People's State of the Union Address
Good evening, fellow citizens.
Each January, the President of the United States has the
Constitutional obligation to come before the Congress and
make an assessment of the condition of the country, to delineate
its problems and to describe how the Executive plans to solve
those problems, to list the successes of the prior year and
the reasons for those successes. Most importantly, though,
the implicit demand by the Constitution of the President is
for an accounting of the health of our government and whether
or not it has met the goals set by the Constitution on behalf
of the people represented by the government.
Since this accounting by the President has become, with the
introduction of radio and television, decreasingly factual
and progressively more a staged political event, rather than
an honest appraisal, the people feel compelled to reply. We
have had some time to assess the President's words this past
It is with great sadness that the people must report that
our government has failed us, utterly, in this past year and
in many others in the last few decades. This past year has
been one of, particularly, tumult and divisiveness and great
physical and Constitutional danger.
Moreover, the people must report that we have come to these
dangerous shoals by the hands of our own elected officials,
who have not navigated our ship well, nor with the safety
of its passengers, we the people, in mind.
Despite glowing reports, the status of the economy is not
good. For the people, what truly counts is steady employment
at a reasonable rate of compensation. More than three million
of us have seen our jobs disappear permanently, and millions
more have been unable to find new work or have given up actively
looking for work. Many more us of have been able to find only
part-time work or are chronically under-employed. We are besieged
by continuing attempts in legislation and by Executive Order
to roll back rights to organize and to be adequately compensated
for overtime. The federal minimum wage remains unchanged,
even though its purchasing power is only about two-thirds
of its value at time of the enactment of the current rate.
Poverty continues to a significant problem, and is growing
as unemployment grows. Our leaders even look positively on
paying welfare-to-work clients less than minimum wage, and
fight bitterly in welfare legislation against the twin cures
for poverty - education and opportunity. The number of people
without health care coverage has increased. College students
in need of loans for education have discovered that the administration
is making loans more difficult to obtain at a time when tuition
rates are going up precipitously.
Trade agreements continue to threaten the sovereignty of
states and local communities, and jobs continue to be our
leading export. Increasingly, the only beneficiaries of so-called
"free" trade agreements are multinational corporations
and their stockholders. Calls for fair trade agreements fall
on deaf ears.
We see mounting deficits, and, this year, yet another concession
to the wealthy among us in the form of further tax cuts demanded
by the Bush administration, which have greatly contributed
to those deficits, at the same time that the President lectures
Congress that it must show some fiscal responsibility.
Our Constitutional rights continue to be threatened, from
hastily-enacted and ill-advised laws such as the Patriot Act,
and by currently-considered legislation meant to strengthen
that act. We continue to discover new means of the suppression
of dissent by limitations on our ability to travel freely
such as watch lists and by means such as the expanding use
of so-called "First Amendment Zones" which are employed
to prevent our dissent from ever reaching the eyes and ears
of our leaders.
We continue to see, increasingly, the corporate control of
government, in ways which in times past would be have been
seen as outright graft and corruption - open-ended contracts
to corporations such as to that previously led by the current
Vice-President, obvious instances of buying legislation via
corporate donations to campaigns and by progressive favoritism
of the multinational corporation in tax law, government and,
indeed, in foreign policy.
Even watered-down campaign reform has been under attack by
those vested interests which believe money is free speech.
We have watched the administration ignore millions of our
individual requests for restrictions on the media's ability
to consolidate control of power, and watched a few people
in Congress thwart legislative attempts to undo bad rule-making
by the FCC.
We have seen a progressive and sustained attack on our environment
through the implementation of rules favoring polluters, and
through policy changes designed to increase the profitability
of corporations. We have seen rule changes to exempt certain
industries from filing environmental impact assessments and
have watched, horrified, as our government ignores our wishes
with regard to wilderness areas and their protection.
We have seen xenophobia, jingoism and McCarthyism become
part of the national landscape once again.
Increasingly, we see this administration and its friends
in Congress operate by means of intimidation and the President
exert his will by executive fiat.
One small segment of one party has chosen to use the government
of all the people for its own corporate and geo-political
ends. That group of ideologues has hijacked this government
in no less demonstrable a way than nineteen terrorists hijacked
four airliners on the morning of September 11, 2001, and has
implemented a program of fear and intimidation to control
not only the public, but its political opponents, as well.
We, the people, have listened to this group's representatives
shout down opposing views as "treason" for so long
now that we have become inured to it.
Treason is a serious charge, and should be levied only against
those who act, whether for political or personal gain, in
ways which indelibly harm this country. We have seen this
administration do just that, time and again, by lying about
the reasons for war, to leaking the identity of covert agents
of the government for purposes of political revenge, to the
adoption of policies, often by fiat, which have seriously
impaired our country's image with the rest of the world.
We have even seen fit to publicly and diplomatically interfere
in the domestic affairs of our nearest neighbors. While Canada
supplies peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan, after a war of
revenge and political strategy started by the United States,
the Bush administration derides the Canadian government for
its judicial rulings on marriage and drugs and complains that
it does not spend enough on defense.
