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To be Given on The West Lawn of The Capitol, October 29, 2011

This middle school teacher has had enough. Here is his speech, like it or not. The original working title: Education, Economics, and Obama.

I touch the future. I teach.  For me, it’s 8th grade Civics in northern Virginia. I tell my students that public service is a privilege and an honor, but we are living in a time when the American public  is  highly critical  of  all three branches of the federal government. Congress’ approval rating is at 9%. The president is faring somewhat better at almost 50%. I haven’t heard a rating for the Supreme Court, but it appears to be operating at the whim of large corporations and special interest groups.

As a teacher, I am a public worker, an agent of the state, a government employee. While I am thankful to have a job in this challenging economic time, I find myself placed squarely within the 99%. And it is increasingly difficult to make ends meet in the middle class. Salaries remain stagnant or are declining, while inflation reduces purchasing power. We find ourselves running out of money before we run out of month. We find ourselves resorting to charging groceries in order to put food on the table. One root canal, one hospital stay can put us behind the credit eight ball. It gets harder and harder to make the mortgage. Our kids may have to defer college, and we withhold retirement payments so that we can pay the bills and meet the physical needs of our children.

Economics is all about the choices we make to meet our needs. In 1787, the architects of our republic made a promise to as according to the social contract to “provide for the general welfare.”  Instead, our modern political institutions exist solely to provide corporate welfare. Both political parties are guilty of forsaking the economic foundation of our nation: the middle class.

The 99% of the population that has not benefited from the expansion of wealth in this nation is now speaking out and rising up to claim the popular sovereignty that was inherent in the three opening words of the Constitution: “We the people.” Our representative government is failing to live out its mandate to “secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”  The Tea Party faction of the Republican Party, in the name of deficit reduction and tax cuts, refuses to work in good faith with President Obama, who has repeatedly compromised on every issue with which he grappled as he presented bill after bill, program after program. Their singular goal is to see him removed from power, and they are willing to sacrifice your well-being to see that goal realized. And their goal is not motivated by patriotism or moral superiority. It is motivated by greed, laissez-faire economics, and perpetuation of the economic and political elite.

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