Tuesday, October 30, 2012

All together now: ‘If I were president

     You can't always get what you wa-ant.

     You can't always get what you wa-ant.

     But if you don't take some time to make up your mind, you'll get what you detest.

     Apologies to the Stones.

     No apologies to the Nader voters in Florida who elected George W. Bush in 2000.

     They voted their conscience, and facilitated their worst nightmare.

     Voting for the "lesser of evils" is exactly that, voting for less evil.

      It's only rock 'n roll, but it's also the truth: You can't always get what you want.

      I wanted a lot from President Obama's leadership that I didn't get. I wanted troops out of Afghanistan the day before yesterday. I want them out tomorrow.

      I wanted more leadership about immigration, about climate change, about gun carnage, about corporations' influence over just about everything. I should be furious at Obama, not wholeheartedly in his corner, which I am.

     This is wholly rational, and I'll shout it from this corner without apology. Why? Because of what's in the other corner: Grover Norquist. The National Rifle Association. The religious right. Fox News. The Koch Brothers. The Minutemen.

      Revulsion for said components drives many of my columns, rather than praising anyone in particular. Recently, observing as much, a Republican  asked, "Really, what are you for?"

      The question caused me to write down a list of things I'm "for" — in fact, what I  would do if president — the intention being for us to compare notes.

      Having so committed myself, I realize that every American should do the same at a time like this, and vote accordingly, choosing which of the viable options is closest to enabling what would happen if he or she were in the Oval Office.

     If president, I would:

     Tell the truth about deficit spending: For more than a generation we've bought more government than we wanted to pay for, and we should pay more — every one of us, and immediately — so as not to ask our children and grandchildren to do it.

     Chastise Americans into investing as much in peace as in war. For instance, I'd advocate to have school children study the art of conciliation as intently as their history books extol missiles and muskets.

     Make conservation our official energy policy, and in that way, with demand plummeting, let the free market take care of all else, including gasoline prices and OPEC's urges.

     Lay out for the nation the actual costs (lucre for middle men) of relying too heavily on the makers of profit for our health care.

     Remind Americans of two things at every turn when the issue of abortion flares: The best means we have of preventing it are (1) contraception and (2) comprehensive and smart sex education.

     Campaign for gay rights, including gay marriage, in the same way Lyndon Johnson campaigned for civil rights, and Martin Luther King Jr. campaigned against bigotry.

    Point out that standardized tests aren't a way to boost the performance of public schools but to hobble them.

    At every point, put a human face on the need for the DREAM Act, and on the dilemma faced by young people whose parents came here illegally and would have nowhere to go, even if we forced them. This is their home, after all. I'd also crusade for a streamlined path to citizenship for those who, though here illegally, work every day for America's betterment.

     Denounce the cost — in dollars, cents and human potential — of the insane, futile and ultimately counterproductive drug war, which only succeeds in filling prison cells and making creepy goons into wealthy goons.

      Tell Americans it would be my objective as president to have fewer inmates in our prisons than resided there at my inauguration.

      Shame so-called men and women of faith into worrying as much about the poor and the disenfranchised as they appear to worry about sex and sexuality.

     Those are things I am "for." It's clear to me which side leans in the directions I support. What about you? You can't always get what you want. However, if enough of us talk about those things that matter most to us, as opposed to those things driven by corporate influences and money bags who buy air time, maybe we'd get what we need.

     Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.








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