The diplomatic battles with France, Germany and Russia are
well-known, and stem from the persistent belief of that small
group of ideologues in the value of force, rather than true
The leaders of several countries, including Great Britain
and Australia, are now facing public and political disgrace
for repeating the lies of the Bush administration. Never before
has raw greed so easily managed to brush aside diplomatic
In order to gain a veneer of legitimacy for the imperial
ambitions of the few, our government has resorted to outright
threats of retribution and to bribery to engage the tacit
support of some of the poorest countries on earth, simply
to make the word "coalition" seem plausible.
We have, collectively, wrecked two countries in less than
two years. Warlords control all of the countryside in Afghanistan
outside of Kabul, opium production there is back to pre-war
levels. Women and children are no safer outside their homes
than before Americans arrived, but a deal for a pipeline has
In Iraq, we are in the midst of a war of attrition, trying
to make the country not a democracy, but rather a corporate
playground in which to experiment with privatizing an entire
government, with our soldiers placed in the uncomfortable
and dangerous position of providing security for corporations,
rather than for Iraqi citizens. We have become occupiers,
and will remain in Iraq as occupiers until the Bush administration
is voted out of office or the Iraqis push us out. Our government,
which devised and supervised the magnanimous and highly effective
Marshall Plan after World War II, has now become in the eyes
of the world little more than the military arm of multinational
We have seen, in less than three years, our country reduced
to the status of schoolyard bully in the eyes of the world,
our economy damaged, our environment threatened anew. We have
seen adopted by this administration an unparalleled passion
for secrecy, a secrecy which extends even to official independent
investigations into the worst act of terror in the country's
history. Only a few days ago, the Commission on Terrorism
was forced to depend upon subpoena to extract documents from
the Bush administration about events as they occurred on that
day. Indeed, this administration quietly fought to prevent
the establishment of that independent commission, just as
it fought for new legislation to carry out the detention and
prosecution of its enemies in secret, far from the eyes of
the courts or the press.
This unnatural passion for secrecy has been spreading throughout
our government. The President's Attorney General advises all
departments that the Department of Justice is there to help
agencies resist Freedom of Information Act requests made by
the public. Papers necessary to political scholars are not
available because Mr. Bush has signed executive orders preventing
their release. Americans sense, even if they do not express
it, that this secrecy is distancing their own government from
them, making it less responsive and more autocratic.
This secrecy even extends to important domestic issues, such
as energy planning. At a time when other countries see the
Kyoto agreements on global warming as both sustaining the
human race and offering the potential of new jobs and markets
in renewable and alternative energy sources, our own government
not only hides its energy planning from its citizens, it has
ignored the Kyoto protocols and has launched an ambitious
plan to subsidize with tax dollars industries which harm the
environment and which will increase our dependence on questionable
technology and upon fossil fuels.
What most Americans long for, once again, is not war, and
not revenge, but a return to normalcy, in their daily lives,
in their jobs, in the way their government is conducted, domestically
and internationally, in the political discourse of their leaders.
Instead, this administration has created a system to keep
American citizens in a state of fear. Mr. Bush himself, in
his public speeches, asserts a dangerous world in which we
are under continual threat, and his agencies have devised
color-coded alerts to remind us, daily, that we are besieged.
The administration has implied that only it can save us from
terror, and yet, promises no end to that terror. Mr. Ashcroft
assures us that anyone disputing the administration's wisdom
in this regard gives aid and comfort to the enemy.
The people, however, are weary of such political parlor tricks.
We know the great harm done to us by terror attacks. We know
that our government must be systematic in its opposition to
terror. We also know that this administration has used terror
to its own political advantage.
More than at any time in this nation's history, we are on
the cusp of radical change. Computer technology has given
the government and corporations the means to track us as individuals
as never before. Indeed, computer technology and current law
may conspire to hide from us or even erase the physical evidence
of what makes us a democracy, our votes.
By our current government and the press, we are encouraged
to isolate ourselves from opinion outside our country, to
ignore the growing isolation of the United States in global
affairs. We are expected to find our militant posturing reassuring.
It is implied by the Bush administration that there is something
holy in the wars we fight. Our legislators continue to put
more of our national resources into war and the preparation
for war and to reduce taxation on the wealthy, both corporate
and individual, and this will eventually starve not only us,
but our government, as well. Indeed, this is the intention
of the current administration.
Unlike the current administration, captured as it is by a
small group of neo-conservative ideologues, we, the people,
perceive at this cusp in history two paths of action. The
first is to continue to pursue a course of fear and privation
and war which has the potential to cause a descent into global
distress. Indeed, the United States is, corporately and militarily,
powerful enough now to exact that horrible price on the world
and its citizens, and on us.
Another course of action is equally possible, if we, the
people, exert our collective will. The immense power of this
country could be used to arbitrate international disputes,
to provide the intellectual and financial resources to address
the true roots of terrorism - inequality, poverty, disease,
feudalism and ignorance, to cooperate internationally in those
matters of mutual and global concern, to return the United
States to the community of nations, and to return our own
internal political debate to reasoned discussion.
It is the current state of the Union that we, the people,
are not afforded by our President and our leaders any meaningful
choice in the direction we shall take, except the one we shall
make on November 2, 2004. It is the fervent wish of the people
that the country and its government survive, intact, until
punpirate is a New Mexico writer who, like the people,
knows we as a nation can be better than what we have lately