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  • Writer's picturePhilip Drucker

Communique "Be Like Ike" 5-1-2022

So where do we begin with Project Unity? I’d begin at a time not too long ago. After the contentious times following the Vietnam War where quite rightly a large part of the next generation realized they were being used as cannon fodder to pad the profit margins of the Military-industrial complex it was time to re-evaluate the way forward. Eisenhower's "Military-Industrial Complex" Speech

Nixon proved to be nothing but a distraction at best, and a willing participant in keeping the status quo, no matter the cost to a nation tearing itself apart where half the population no longer wanted to fight in a war we had already lost to the hearts and minds of our supposed enemies.

We were told if America did not take up the cause, Southeast Asian nations would suffer a “domino” effect, falling one by one into the grips of communism, never to see the sweet light of democracy and freedom again.

On March 29, 1973, the last American military forces left Vietnam. Shortly thereafter, North and South Vietnam reunified into one sovereign country under one government. The remaining countries, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore did not follow suit.

The only logical conclusion being we were lied to. And when on June 13, 1971, the New York Times printed the Pentagon Papers, we discovered not only was the American public consistently and systematically at best misled about the true situation, the cruelty, animus and general lack of consideration for life, all life on both sides of the battlefield, in the villages and the streets was equal parts staggering, astounding, and appalling. 40 Years After Leak, Weighing the Impact of the Pentagon Papers

It was a few years later when I began to attended college with an eye towards majoring in Political Science that I first remember hearing the terms “liberal” and “progressive” as if they were two separate ideologies.

This made sense to me for the term “liberal” meant not choosing the most radical of social remedies available for whatever short-term ailment America may be suffering from, but to begin considering alternative routes of protocol, decorum, building a newfound respect for the law based on transparency and finding the new way, an inclusive way forward.

I don’t recall any attitude that would represent “throwing out the baby with the bath water.” With few exceptions, I don’t remember very many of my classmates demanding we become communists, or socialists or employ any economic system other than capitalism, with perhaps a few tweaks.

We all remembered seeing the draft lottery every year in the papers and were happy to be free from that specter, free to pursue our lives and education without the threat of involuntarily forced to fight a war or find a doctor willing to deem you 4-F. Make no mistake, we all experienced and then shared the cold, dread of finding your birth date at the top of the list.

So “liberal” became a sign of those who wished to inspect and perhaps interject some of the information recently learned to make society a better place. Nobody I know believed, with or without Nixon in office that Utopia was around the corner.

It was more of the first time I recall the general well-being of the average American being placed back above the needs of the corporations and the state. No longer would I hear “What’s good for GM is good for the United States” for it was no longer entirely true and the price, simply too high.

Why, throw in a few exploding Pinto gas tanks and it was a clear case of profit over people, with shareholder greed the beast that must be fed, this time around by the lives of innocent Americans.

Salt of the Earth types most of whom wouldn’t hurt a fly who needed inexpensive transportation to drive to and from work, mothers who dropped off their kids at school, shop for food and clothing, and maybe, just maybe a great American vacation by car once a year.

So, in a great way, “liberal” meant seeking out and encouraging new ideas and new innovations to ensure we did not make the same mistakes that were still fresh in our memories. Admittedly, the goal was to move forward if possible but based on the most amount of truthful information and not based on mindless misgivings, stereotypes and fears that did not exist, or if they did exist, not on the existential threat level we had been led to believe.

“Progressive” was a bit different. For my money, being “progressive” was, well, an aggressive liberal, one who felt the “old ways” were at best obsolete and at worst causing serious damage to the America Dream.

I would also add that one of the touchstones of both liberals and progressives was a belief in redefining and expanding our relationship with the government into more of a partnership, one where each entity combined their weight behind expanding the rights of the community, while limiting the influence of “individuality” as the end-goal of the social compact.

This is where the “Conservative” adherents generally made their presence known. But somehow, I don’t recall any but the hardest of the hard-core GOP insisting on no changes, good, bad or indifferent at all. Did change come grudgingly?

Did the “Moral Majority” as they (not us) called themselves always have a word or two about our history and traditions of racism, religious intolerance and greed equals prosperity, as part of what made America great? Oh yeah, you bet it did. In fact, they still do.

Yet somehow Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill got things done. Clinton and a hostile Congress got things done. Jumping past the disastrous George W. Bush where lying justified any means to for the most part obtain cheap oil at the expense of invading a sovereign nation without anything but a pretext of the existence of nuclear arms.

Throw in a president of color and “compromise” was a long forgotten ideal that no longer appealed to a part of our society now set on very little more than revenge for what we, the “liberals” or the “progressives” put them through.

Keeping Social Security alive, expanding access to affordable healthcare, building roads, disarming a nuclear Iran, what were we thinking? That’s the problem. We were busy gathering accurate information and thinking, while the modern “conservative” looked to a propaganda station to validate their feelings, as opposed to the reality of having indiscriminately voted in the very person who later did not lift a finger to stop the exportation of American jobs to cheaper foreign labor markets.

This is not conservatism as I understand it. There is nothing wrong with having certain government programs pay for themselves. There is nothing wrong with cutting waste from our national budget. There are instances where some matters are better handled within the private sector. But not all, Mitt “Mr. 47%” Robber-baron probably still thinks slavery is a great business model Romney.

Me? I miss the days when optimism met skepticism and one half of the equation didn’t need to elect a white suprematism believing, LGBTQ baiting, misogynist, to lead the “patriots” in an armed revolt and insurrection against our Capitol.

So, what do we do? Do we, in the spirit of free speech and the “marketplace of ideas” stop listening? We can’t, for this denies the basic tenets of a nation that wishes to live in freedom. How much do we have to listen? Now that’s a very good question.

I imagine it depends on your general level of patience and not to be rude, but suffer fools gladly, or not so gladly as the case may be. If I may, in no way do I equate listening with even the most tacit of approval.

Most of the time, I end with something along the lines of I’m not questioning your beliefs, but I have done my own research, thank you very much, and am still of the belief that my confidence and conscience dictates a different outcome, namely, if we are going to have a government at all, it must be dedicated to the proposition that all persons are created equally, that countenance and character are important to my voting decisions, and, that mean people suck.

That last line usually gets a smile, but not always. You’ve been warned. Some people just have no sense of humor. Pity really. Forward?

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