Using the legendary ship, the Titanic, as a metaphor is a time-honored practice so let's use it again as the setting for a movie now in the planning stages which will illustrate how current policies and actions by our government, together with rapidly deteriorating conditions in our society, are taking America on a course leading directly into a national disaster.
The USS Titanic: America
Captain Obama: President Barack Obama
Ship's Officers: Congress
Ship Owners: Corporate America/the Military-Industrial Complex
Ship's Passengers: The American People
The plot of our soon-to-released movie has its beginning on January 20, 2009 as Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States. As he takes the oath of office, the nation is in a state of turmoil. It is bogged down in two major military actions, Iraq and Afghanistan, both initiated by pre-emptive invasions ordered by the Bush/Cheney team of bloodthirsty war hawks. The nation is also in the midst of a severe economic crisis that has thrown America into a deep recession. Skyrocketing unemployment, a declining manufacturing base, a Wall Street financial collapse, home foreclosures and credit card defaults have thrown our society into a state of fear and confusion.
So, at that point in time, picture the people of America aboard the ship USS Titanic with Captain Barack Obama assuming command. The captain and the ship's officers are fully aware that our nation is in dire straits as our ship of state rapidly steams toward a darkening, uncertain future. The vast majority of Americans are, figuratively, sitting on the deck of the USS Titanic, not fully aware that the ship is heading directly into a looming disaster. But, they have this uneasy feeling and fear that something is not right with this voyage. And so, they look to their Captain Obama with the hope that he will see the imminent danger looming ahead and that he will steer the ship out of this extremely dangerous situation.
But what can the captain possibly do to turn the ship in a new direction and avoid imminent disaster? Well, he knows that the two wars are draining the lifeblood out of America and, by taking rational, logical steps to wind them down; he knows that he can save hundreds of billions of dollars to right our ship of state, the economy. But the ship owners, Corporate America and the vast Military-Industrial Complex, who are the direct beneficiaries of taxpayer dollars that are used to produce expensive weapons systems, put enormous pressure on our captain not to change course. He thinks long and hard but then passively complies with their demands; he decides to escalate the Afghan/Pakistan war by about 30,000 more troops. Our captain says, "Full speed ahead and stay the course."
Time is of the essence as the danger rapidly approaches, so what is the Captain's plan? Does he provide strong leadership to confront the major problems that America faces? Not really. He and Congress waste more than a year haggling over health care reform, enact legislation for a very costly but largely ineffective new health care program that fails to include a critical public option and gives the insurance industry over 30 million new customers who will be forced to buy insurance whether they want to or not.
At the same time, he follows the Bush plan to bail out the reckless, unscrupulous, manipulators on Wall Street with hundreds of billions of dollars of yet more taxpayer dollars. As justification for these bailouts he and his economic advisers warn that if it is not done, then it could lead to a world economic depression; so the people of America, again fearing the danger ahead, buy into it. So Wall Street gets bailed out while the people of America remain in the throes of turmoil with no bailout in sight.
As the USS Titanic speeds ahead the ship's crew, aka Congress and especially the corrupt, incompetent Senate, is doing little to nothing to find concrete solutions to the massive problems at hand. The GOP filibusters almost 100% of any proposed legislation, the Democrats whine, moan, and remain clueless as to how to get anything done. And what is our good Captain Obama doing to try to break this massive gridlock? He has the presidential bully pulpit which he can use to blister the airwaves to tell the American people in clear terms why the business of the nation isn't being accomplished. He could, if he had the courage and conviction, expose the GOP as the party that refuses to follow the will of the American people; but he does not, so the gridlock continues and the problems go unsolved.
Whether we know it or not, that loud bang we just heard was a huge economic iceberg hitting the side of the USS Titanic. The ship is rapidly taking on water. Captain Obama has viable opportunities to turn the ship in a new direction; he does not. The Congress should now fully realize the extreme danger at hand and work together in a competent, rational manner to address the problems but it does not. Wall Street knows that it was the primary cause of our economic crisis but it is adamant that it will not accept any change. The Wall Street crooks are fighting tooth and nail against any financial reform or new regulation, and Congress and Captain Obama are bending to their will by significantly watering down the proposed legislation.
Trying to merely rearrange the deck chairs on our Titanic, i.e., using band aids to try to stem economic hemorrhaging is not the answer and will just lead to further turmoil. But as the ship takes on more and more water, our captain continues to tell the bridge to maintain full speed. What's happening in America is like a dream in which you are a passenger on the Titanic, hoping that you will wake up and, with a sigh of relief, realize it was only a dream. But, in the America of today, we are truly experiencing a nightmare of extreme proportions, one that seems to go on and on with no end.