"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
Every schoolchild in America knows these words. For those of us who have forgotten those halcyon days of elementary school, carefully reciting the words of our founders, they are to be found near the beginning of the Declaration of Independence.
With those words began a revolution. A revolution predicated on the idea that the individual had worth (we'll ignore the obvious double standards for the moment, of woman, blacks, and indigenous peoples who were not treated equally, for the sake of discussing the ideal). A revolution forged on the idea that the government belonged to the people, not the people to the government. With those words, we became citizens, rather than subjects, and our world changed.
The Constitution continued in that tradition. Read carefully the Bill of Rights, and you will find something not taught to many American schoolkids. The simple truth is, the Bill of Rights does not GIVE us a single right; but rather, they define rights the Founding Fathers felt were clearly God given and could not be taken by any government.
Enter 2011. When we have a generation of people who believe that big government is good when it grants money to Goldman Sachs, GE, and BP, but bad when it keeps its promises to social security recipients and to the next generation by providing an education to ensure that, while they may not be equal, they have equal opportunity. A generation that has villainized teachers and lauded opportunistic talking heads who speak for the corporations, for the wealthy, for a class that shaves gold into its food and turns its nose up at the poor despite building their wealth on the backs of those very poor.
When the first stimulus bill was passed, we were told that the banks needed bailouts because they were "too big to fail". The same banks that made questionable investments. The same banks that would exploit loopholes and robosigners to evict hardworking families from the homes they had once bought with a youthful glint in their eye and a promise of seeing grandchildren swing on the swing of that old oak tree.
Well, I am possessed of the opinion that the individual is too little to fail. We built this country on the idea that the individual was important, had value, had worth. We impressed upon our children's minds that they could become anything they wanted, even the President of the United States, and we fostered that ideal to such an extent that our country is now governed by a man who was born 3 years prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, at a time whan he couldn't have even voted in many states, much less held elected office.
What the Democrats have forgotten, what the Republicans have forgotten, what the Tea Party has forgotten, is that somewhere in this discussion we cannot forget the individual. In the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, we forged a social contract with these individuals. A social contract we have long forgotten.
It's time to talk to our representatives, not about giving more tax breaks to the wealthy, but about remembering those who are too little to fail.