Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents' Day Salute:The Need To Channel Backbone And Spirit

(J.P.Morgan attacking photographers)

Of course, at the outset, I must admit that I hold no degree in history. I am by no means an expert on the subject. So, the following may be considered pure conjecture on my part. But, if there was ever a time in US history where integrity, truthfulness, forthright courage, and just plain intestinal fortitude were qualities so desperately needed to combat overwhelming forces of corporate-political graft, the overall perversion of our representative-social-democratic system wrought by massive, almost common-place, money-fueled influence peddling—while all of this being dangerously mixed with public ignorance and misguided anger fed by a corporate-controlled broadcast media—then I’m hard-pressed to come up with a comparison to what has transpired in the past 35 years. More specifically, coming up with a proper comparison to what has happened in the first decade, and continues seemingly unabated into the second decade of this new century, is a difficult task to perform in my little head.

Oh, one may tend to sight similarities to the days of the robber barons, while pointing out the oligarchic political shenanigans leading up to the Crash of ‘29’ and the first Republican Depression—and that would be a fair comparison. Integrity and courage were needed then, as well. Corruption and oligarchy were battled (or at least attempted to be curbed) legislatively with everything from measures like the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, an official Act which is still on the books, but goes unused and lies dormant like a traffic cop on valium, to the successful implementations of the New Deal. But, in this continuing post-New Deal era—arguably more so since the Reagan administration—where the corporate power elite, along with their right-wing hand maidens/enablers in Washington, have been busily dismantling every remedy applied during the past century, the situation seems bleaker. When you consider the disastrous ruling set forth last month in the case ‘Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission,’ made by a Supreme Court more stacked to the right than can be remembered in recent history, ‘dark’ is not a strong enough word to use when describing what democracy might look like in ten years.

It is with all of this in mind I present a few examples of courageous and outspoken presidential moments. Words pronounced in defiance and earnest, speaking truth to power…resolute and strong in times of deep trouble.

Yes. Some channeling of courage, spirit and intestinal fortitude is most desperately needed right now!



Democratic National Convention (June 27, 1936) - click to hear entire speech

"These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike."

"For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent."

"For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

"We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

"They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

"Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

"I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master."

~FDR 1936~

JFK - In His Words (September 14, 1960)

"What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label, “Liberal”? If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But, if by a “Liberal,” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties - someone who believes that we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I'm proud to say that I'm a “Liberal.”

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting these speeches... They are revelations within themselves. They speak to the same situations and attitudes we face today, with very little (if any) verbiage changes at all!