Jewish World Review Sept. 25, 2000 / 24 Elul, 5760
AlGore: Turning dreams
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
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
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
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
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
commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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© 2000, CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.