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JOIN or DIE

I’m not big on signing pledges and contracts. I’ll leave that to the Republicans. It seems that every time one of the GOP presidential candidates opens his mouth, he has to sign a pledge placating whatever group he is addressing. They pledge to never abort someone else’s child. Never to enjoy gay sex. Deport all Muslims. Never allow same sex couples a minutes peace. Cut taxes and balance the budget in one fell swoop and on and on…

That’s why I am always leery of some new Democratic version of the same propaganda. It all started with Newt Gingrich in 1994 when he promised to give Corporate America their entire Christmas list with his “Contract on Americans“. Newt and the new GOP majority trotted out all the time-honored Republican flimflam. Tax cuts, balanced budget amendment, more military spending, term limits, cut payments to “welfare queens”, etc.

Now a new group led by Moveon.org and Rebuild the American Dream has released the next in the long litany of empty political promises. I’m not saying that the new “Contract for the American Dream” is any better or more forthright than any of the thousand other pledges out there, but I do think it is a document that every American should read. The goals outlined by the Contract reflect a positive, rather than the cynical and gloomy outlook that we have all become used to. There is no mindset that the country is headed to Hell in a hand basket if we don’t change in the next fifteen minutes. The compact in the ten-step program deals with long-term, common sense solutions like rebuilding infrastructure, ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, ending foreign wars and bringing our troops home, living wages, a small fee on Wall  Street transactions. public financing of elections and saving Social Security among other things.

Yes, it is a litany of progressive views and propaganda. It doesn’t deal with forbidding the marriage of immigrant Muslim gays. But, it is something that you might like to paste up on your fridge if for no other reason than to remind yourself occasionally that there are still sane people in the world. Displaying it may piss off some of your Corporate Tea Party friends, but let’s face it, they are already a bit suspicious of you because your FaceBook page doesn’t have enough quotes from the Constitution. So, take a look. You aren’t required to memorize the Contract. You will still be allowed to vote if you disagree with Point 3 and no one will come to your house and break your kneecaps if you forget Point 7. Just look it over and smile at the optimism.

We’ve all seen the silly Corporate Tea Party flags and t-shirts with the coiled don’t-tread-on-me snake inspired by a quote from Benjamin Franklin. There is a much more important Franklin cartoon that is especially important to remember. In 1754 Ben Franklin used this serpent woodcut illustration to plead for unity against those who would destroy our union. Today it is no longer the French, the British or the Russians, it is the corporate overlords and their influence against whom we must stand united.

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