For some reason, a remark Bruce Springsteen made while campaigning for Barack Obama has been echoing in my head. Those who know me well know that I believe Springsteen is a modern-day Woody Guthrie. You can bet this won't be the last time he is quoted on this blog. Here's what Mr. Springsteen said:
"I've continued to find,wherever I go, America remains a repository of people's hopes, possibilities, and desires, and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain, for many, a house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down."This is a line from a speech Springsteen made in Philadephia on October 4th, during an acoustic set at a Vote for Change Rally. The transcript of the speech is here and you can see video of his entire set here.
I think the reason those words resonate with me is this: In the darkest days of the Bush years, it really did look like we were losing things that we might not get back. It felt like our country was slowly slipping away from us. For me, it wasn't just the torture, the erosion of habeas corpus, the corporations running regulatory agencies, the lies that led to war, the incompetence and ignorance, or any of the other many shocks.
What was scary was the manner in which it all happened. It was as if resistance was futile. As the shocks continued to mount, the government all but gave us the finger and laughed in our faces. We got used to White House spokespersons who would blatantly lie to a room full of media who were almost completely cowed into submission. As late as March 2008, when an ABC reporter pointed out to Dick Cheney that recent polls showed about two-thirds of Americans thought the war in Iraq was not worth it, Cheney replied, "So?"
It was as if to say, "Ha! What are they gonna do about it?"
Well, I've realized that Bruce is right. The historic grassroots mobilization witnessed during the campaign, the rumblings of an awakened spirit of activism, and the marked change in the tone of our national political dialogue demonstrate that, in fact, we will not be conquered. George Bush and Dick Cheney can batter America, but they can't tear it down. Ideas of "opportunity, equality, social and economic justice, a fair shake for all our citizens" are too deeply ingrained here for George and Dick to waltz into Washington and ruin it all.