Al gore: turning dreams into nightmares

Posted: Sep 25, 2000 12:00 AM
Perhaps the next time Sen. Lieberman decides to invoke the Bible on the campaign trail he could read a passage from the Book of Exodus to his running mate Al Gore. I'm referring to the Tenth Commandment. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife ... or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Or, he could cite the Proverb: "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." This week, Gore escalated his attacks against insurance companies, drug companies, oil companies and corporate America in general. He persistently rails against Bush's "tax cut for the wealthy." He boasts that he represents the people, not the powerful or the wealthy. Whether or not you believe in the Bible, isn't it just flat out wrong to turn people against each other on the basis of envy and greed? To appeal to our darker side? Wouldn't it be better to encourage people to aspire to success themselves, rather than demonizing the successful? If the moral argument carries no weight with you, let me appeal to your patriotic sensibilities. By vilifying wealth, Gore is not merely attacking the financially successful, but all those who strive to be successful. In so doing, he is attacking the American dream. I'm serious. Gore's premise is that the wealthy are evil (except for movie stars and trial lawyers, of course). Surely we all (including Gore) agree that it is evil to pursue evil. Therefore, according to Gore, it must be evil to pursue wealth. Consequently, the American dream is evil. I'm not just giving you my subjective interpretation of the American dream. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable defines the American dream as: "The concept that the American social, economic and political system makes success possible for every American." Similarly, Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Allusions defines it as "generally referring to the ideals of freedom and opportunity on which the United States was founded. The phrase is often used to express personal pursuit of success -- material and otherwise -- frequently in a rags-to-riches climb from poverty to recognition, wealth and honor. It may be a reference to the achievement of comfort and security -- a house, a good job, a place in the community. Or the opportunity to achieve great riches." Gore is not a champion of the "people," but their exploiter. He is using them as a prop in his pursuit of power. He began using this populist rhetoric during the Democratic National Convention after Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg advised him that he needed to solidify his standing among union workers, minorities and other people who normally vote Democratic but weren't solidly behind him. Gore's advisers have admitted off the record that his populist pitch is also aimed at white voters without college degrees who abandoned the Democratic Party in the past two elections and who constitute a large percentage of the Midwestern swing voters. Is there any room at all in Gore's equation for the things that made America great -- the concepts that make the American dream possible -- such as freedom and opportunity? Responsibility and accountability? Not on your life. He has calculated that those words don't appeal to any of his targeted constituencies. At least he's consistent. Why demand accountability for ordinary Americans when you won't accept it for yourself? Why stand to account for misconduct in office when you can shift the blame on to your prosecutor? Why own up to your own failure to develop an energy policy in seven and a half years in office when you can more easily scapegoat the oil industry -- and in the process appear to be the guardian of the little people? Why accept responsibility for the impending insolvency of Social Security and Medicare when you can divert attention from your failures by scaring people with your opponent's proposals? Why admit that you've gutted the military when you can deny it and make your opponent look unpatriotic for pointing it out? One of the reasons this election is vitally important is that Gore's assault on the American dream isn't a matter of rhetoric alone. If elected, he intends to wage war against the values and ideals that many of us hold dear. If Gore achieves his dream he may well shatter ours. It's time for them to go.