Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Halftime in America

by Doug Thompson

Clint Eastwood popped up in a Super Bowl ad at halftime Sunday night -- not dispatching bad guys as Dirty Harry or snuffing outlaws in a spaghetti western.

Nope, Clint was shilling for Chrysler Corp., talking about jobs, manufacturing and quality -- traits some say are lost in this nation.

But the ad also spotlighted some other things that are lost in today's America: Hope, resiliency, belief in ourselves and an ability to bounce back from adversity.

Said Clint:
"This country can't be knocked out with one punch, we get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah. It's halftime America, and our second half is about to begin."
That message struck a chord here at Capitol Hill Blue.

Perhaps it is fitting that in today's world, a message of hope comes from a multi-million dollar television ad from a company that had to be bailed out by the government and uses an entertainment icon as its spokesman.

In a presidential campaign year, shouldn't a message of hope come from at least one of the candidates for the highest office in the land? Shouldn't at least one of the four contenders for the Republican Presidential nomination offer up a believable message of hope or -- lacking that -- can't we at least get some hope from the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Apparently not. Each of the candidates -- Republican and Democrat -- offer scripted platitudes or come across as harbingers of doom.  Hope, like truth, is a lost commodity in politics.

All of the candidates talk about jobs but has one of them come forward with a message that offers any real hope of restoring jobs to the millions of unemployed -- and disenfranchised -- Americans?  Do any of them offer a real plan?

Mitt Romney talks about how he put people back to work in Massachusetts but doesn't really say how he will do it nationwide. Newt Gingrich points the blame at black people, suggesting too many are too lazy to work. Ron Paul is too busy talking doom and gloom and promising to abolish the Federal Reserve and the IRS to offer any real message of hope. Rick Santorum? You can knock on the door to his head but there's nobody home.

Barack Obama issues outrageous claims about jobs he never created or an economy that he lacks the ability to restore.  Talk comes easy to Obama. Leadership -- and the action it generates -- are far more illusive.

So, given these pitiful pretenders to the throne, can we really have hope in our future?

Yes, we believe we can. These comic book candidates can't save America.

Only we can.

But we can't do it by joining fake grassroots movements funded by billionaires. We can't do it by dressing up as Uncle Sam and waving hate-filled signs at rallies staged for TV cameras. We can't do it by sitting in front of a computer and bombarding web sites with threats, canned rhetoric or tired, old political bromides.

We can't do it by hating ourselves or America. We can't do it by hating others.

We're better than that. We're stronger because we have a nation worth supporting, an ideal worthy of belief and a system of government that -- despite its flaws -- is still second to none in the world.

We need to get off our asses and start demanding accountability and change from those who make the decisions that affect our lives. Those decision makers exist not only in the halls of Congress or at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. They serve on city councils, school boards, board of supervisors and in state legislatures.

When's the last time you attended a city council meeting?  When's the last time you rose to speak about an issue that affects your neighbors? When's the last time you worked to elect a local officials who represents your interests more than the man or woman currently holding the office?

How many envelopes have you stuffed this year? How many phone calls have you made on behalf of someone you believe in? How many precincts have you walked?

True grassroots efforts begin in your living room or at small gatherings at your neighbor's home. They don't spring from scripted national efforts or come from false prophets who misrepresent the Constitution or use populism to pad their bank accounts.

America is not Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or Ron Paul.

America is you, and me, and all the rest of us out there who hold the power to actually make the changes that politicians can only promise.

How do we do it?

One step at a time. We start at the local level and work our way upward.

Charity, someone once said, begins at home.

So does change.

So does hope.

So does an America worth saving.

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