Sunday, May 11, 2014

Twice in One Day can’t be a Coincidence

The coincidence I’m talking about is Ralph Nader (appearing on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now) and Robert Reich (on his blog) making the case that the political right and left are coalescing around the populist cause. Both of them offered independent opinions on the subject during the week just past.

Excuse me? The two disparate antagonists, Dems and Reps, who bound the Congress hand and foot through two administrations, are finally gravitating toward the nation’s demands? That’s mind-boggling and it’s far short of a gold-rush toward Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders populism, but it intrigues me. I find it particularly interesting to hear nearly identical conclusions from Reich, a Washington insider and Nader, a total outsider. That might make even the most dedicated of the pessimist-class wonder if this country may actually turn out to be governable after all.

As Sir Winston Churchill was fond of saying, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.” There’s a hell of a lot of truth in that and I am equally fond of saying Americans are at their best with their backs against the wall. We certainly have our collective backs against the wall today in almost all aspects of American life. But we’ve tried almost everything else and are possibly on track to doing the right thing.

If this is another Pearl Harbor moment, the enemy has truly sunk our Pacific fleet in a vast array of complicated maneuvers. Take your pick, from global climate change to job loss, healthcare, student-loan debt, a failing consumer-class, fraud and corruption in both our governing and financial institutions, tax avoidance and disparity, education, an unbridled military and the shut-down of democratic demonstration. Have I missed your personal favorite? Probably.

But just as we were blindsided by the sneak-attack that opened World War Two and found us unprepared, America has at hand the tools, know-how, intelligence, stick-to-itiveness and guts to drive the enemy deep back into its own territory and ultimately win. One might well remember that, at the height of German submarine warfare, we were losing 50 ships a month in the Atlantic, a total of 175 warships and 2,825 merchant ships, but saved ourselves (and Europe) by building ships at twice that rate. When American shipyards ran low on steel, they invented reinforced concrete merchant ships, but they got the job done.

Getting the job done is the most basic and intuitive American principle, the major factor that differentiates us from other cultures and nations. If indeed Reich and Nader are correct in their prognostication, the first sliver of a dawn yet to emerge may well light the horizon. If that is the case--and we don’t run out of time, the nation has all the tools at hand. We certainly have the will to be set loose on such a productive assignment.