Something is troubling me mightily. It must be, because I dreamt about it last night. In my dream, I was invited to speak before a joint session of Congress on the current status of our country. Now, this must have been a dream of the absurd, because certainly, no one would ever invite me to speak at that particular podium; and even if they did, what would I say? More importantly, who would really want to listen? But, speak I did.
Although I do not remember the full text of my speech, it carried this timbre:
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
I normally would address you as “esteemed,” or “honorable,” but as a body, I don’t really think of you in that light anymore. I am sorry to lump all of you into a faceless group irrespective of the truth of your individual characters, but perhaps for a change, you will understand how we feel now when you do this to us. It is clear that, to you, we are not people; we are “constituents,” “statistics,” or “resources.” You assume our gullibility and ignorance. That is a mistake on your part.
I stand before you today to inform you about my perception of your work and our path as a nation. Both are failing, and they are failing at your hands. When I see your choices and listen to your words, I do not recognize statesmen and stateswomen for the most part; I see arrogant, ideological zealots who are more interested in firming your place in history than serving the people who elected you. You allow the wealthiest in our country, of which many of you can be counted, to decide what is best for the majority of us, who are poor and working-poor. You permit corporate interests to surmount the needs of our children, the disabled, and veterans. You propagate other countries’ dependence upon us on the backs of citizens of the United States who ourselves are rapidly becoming residents of a second-world country. The most challenging part of all of this is that you have heard my words so often that you have had to close your ears and hearts to them just to protect your sense of self. If you actually internalized these sentiments and thoughts, you would despair.
Yet, I must backtrack for a moment. This is not wholly your responsibility. It is ours. We elected you, and reelected you, then elected you-substitutes when your term-limits arrived. The truth is that you, too, have become interchangeable faces with your predecessors. You could disappear today, someone would take your place, and we would barely blink; yet, you believe the hyperbole about your importance so elegantly crafted during your elections.
Your money does not make you more valuable than my friend, Carrie, who teaches art at a charter school. Your prominence does not make you more important than my friend, Amy, who works at a university. Your education does not make you more vital than my sister, Lorraine, who is a stay-at-home mom. You are important to your family and friends. We have created whatever external sense of importance you have. Remember that we as the electorate have done this; therefore, we have the power to dismantle that public value as well.
As we watch groups like AmericansElect, the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Independents, and other groups grow, know that business-as-usual is coming to a close in our government. The standard operation of the Federal Reserve is on its way out. Anyone who uses demagoguery as a platform is at grave risk for disengagement from their political power base, especially as the broader population learns that although those who speak the loudest get the most attention, the majority actually have the power.
Our founding fathers foretold our current situation time and again. We simply refused to believe them. As an example, recall what Thomas Jefferson observed when he wrote to John Tyler in 1816:
“And I sincerely believe with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a grand scale.”
George Washington understood the humanity of the citizens he served. He offered clear guidance that would well serve our elected officials when he said in a letter to the Marquis de Lafayette in 1785,
“Democratical States must always feel before they can see; it is this that makes their Governments slow, but the people will be right at last.”
I take this to mean that with prudent and open hearts, individuals of conscience will find a resolution to all of America’s woes, and that the people, not just the wealthy, will win the day.
Ladies and gentlemen of Congress, your arrogance and insensitivity is not prudence. You refusal to compromise is not an expression of a feeling heart. Our fear to replace you with someone completely different from those who have served in your office in the past is cowardice on our part. We are all to blame.
Today, my fellow citizens, which is, after all, who you are, I claim my culpability and declare to you that I now reclaim my power as a citizen of these United States of America. You no longer have the power to sway my vote without my conscientious consideration. You no longer have the right to make deals in secret without my consent. You will acknowledge the decimation of those peoples who stood in our way to statehood, for it is only in recognizing the injury we caused that we can even begin to ask for forgiveness. You may no longer abscond with funds from my elderly parents and students to pay foreign governments’ bills. You may no longer pepper-spray my sons and daughters who sit on a cement sidewalk at a university without cause. You may no longer send my children to wars around the world without the purpose of defending the lives of our citizens, not our oil or political status. You may no longer borrow against the futures of my grandchildren. You may no longer give money to megacorporations and banks that rightly belong to our fellow countrymen and -women without my considered approval. No longer shall you deny rights to even one member of our population; rights that you have no jurisdiction to govern in the first place. No longer may you allow anyone to be turned away from health care because they cannot afford it. You will ensure that an affordable education for all our young people is available. No longer may you collect your salary while damaging our brother- and sister-Americans; and even then, you may only collect that salary until the end of your term. Today, and not a day later, you will acknowledge the innate freedoms and equality that we Americans were promised at the time of the founding of our country. Remember, you answer to me and to all of us who put you in office. I suspect my voice is simply a reflection of millions of voices across the country.
From this day forward, we decide how our country runs. You will do our bidding, and not the bidding of corporations or small, monied enclaves of power who insist on stoking the conflagration that has become our American lives. You are put on notice that effective today, you are accountable down to the penny for our money, because, after all, it is our money. The walls of Congress will no longer be an expression of your xenophobia. Not only will those walls be transparent, but metaphorically razed so that we have complete access to everything you know about us and our country.
Your personal lives are yours alone. If you are faithful or unfaithful to your spouse, that is between you and your mate. Whether you are gay or straight, Christian or Buddhist, fat or thin, from the South or the West, these issues are of no concern. Again, your private lives are yours alone. The same is true for us. Anything to do with our personal lives neither requires nor will tolerate governance. You will stay out of our bedrooms, our churches, and our doctor’s offices. As such, we will also not consider those issues when it comes time for your election. There is room for all of us in our country, not only to be tolerated, but to be celebrated.
I hope you have enjoyed your tenure under the old administration; however, this is a new day. Everyone from our local dog catcher to our President of the United States is now on notice: The People rule America. Anyone who works with a different understanding than that will be removed from office immediately. If you didn’t like Occupy Wall Street, you will certainly loathe Occupy America! Only those who understand compromise and collegiality shall inhabit these hallowed halls from now on.
We will return to “E pluribus unum,” or “Out of many, one,” as our national motto. “In God we Trust,” is exclusive of those who do not believe in a monotheistic god, and is inconsistent with the separation of church and state. Remember, not one person shall be excluded from our system. With this mutual understanding in place, let us now begin a new day in camaraderie, equal citizenship, and a vision toward tomorrow as a unified country. Nothing less will be tolerated.
Thank you for your time and attention.