January 31, 2006 by lonbud
The State of the Union
The State of the Union — if, by Union we mean that confederation of interests and outlooks joined together more than two centuries ago to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — is not nearly as good as the President assured the assembled members of Congress and an increasingly disapproving public tonight.
Of course, many and powerful are those within the union who wield — and receive — the benefits of justice, who enjoy lavish domestic tranquilities, feel well-defended by the greatest military force ever assembled, are skeptical that the general welfare couldn’t stand a good deal more austerity than it suffers today, and who seem pleased as punch with their lives — and with their government — in what everyone is constantly reminded is a fearful and dangerous time.
Others aren’t so sure, but remain too hopelessly addicted to drugs, to tv, to shopping, sex, celebrity, or to themselves to have an effect.
Such a view, however, ignores deep divisions now rending the fabric of a society rapidly divesting itself of hard won freedoms, and of its fundamental openness and optimism, in favor of one rooted in secrecy, in security, and in the concentration of power among the few as opposed to the many.
The State of the Union has the Republican party, specifically, and the progeny of our essentially Calvinist forbears generally running roughshod over the Democratic party and what remains of a once slow-moving, but largely progressive, liberal-minded establishment that served for nearly a century as caretaker of the American Dream.
Gone is the sense in America that an injustice to one of us is an affront to the autonomy of us all. Today we submit to routine invasions of privacy, and to institutional abuses of rights once held to be self evident, under a delusional faith that only the duly suspicious and inherently dangerous among us will be affected.
Gone is the idea that people make an enterprise great and worthwhile, or that their labor and dedication deserve appreciation. Today the interests of bankrupt corporations, and of their directors and executives, supercede those of not only the labor force, but of even society itself.
The State of the Union sees the Executive laying claim to a wide swath of the government’s Legislative function and quite successfully co-opting the Judicial branch in the process. It sees a news media barely able to wrest itself from the lures of voyeurism and the enchantments of celebrity for more than the briefest stretches of time.
The President stood before the nation tonight, as he has for each of the four previous State of the Union addresses he has given, and lied. He lied about the progress we are making in Iraq and about his commitment to support the troops he has consigned to fight there.
He lied about the health of the domestic economy and about his commitment to end the nation’s addiction to oil.
He lied about investing in education and about his commitment to being a “good steward” of taxpayers’ money.
The State of the Union is such that one of the most unpopular Presidents of all time can get a standing ovation standing at the podium on the floor of the House of Representatives, pretending all is well, smirking, and joking, and bluffing his way through a speech that completely ignores the harsh realities of the precarious moment in history at which the country finds itself.
The State of the Union is such that an invited guest wearing clothing deemed “inappropriate” for the occasion can be arrested and whisked from the room in handcuffs in order to preserve the managed sense of propriety and decorum under which the government deigns to show its public face.
Ours may be the greatest nation in the annals of human history. We may have achieved the highest standard of living for the greatest number of people ever in the course of time. All of that, however, is due to past performance and not a result of current practice.