May I beg your indulgence to consider just where we are in the real world in which our continuance and decent lives are increasingly fraught with uncertainty? Preferring partisan differences and hostilities, campaigns – for president and Congress – are not bothering to acknowledge our critical situation or attend its causes and necessary remedies.

For too long, we have been engaged in a bitter battle between those who understand “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to mean freedom to seek wealth and, with the least government interference and demands, to live as lavishly as such wealth permits, and those who recognize the Constitution’s obligation “to promote the general welfare,” however insincere its authors, many of them slaveholders, were in penning it. Those on the liberty-happiness track argue that free markets raise all ships on the tide of wealth. “General welfare” devotees call for government intervention to secure the common good.

After the Civil War, industrialization became the arena of battle – between the robber barons and fledgling workers’ unions – a war the Great Depression largely disrupted.

Franklin Roosevelt showed the way toward a healthy economic order with pragmatic New Deal government interventions such as the minimum wage and Social Security, which, with World War II production, ended the Depression. The prosperity that followed, and accepted levels of government taxation, under Democratic and Republican presidencies alike, created a degree of worker family security and a large middle class, built the interstate highway system and pursued the Cold War. They were good times.

But then Ronald Reagan, following on Barry Goldwater, raised the banner of unregulated or little-regulated economic liberty in pursuit of wealth that evolved into license – to exploit foreign resources, break unions, outsource labor, increase production without wage increases and avoid taxes. Washington, now driven by hostility to government, opposition to abortion, fear and the manipulative skills of media talk show propaganda, increasingly became the enabler of greed – now masked as servant of the losers betrayed by Bill and Hillary Clinton Democrats. The unprecedented concentration of our national wealth in a few hands is, undeniably, an obscene excess of liberty that rejects outright the Constitution’s commitment to the general welfare.

Throughout these years, the maw of outsized military expenditures, the danger of which Eisenhower warned, showed the way for greed amok in Washington. Bipartisan Congresses have squandered billions, now $6.4 trillion, on arms, unjustifiable wars and proxies from Central America to Asia and Africa since 2001 – without provoking even a moment’s mention in 21 presidential debates!

This inequality commands recognition of what many would ignore or deny: the reality we have made which now endangers us all and challenges our common dignity as human beings. But this challenge goes well beyond income inequality:

The dire effects of still-increasing carbon pollution are upon us in rising temperatures and unprecedented storms and droughts. Destruction mounts; scientists quake and forecast humanity’s doom.

With 70 million refugees worldwide, hundreds of thousands of our creation, and multiples soon to come, the most fertile and richest nation would become a gated community excluding all but Caucasians to “make America great again.”

State-funded health care in First World countries is far cheaper than ours with better results, since many here, uninsured, go without care. Cuba has a much lower infant mortality rate. We have diverted Federal Emergency Management Agency funds and dismissed Puerto Rico’s destruction in favor of Donald Trump’s wall – and dismantled our defense against pandemics, putting all of us now in mortal danger.

After the heroism of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, we find ourselves, half a century later, still in a slough of white privilege – white supremacy – manifest in education, housing, employment, wealth and elemental safety of life, its ravages blinked by our elected supreme leader. We have by far the highest incarceration rate worldwide, mostly African-American victims of white privilege.  We largely ignore it.

Bernie Sanders excepted – but neutered by Democratic Party honchos and a full-press media bias – what candidate, nationally or in Maine, acknowledges, much less addresses, this sobering reality?


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