It is often the case that those who claim to be protecting our nation are the very most dangerous threats to the people and the principles upon which this nation was founded. Among the greatest of those threats are fundamentalism and globalism.
There is no political will to confront either so what we hear about are false issues and what we get instead of leadership is posturing and platitudes.
With little public discussion or awareness, Democratic leadership has announced an agreement about upcoming trade negotiations without bothering to let any of us in on the contents of that agreement. What is really going on is that the Democrats are positioning themselves to get an infusion of cash for the elections of 2008 from big business just as the Republicans have done during their return to power in the past 15 years.
Under â€˜fast trackâ€ rules, trade deals cannot be subjected to real discussions, modifications or amendment once they reach Congress but can only be voted upon â€œup or down.â€ What this means is that there is no real democracy with regard to one of the most important issues of our time â€“ the globalization of our economy. Then again, given the servitude in which most members of Congress are held by Wal-Mart and other huge corporate interests, real debate is unlikely even if fast tracking was repealed.
Ever since the Democratic Party was seized by Bill Clinton and the â€œNewâ€ Democrats, the party that at one time put forth the interests of working class citizens there is no opposition to big money and corporate interests. With the recent trade â€œagreementâ€ Rep. Rangel has positioned his party as a real alternative to the GOP for off shore, anti-worker corporations to get the big bucks the coming election will require.
The most direct and likely beneficiary of this will be Hillary Clinton, who while a member of Wal-Martâ€™s Board of Directors failed to utter a word against that companyâ€™s anti-union efforts. The senator will be, like her husband, a front for big business and the methodical transfer of jobs to the third world.
It must be remembered that the people who pay for free trade are American workers, all for the benefit of corporate shareholders and executives, many of whom are not even American. We have been sold a bill of goods about â€œfreeâ€ trade and tariffs. How has that worked out? Real wages have been declining since the Clinton trade agreements were approved. While the stock market soars, workers are earning less than ever and basic costs soar.
It is time to reassess our trade policies and make certain that workers are protected. If that means lower share values and smaller executive compensation packages so be it.
Now on to the other great threat to American values, fundamentalism. One such threat is small in this country at this time even though it is looming larger all the time in Europe. That is the fundamentalist movement of Islam. In Europe, a tradition for inclusion and letting each person live their life free of interference is being turned on its head by the immigration of Islamic ideologues who insist on Sharia law as the only â€œtrueâ€ religion. This ideology is intolerant of any variations and seeks to destroy the very tolerance that gave them a place to live and practice their faith.
We have our own native version in the form of fundamentalist Christianity. Less violent for the most part, it shares an intolerance for other lifestyles and practices with its Islamic brothers. Both are paternalistic, homophobic and misogynist. The Christian version has done its best to seize control of the Republican Party in recent years, although there are signs the effort may have seen its peak.
Despite the effort of fundamentalists to claim otherwise, one of the key elements of our traditions is the separation of religion and government. Fundamentalists do not honor this principle and instead insist that everyone adhere to their strict rules and precepts. This is un-American in every sense of the word.
Where are the politicians speaking out about these issues? Few dare raise their voice and those who do fail the test of consistency. When are Muslim leaders going to teach their fundamentalist co-religionists that Sharia law is un-American? When is the republican party going to tell the same thing to those who would deny all Americans basic freedoms, and that that the party of Lincoln will not be seized by those who sell hate as a religious value?
It is time we stop putting up with the rape of America in the name of corporate profits and the rape of the Constitution in the name of religion.