If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is…Peggy Lee
Words out there’s another election ‘bout to take place, and rumor has it this time it’s really, really important. Who is going to win this election, or what difference it will make is as insignificant as our choices seconded only to the obsolete ritual act of choosing.
Our nation’s original band of brothers were rascals, rogues, and renaissance men who drafted our nation’s position papers not in disregard of history, but because of it. From the declaration of its birth, 278-years ago, the concept of “We the people”, a “Representative Government” with “checks and balances” a “Constitutional Republic” and our original Patriot Act, known as “The Bill of Rights” was the foundation and promise of this new nation.
Over the course of our nation’s existence, “The Promise” has been orphaned, abandoned, treated like a stepchild, or at best, a bastard offspring. What is indubitably more significant to ponder than the outcome of November’s contest is, on what day, hour, and year; by who’s slight of hand was it that rendered elections impracticable, fanciful, and obsolete?
At 3:50 am, July 26, 1947, on the presidential plane, the “Sacred Cow”, neither ballot nor bullet would have its day. With the mere stroke of just six pens, the “American Promise” became just another historical footnote; it was no more, it cease to be; it faced its death and died. No, it wasn’t pining ladies and gentlemen, it was pronounced dead.
“The Promise” to Americans became an antiquated notion just two-years after the battles were won against fascist Germany, Italy, and Imperial Japan. The war was meant to free the people of the world from despotism. A world war was won because of the sacrifices of the greatest generation, a generation that was already familiar with sacrifice having lived through the great depression. A generation whose grandparents had also suffered the ravages of an economic calamity and whose children had also sacrificed themselves in World War 1.
These three generations believed in “The Promise” of America - yet each generation was quite familiar with corporate and government corruption and cronyism, was quite familiar with the collusion between the government, industry, and the military – was quite familiar with the exploitation of labor, discarded laborers, and the unremitting repression of worker’s rights and human rights. They all shared an understanding that the working man was little more than an expendable asset.
They understood and were quite familiar with the idea that profit trumps public interest, understood the social cost of unregulated capitalism. Each of these three generations fought for the right’s of workers, for civil liberty, for fairness, equality, education, and opportunity. Yet, for each generation the chasm grew wider between labor and capitalism. It was a mirror of disaster.
Still they all struggled on, striving to reinvigorate the labor movement with their simple banner of “Work and Bread”. They held a revolt of the unemployed with impassioned thoughts of insurrection and they contemplated revolution - then came the wars.
In spite of this nation’s track record, FDR rang out the call to arms. Our parents, their brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, and every citizen made the sacrifice. They faced their destiny, frightened, brave, and courageously in their finest hour of their youth as they fought for the survival of what they believed to be the framer’s legacy, ideal, and “the promise”.
The greatest generation believed they could defeat fascism and Imperial Japan; they were willing to bet their lives that Hitler, Tojo, and Mussolini would not rule the world. Not only did they answer the call for conscription, but agreed to pay the tab for industry to retool from producing product to becoming a war machine and then again paid to retool them back to producing product. This generation witnessed the worst of human nature; they faced the moral ambiguities of war, the carnage, atrocities, the loss of human of life, the majesty of its execution, the waste and devastation, and the soulless end of humanities vilest war. The lesson for those who survived was that barbarism begets barbarism.
Despite their journey through a whirlwind of hell, madness, insanity, stupidity, and a failure of diplomacy, they came home to start again to raise a family, rebuild a nation, and take hold of their share of their nation’s promise. America and its citizens survived World War II unscathed, but for the ultimate sacrifice that we reverently honor the loss of life and limb. America took center stage amidst the rubble, and as the smoke cleared to the victor goes the spoils.
Whether it was fate or fortune that delivered the United States of America this magnificent historical opportunity is irrelevant. It was obligated to restore world peace and prosperity. The means in which it fulfilled this obligation would be its defining moment that future generations would judge. Setting aside its ideals and rhetoric, the world would judge based on its actions – for actions speak louder than words.
As the world watched, we set forth The Marshall Plan, began to rebuild Japan, created the United Nations as an arbiter for peace, and the GI Bill for veterans. But, with the untimely death of FDR, so went with him the promise to the world of his universal “Four Freedoms”. In its stead came the Truman Doctrine. This unknown congressman from Missouri came into national prominence when he shed light on war profiteers. Then, when ascending to the presidency made his motto, “The Buck Stops Here”. Harry S. Truman not heeding the warnings of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln betrayed his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution from enemies without and from within.
Our legislators in Washington shared in his betrayal and in collusion, when they enacted legislation thereby committing an act of treason against the American citizens in their creation of a National Security Council (NSC). It was evident by their actions that those elected to represent us no longer believed in “The Promise”. They no longer believed in the sovereignty of the people.
What was set forth on that early morning of July 26, 1947, and signed into law in congress on Sunday, July 27th, squandered our ideal of a Constitutional Republic and replaced it with an inherent fatalism. If we wish to know and understand the reasons for terrorism, we must search the consciousness, choices, and actions of our own nation; it is simply a matter of cause and effect.
What was set into motion 57-years ago with the creation of the NSC was a shadow government, an obscure apparition, which in our day passes itself off as the United States of America. On that day through a legislative act, congress legitimized the notion that the business of America was the government’s business. The NSC was the genesis to the doctrine of preemption, overt and covert interventions, unprovoked invasions, destabilization and the overthrowing of sovereign nations, the tyranny of the absolute rule of capital, and an economy run by a market driven militarism, which had its battle slogan of “Stay the Course” and justified itself under the guise of America’s vital interests.
The military-industrial-university-intelligence complex usurped what was once bequeathed to the world as our noble intentions. In place of the will of the American people was a mutated creation personifying a loathsome cowboy/ Dorian Grey caricature.
The idea of an informed electorate or that of informed consent was replaced by a market-driven consumerism. “The Promise”, this nation’s domestic social contract has been brought to its knees by an unregulated corporate fundamentalism and our civil liberties have become null and void. In its place is a nationwide police state apparatus just a heartbeat away from Posse Comitatus.
To the surviving members of the greatest generation, in my best New Yorkese, I say to you, “Yous guys was robbed”. Your children, their children, and their children’s children have inherited a world of war and violence, a world of fear, a world in which truth has expired. They all share a reality, which you fought to eliminate: the possibility of total annihilation. The idea of a democracy, the ideals of a Constitutional Republic remain unkept promises, remnants of myth and universal truths, and in its place those who govern try to fill the void with commercials created by Madison Avenue admen.
In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” So, do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around, ‘cause that’s what it’s all about.
Philip J. Rappa is President of Together Forever Changing, Inc.; a national non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, stimulate, and invigorate the citizenry to the dangers inherent in the US Patriot Acts. He is also an award-winning writer, filmmaker, documentarian, lecturer, and humanitarian.
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing