HOW FAR WE HAVE BEEN DEGRADED AS A NATION

AS YOU WATCH AND HEAR ROBERT F. KENNEDY'S SPEECH THE DAY AFTER MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. WAS KILLED (APRIL 5, 1968) THINK ABOUT THE CHARACTER OF THE RHETORIC WE HEAR FROM OUR POLITICIANS TODAY.




AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, THINK ABOUT THE RHETORIC WE'VE HEARD AND CONTINUE TO HEAR FROM OUR CURRENT PRESIDENT.   


This post stems having seen the movie "Bobby" tonight which I had never seen before.   It was not a successful movie and the reasons for this are readily apparent.  It's a mixture of video clips of Robert Kennedy on the campaign trail in 1968 and typical Hollywood drivel for the rest.  But what happened to me is that I found myself in tears every time there was a real time, real world video clip of Robert F. Kennedy.  I wasn't expecting this but it happened.  And I couldn't help thinking about the horror show that we've been treated to thus far in the Trump Administration.

There is no question that both Robert Kennedy and his brother President John F. Kennedy, assassinated five years before the speech I posted above, had the gift of rhetorical brilliance.  John Kennedy was measured and thoughtful, Bobby, sharper and more pointed, but both had the power to move people who were listening to them.  It's the same phenomenon I've seen in person from boxing champ, Mohammad Ali.   It brought back to my mind the night RFK was shot in the Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel as he was celebrating his just won victory the  California Presidential Primary.  The killing of Martin Luther King, Jr. was fresh in America's collective mind when Bobby was shot by Sirhan Sirhan.  As Bobby lay dying in an LA hospital that night, I went down to the Mall, sat on the ledge of the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial where in 1963 the Reverend King gave his "I Have A Dream" speech.  I cried then, too, thinking what had the country come to when our greatest leaders were being gunned down, seemingly with abandon. 

But as the closing credits to "Bobby" rolled by on my television screen with Bobby's speech in the background, I couldn't help thinking that it used to be that our political leaders had a responsibility for setting the tone and the direction of the country.  And I suppose that's still true.  John Kennedy certainly took hold of the nation and presented us with challenges and exhortations to be more than just worker slugs grubbing to make ends meet.  He challenged us to be more, to be agents of world wide change for the betterment of all mankind.  Robert Kennedy, in a different style than that of his brother, exhorted us to come together and unite around the humanity of all Americans despite our differences in outlook, views and political leanings.  

Today?  We have no one who speaks to our common heritage and to our common goals and objectives.  Yes, Barack Obama, also with the gift of oratorical brilliance, exhorted us to unite in hope and change but was thwarted by our current toxic political environment.

And what our leaders say, what the words they speak to all of us, matters.  It's why they are called "leaders" as opposed to just another forgettable voice in the cement mixer of political chatter that we find ourselves in today.  

As Washington, D.C. erupted in flames like dozens of other cities across the nation did too after the assassination of MLK, Robert Kennedy went to ground zero in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he was campaigning and spoke to the Black community to call on rioters to not take out their frustration and anger in violence and destruction by looting and burning but to work to unite the country in erasing racism from our culture.  At the time, there was probably no other politician who could speak to a crowd amidst the flames of riotous destruction and not be attacked, not be derided, not be dismissed as an irrelevant White politician which in and of itself, is an astounding tribute to Robert Kennedy's fundamental humanity.  Nothing more, nothing less.  There was literally no one else in the country who could have done this.

And yet, when you look at the reality show spectacle that is the Trump Presidency, one might be forgiven for asking "Where the fuck are our leaders, like JFK, RFK, & MLK who exhort us to greatness?  Who ask us to put aside our differences, who ask us to confirm and implement what is the American ideal, who challenge us to rise above our hostilities to come together in a union of what it really means to be an American?  We have fallen to the level of political and social grudge matches where the President is engaged in a revenge campaign to erase all traces of liberal influences on public policy.   This is exactly where we are today.  No reference to what might be best for America as a nation and no consideration of what might be in the best interests of all of us as plain, simple, hard working Americans.

This, folks, is where we are today.  No one, among our so-called leaders,  asks us to rise above our political differences to seek the truth, to set aside our political differences for the greater good, to sacrifice our personal predilections to achieve what (until recently) all was considered America's fundamental goal: Realizing The American Dream."  John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. understood that America was divided, was fractured, held in its soul the stark divides among us.  But the Kennedy brothers and Reverend King spoke to the overarching theme of America's promise both to us as Americans and to every single nation on Planet Earth.

This, folks, is what we've lost since the days of JFK, RFK and MLK in the 1960's and it is precisely this "theme" that Trump trashes daily and the "theme" that all of us, as true Americans, must look to in order to re-establish our internal integrity and reclaim America's world role as the planets foremost purveyor of freedom, liberty and democracy.  
   
     


The bottom line is that after thirty years of conservative rule we have come to a point in our democratic experiment where all of our ideals have simply flown the coop.  They simply do not exist any more.  We are offered up an empty trough of ideals and aspirations for America.  

Are we, as Americans, be up to the tasks that face us?

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