Cast in the Gary Cooper role in this western drama is the American citizen, all of whom just wish to live the simple life. Unfortunately and unforgivingly, that myth is a bust. Yet, we are all living in a time when frontier- justice rules the day.          

    With the first vote cast in the Iowa Caucus, the horserace for the presidency begins in earnest. Honestly, even the most pragmatic citizen realizes that whatever the outcome on Election Day, it will be the result of nothing more than a “Hobson’s” choice, in that we are offered a choice of taking what is offered or nothing at all.          

    Folks, we are not witnessing the re-affirmation of “The Miracle at Philadelphia”. It’s more like being a voyeur to a surreal survival reality American Idol show. I’ve preemptively taken precautions and purchased, and am now donning knee-high boots.          

    Let me give you fair warning my fellow Americans, for this will be the most vile and contentious election to take place in our Constitutional Republic: A no holds-barred-kiss-your-sister-all out brawl.     

         A time for choosing with an untenable deficit and a never-ending war against the illusive terrorists; a time for choosing with the marriage of massive tax cuts and a free pass for corporations to move their headquarters off shore; a time for choosing, when the stakes are higher than ever before.          

    Depending on who can purchase the presidency, we are one or two election cycles away from witnessing the re-establishment of the gold standard. As the dollar plunges, it will be left to the new financial world to decide what currency will become the new standard barer. Depending on who is Coronated the next CEO of American Inc., we are one or two election cycles away from a social upheaval that will tear asunder the fabric that makes us a Constitutional Republic.          

    It will be a social upheaval so appalling and in many ways comparable to the one that forced Teddy Roosevelt to reign in the corporate behemoths, which resulted in the regulation of their businesses. It was then that we began down the long road of making the workplace equitable for the worker, as well as the corporation. It was also the beginning towards the long road of racial and economic justice.          

    We are one or two election cycles away from witnessing the citizens of this nation being deceptively divided. Divided by a chasm so great it will make the 60’s pale in comparison. Citizens will be divided by their positions on the war or wars that our president will tell us, “There is no other option but to stay the course”.          

    Those of you who are students of history are well aware that humanity’s three worst scourges are religious fanaticism, nationalism, and imperialism. Those of you also aware of historical precedent understand societies in the twentieth century consisted of four distinct entities, military, religious, wealth/corporate, and political.     

         The evidence obtained from history demonstrates that every time there is a combination of any two of these entities the end result is tyranny. As it stands now, the lines of separation seem drawn with invisible ink.          

    We are living in the shadow of a new, improved Corporate Evangelism. Its mindset is willful, stubborn, and arrogant; its decisions are unilateral, and when it takes action, it is in a prideful and strutting manner. Its mantra is, “The drive for profit has no national loyalties”.          

    The fourth estate, the media, inclusive of radio, and all the conglomerate owned one-paper towns across America are duplicitous in selling us its latest snake oil. They accomplish this by repetitively informing us and re-enforcing their special brand of propaganda disguised as entertainment, resulting in the corporatization and militarization of our consciousness.          

    Whether you call it NAFTA, The Free Trade Agreement, Globalization, or out-sourcing, the end result is the same. The American worker, once the envy of the world, has slowly been transformed into nothing more than migrant workers in search of seasonal work without benefit to healthcare or any hope of a retirement package.          

    Free Trade, not Fair Trade, will change the landscape of America. For as time passes, as far as the eye can see, Hooverville’s will sprout up across America spreading like the poppies that cover Flander’s Field.          

    The chances of finding a politician or legislator of honesty and selfless-ness is as rare as reaching old age without an infirmity. America’s working-class heroes are in need of a great awakening, the ceremony of innocence was drowned. No longer will self-interest and self-gratification be an adequate replacement for social norms and the common good. There is no time left for those with unexamined lives. It is our responsibility not to make a de-mockery of our democracy. We must understand we must not idly watch this bloodless assassination of our ideals as if it were just entertainment.     

    In the immortal words of an old cowboy, “This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” R.W. Reagan, 1964.     

Philip J. Rappa is President of Together Forever Changing, Inc.; a national organization created 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.     © Philip J. Rappa 2004