Perhaps the next time Sen. Lieberman decides to invoke the Bible on
the campaign trail he could read a passage from the Book of Exodus to
his running mate Al Gore. I’m referring to the Tenth Commandment.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your
neighbor’s wife … or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Or, he could cite the Proverb: “A heart at peace gives life to the
body, but envy rots the bones.”
This week, Gore escalated his attacks against insurance companies,
drug companies, oil companies and corporate America in general. He
persistently rails against Bush’s “tax cut for the wealthy.” He boasts
that he represents the people, not the powerful or the wealthy.
Whether or not you believe in the Bible, isn’t it just flat out wrong
to turn people against each other on the basis of envy and greed? To
appeal to our darker side? Wouldn’t it be better to encourage people to
aspire to success themselves, rather than demonizing the successful?
If the moral argument carries no weight with you, let me appeal to
your patriotic sensibilities. By vilifying wealth, Gore is not merely
attacking the financially successful, but all those who strive to be
successful. In so doing, he is attacking the American dream.
I’m serious. Gore’s premise is that the wealthy are evil (except for
movie stars and trial lawyers, of course). Surely we all (including
Gore) agree that it is evil to pursue evil. Therefore, according to
Gore, it must be evil to pursue wealth. Consequently, the American dream
I’m not just giving you my subjective interpretation of the American
dream. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable defines the American
dream as: “The concept that the American social, economic and political
system makes success possible for every American.”
Similarly, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Allusions defines it as
“generally referring to the ideals of freedom and opportunity on which
the United States was founded. The phrase is often used to express
personal pursuit of success — material and otherwise — frequently in a
rags-to-riches climb from poverty to recognition, wealth and honor. It
may be a reference to the achievement of comfort and security — a
house, a good job, a place in the community. Or the opportunity to
achieve great riches.”
Gore is not a champion of the “people,” but their exploiter. He is
using them as a prop in his pursuit of power. He began using this
populist rhetoric during the Democratic National Convention after
Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg advised him that he needed to solidify
his standing among union workers, minorities and other people who
normally vote Democratic but weren’t solidly behind him. Gore’s advisers
have admitted off the record that his populist pitch is also aimed at
white voters without college degrees who abandoned the Democratic Party
in the past two elections and who constitute a large percentage of the
Midwestern swing voters.
Is there any room at all in Gore’s equation for the things that made
America great — the concepts that make the American dream possible –
such as freedom and opportunity? Responsibility and accountability? Not
on your life. He has calculated that those words don’t appeal to any of
his targeted constituencies.
At least he’s consistent. Why demand accountability for ordinary
Americans when you won’t accept it for yourself? Why stand to account
for misconduct in office when you can shift the blame on to your
prosecutor? Why own up to your own failure to develop an energy policy
in seven and a half years in office when you can more easily scapegoat
the oil industry — and in the process appear to be the guardian of the
little people? Why accept responsibility for the impending insolvency of
Social Security and Medicare when you can divert attention from your
failures by scaring people with your opponent’s proposals? Why admit
that you’ve gutted the military when you can deny it and make your
opponent look unpatriotic for pointing it out?
One of the reasons this election is vitally important is that Gore’s
assault on the American dream isn’t a matter of rhetoric alone. If
elected, he intends to wage war against the values and ideals that many
of us hold dear. If Gore achieves his dream he may well shatter ours.
It’s time for them to go.