The date: January 17, 1961. The speaker: President Dwight David Eisenhower. Political party: Republican! Occasion: IKE's farewell address to the Nation.
Though Eisenhower had distinguished himself as a great military general, leader of the Allied troops during World War II, and was seen as an honest man who voiced advocacy for peace. His run for the Presidency was expected, and he won handily. He brought an end to the Korean conflict. His message was one of conciliation and peace. He was concerned about what he saw evolving in the United States. Up until World War II, the U.S. was never viewed as a military-focused nation. But a huge war machine had been built to fight the War, and the corporations in this nation would never again accept a back seat to anybody. Military and military-related corporations viewed themselves as special, and special meant deserving of special treatment, special taxes, special favors, and a dominant voice in domestic and foreign policies. This new development in the U.S. greatly worried Ike. And as he left office, he specifically warned the American people about this growing power within the U.S. Quoting from his farewell address...
With the passing of Nelson Mandela people the world over will comment in every medium possible about what he meant to the mural of history. Some of it will be informative, some will be self-serving, some will be a lot of hot wind, etc. If one studies history it is relatively easy to see him as one of the brightest lights of the past two centuries. For Americans, I believe his role combines elements of those of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Socrates, and George Washington. He was a giant of a man who represented humility and pragmatism.
It is possible to construct a scenario in which Barack Obama could not have been elected President without the work and representation of Nelson Mandela. Obama himself knows this.
It is time for American voters to grow up. As I converse with and read comments about the political environment in the U.S. today, I am astounded at how little voters know. That is not a comment from some self-appointed expert, it is a comment from a man who knows how desperately we need informed voters if we are to save our democracy.
The political process in the U.S. is now bought and sold. Sure, one can turn to the rare place where money is not buying an office, but in general we are like little puppets or trinkets who are being bought and sold. Yes, both political parties are engaged in it. But the overwhelming amount of money spent directly and indirectly in each election comes from right-wing greed.
As we celebrate the birth of one of the world's great religions, it is time to reflect on the meaning of that foundation.
The words in the Bible that are attributed directly to Jesus seem to have missed the ears and mind of today's so-called Christians. Where are the concerns and empathy for the poor today? Where is the love for the Samaritan or "other"? Where is the love? Where is the peace? Those were the emphases of the message of Jesus. Today they are but a distant and strange story, a cute little story that nobody seems to want to relate it to today's greed and insensitivity and war-mongering.
Yes, it is nice to blow horns, throw confetti, and celebrate the coming of a new year. However, for more and more Americans, this is not a time for celebrating. The future looks less secure, less hopeful, and certainly less just. America has hit the skids, and it is Americans who are causing it.
While history records greed among the early American industrialists like Ford, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, etc., there is absolutely nothing to equal the greed and selfishness of today's wealthy. Equality in the U.S. is quickly vanishing. Fairness in the economy is gone. The American Dream is evolving as a nightmare. The hope that existed in most American homes of the 20th century has been buried by an avalanche of "me first," selfish, greed-laden conservatives. It is never enough for today's wealthy. Having more material wealth than one could ever spend is not enough. More, more, more!