You know what hope is
Hope is a bastard
Hope is a liar
A cheat and a tease
Hope comes near you?
Kick it’s backside
Got no place in days like these

Nick Hornby, as sung by Ben Folds, “Picture Window” from Lonely Avenue

It has been suggested, more than once, that the posts that appear under this name are not as cheery as they might be or once were. Starting this one with dark lyrics from song by Ben Folds and Nick Hornby about a family watching an apparently incurable loved one checking into a hospital “with a view of Parliament Hill” promises yet another trip down the same path, but there is some good news out there:

President Obama will surely be re-elected, and that is a good thing and the virtual certainty of his re-election has little to do with Osama bin Laden. Our president is a good one, maybe a great one or one who might become a great one. We will somedat remember his presidency fondly, and truly, will mourn its passage when he leaves the office in 2017. This post will not debate that, a Rachel Maddow segment linked to in last week’s post makes the case as to what his presidency has accomplished so far, and this one, similar to many of her recent segments, should suffice to explain how far the Republican Party has drifted away from any platform that could elect a president. Have your Obamabot conversations elsewhere (at least this week) and save for another day your concerns that, say, a New Yorker cover could alter the likely results of next year’s presidential election.

Here, though, is our weekly dose of bad news. His re-election, even his greatness, will not—without something else that does not appear to be forthcoming—not nearly enough to prevent our further sinking into a morass from which we may become unable to escape.

Every day we read the same general articles. The two in Wednesday’s New York Times were typical (by the same reporter, Fernanda Santos, interestingly enough) but no less significant in reporting something we see almost every day that is not spent worrying about which movie star broke up with which other one:

One reported that young teachers, recruited away from whatever more lucrative opportunities that the well educated have presented to them, likely will be among those laid off as the New York City school system is forced into massive layoffs.

The other was about how our refusal to pay for the most essential of functions has resulted in schoolchildren forced into finding a way to get through the day without using a bathroom and special education students receiving physical therapy in a hallway “between a classroom and a tall file cabinet” as the obviously talented Ms. Santos writes.

These stories are about New York City mainly because your blogger works there— not far from Corona, the site of the overcrowded school Ms. Santos describes—-but they surely could be from almost anywhere else in the country. And it comes on the heels of the increasing proof that the selfishness and greed that have replaced our sense of national mission to improve the lot of the people who live here and of those around the world, have consequences that are dire in ways we can hardly begin to forecast.

These posts have cataloged some of these kind of stories before, but the latest, telling us that three quarters of high schools students could not name a power granted to Congress by the Constitution, answers such questions as why people believe that voting for some person who gets elected president is their sole responsibility as a citizen, and that if the president cannot accomplish what needs to be done, someone else should be “put in there” to solve the problem.

An electorate with such a dim awareness of what goes on in front of their very noses, is likely to be in a constant state of agitation, but easily manipulated by those who have specific goals in mind which may not be in accord with the views of those who vote, but have no other connection to their government. With beltway enablers who believe that political neutrality means simply allowing “both sides” of an question to speak, no matter how ridiculous, selfish, greedy or otherwise absurd “one side” is, our schools crumble and idealistic teachers forced from the profession, while Congress debates just how much more it can cut from a budget which should instead be increased to meet the needs of the country. (As Rachel pointed out this week, the Sunday shows all decided that a national security issue required huge numbers of Republicans—former Bush administration officials—-to be put front and center since, as we know, only Republicans know how to protect the country.)

The shock the freshman Republicans expressed when they found out that, contrary to the Beltway wisdom, the conversion of Medicare into a voucher program, so as to finance the continuation of massive tax breaks foolishly enacted a decade ago, was grossly unpopular, is itself an indication of how out of touch our Congress for sale has become. It presents, though, little cause for hope since all the electorate cared about was getting what they had expected to get. Paying for it is of no concern, but if it is, get what the country needs from someone else.

Hope, we recall, is a city in Arkansas that gave us a president. Hope, we recall, is what President Obama represented in 2008 but hope can also be, as Nick Hornby says, a bastard, a liar, a cheat and a tease, especially when it becomes the only way to treat a patient.

We are a broken country but what we need cannot come from one man sitting in the White House. Hope can propel is forward, but the extent to which we ever reached greatness came from our commitments to educate our children, to care for the sick and elderly, to try to improve the lot of those with whom we share the country and the world, as well as to protect us from harm, both from abroad and self-inflicted by the greedy among us,

not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich

Those were the words, of course, of the president who inspired so many of us to heed his call and become public servants and to do for our country. And, again, while the Koch brothers or the late President Reagan tell their acolytes that it is just those public servants who are destroying their dream, these same words from That Speech, published here almost every week it seems, serve as the only real response that makes sense:

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need — not as a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation,”² a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Next week we will try for some giggles including a non baseball explanation of why Red Sox manager Terry Francona, in a manner similar to that of our President, has shown us all how to meet the problems we face. Promise.


3 thoughts on “Hope

  1. I was doing a little experiment a couple days ago and was casually watching FOX to see how many times in the course of a day one or the other winger commented that taxes need to be reduced. I was surprised to see how many times somebody says that.

    There is an awful lot of nationally crucial stuff, apart from defense, that government does that the private sector just cannot do. We’re going to be finding out about all this stuff sooner than later I’m afraid. BP and the Minerals Management Service gave us a heads up on this but I don’t think it’s sunk in at all.

  2. Barth

    Sadly, some of this involves helping people, including children, get enough food to eat. FOX doesn’t give a bleep, and the beltway doesn’t seem to either.

    1. The fundamental inequality in the social, political and financial goes unaddressed because it has become commonplace. Our adaptability often means that we grow accustomed to the most horrendous of injustices. Just look around and see for yourself how people are being stripped of their self-esteem. There have already been any number of extreme negative reactions to this with more to come.

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