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Don't Be a Fool
November 13, 2002
Sheila Samples

My friend Bernie says we the people are fools. He makes a distinction between those who voted Republican last week and those who were too lazy to go to the polls. The former, Bernie says, are either ignorant or harbor a death wish - while the latter are just plain fools.

"But Bernie," I asked, "how can you blame the people for not voting? It's not their fault. The corporate media is an echo chamber for the Republican propaganda - Democrats have to buy time to be heard, for God's sake. Without an honest media, the people don't know what the Bush gang is up to."

"Yeah, right - " Bernie sneered. "Like my old friend Edgar Allen used to say, It's difficult to furnish a person both with matter to be comprehended and brains for its comprehension..."

"But the media - "

"Enough with the media, already!" Bernie almost shouted. "The best thing that could happen to this country is for the media to drop dead - even deader than they already are. The people are fools for refusing to learn from history what the Republicans have up their sleeve. History, my friend," he said, "is a record that stretches out in unbroken truth. History is a vast indictment of this elephantine bunch and now, thanks to fools, is destined to repeat itself."

It's sad, Bernie says, the fools will realize - too late - that the Democratic and Republican parties have changed little, if at all, since the early 1900s. Sure, thanks to technology advances, political dandies can now twist and shout on cable television and lead the people down dangerous paths to cover up their real agendae. Reminds me of something else Bernie's friend, Edgar Allen, also said, Indeed, it is curious to observe how very slight a degree of truth is sufficient to satisfy the mind...

It's there for all to see. Bernie says we are being taken down the same "rosy scenario" path a Republican administration and a Republican Congress who served the selfish interests of the rich and powerful took us 80 years ago - but the fools won't realize it until they are knee-deep in Republican history - that of depression, poverty and despair.

"Fools forget," Bernie said sadly, "they forget the Great Depression did not come about by accident. They forget that while fools were standing in soup lines, the Republican administration was carrying Big Business through the crisis. Banks, insurance companies, corporate donors got bailed out; big business got tax cuts - but there was no relief for we the people."

"You could be right," I said, "but from what I'm hearing on FOX and CNN, there's not a sliver of daylight between the two parties. The Democrats make a big deal out of 'compromising' with this bunch. You say the differences are obvious, but every time I look at them, Democratic leaders are humping the president's leg, and the rest of the party is cringing in the shadows. So it really doesn't matter if people vote or not, does it?"

Bernie looked at me for a long moment, lips tight, eyes blazing. Then, sighing, he said, "Okay, if you want to talk media, let's talk media. How many times has the media compared the spiraling market of today with that of the 1920s? Is the media the least bit curious why there are nearly 9 million people unemployed today, most of whom have lost their retirement benefits because of the greed and corruption of a Republican administration? Has the media interviewed any of those millions - compared them to the 12 million people out of work in 1932 who lost everything - from their dignity and ability to make a living to their social security rights? Has the media - "

"Forget the media," I said hurriedly. "But President Bush is out there every day telling the people that he needs a Republican Congress so he can get things done for the American people. Just look at his Homeland Security Act - guaranteed to put 170,000 people to work. That's good news, isn't it?"

"Yeah, about as good as the Taft-Hartley Act which also busted up the people's unions and put corporate managers in control of collective bargaining," Bernie said. "But this one is much better - it will put even more folks to work, except these will be wearing jackboots and will be searching your friendly neighborhood for the thousands of trained killers that Bush says are plotting to attack us. You know the ones - those who dare to criticize Bush administration policies. You don't have to be a fool," Bernie said, "to realize that Bush needs Homeland Security in a hurry - to control the dissenters who will be marching shoulder-to-shoulder across the Homeland when it dawns on them what he's up to."

Is it possible that Bush is taking us "forward to the past" so rapidly that our knees are hitting our chins for nothing more than endless war, a recession caused by a permanent rich-man's tax cut and replacement of our social system with faith-based charities? Will our veterans, our children, our elderly be forgotten or cast aside for nothing more than the enrichment of the lobbyists who paid for Republican campaigns and are now swarming all over the Capital?

Bernie's right. The Republicans lie to us about war and reasons for war. The Republican media distracts us from impending presidential scandals and economic freefall with round-the-clock sniper coverage and continuous footage of Hollywood shoplifters. As history prepares to repeat itself, we are expected to believe that - by accident - we the people just drifted into the dark, hopeless days of the Republican's Great Depression so long ago and, after a few years of intense suffering and panic, miraculously drifted out again into prosperity with no help from the Democrats and the New Deal.

Neither party can escape its history. It's important to remember Republican history when you are caught up in the patriotic spirit of waving the flag for more tax cuts, trading your freedoms for safety and following our presidential Pied Piper into the quagmire of endless war. Like MY friend, Ralph Waldo, says, We may sometimes follow from generation to generation the course of a truth which at first sustained the spirit of man, tell we see it petrify into a dogma which now kills the spirits of men...

Then and now, the Democratic Party is the party of we the people - a party that stands before the country a living force for peace and freedom. Two years from now, I daresay we the people will be reliving the Republican history of depression, poverty and despair.

In two years, we will have another opportunity to go to the polls and vote. Like Bernie says - tune out the media. Let history guide you. Don't be a fool.

This is based loosely on a campaign speech given by Harry S. Truman in Charleston, WVA, on 1 Oct 1948. I was struck at how little either Party has changed its agenda or principles over the years.

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