Number 34 Had It Right

A prudent visionary addresses his nation: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machine of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

He expresses deep concern for the well-being of our posterity:

“Each proposal must be weighed in light of the need to maintain balance in and among national programs … balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

Who was that prudent visionary? Dwight D. Eisenhower – a well-respected five star general in the US Army, appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. He later became the 34th President of the United States.

In his farewell address near the end of his presidency, he warns his fellow countrymen of the potential dangers of the military-industrial complex. He clearly points out that we must guard against those who will seek to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a favored elite.

A military hero of our nation who played a significant role in overcoming a horrendous evil of the 20th century, a political moderate of the Republican party, goes on to warn fellow citizens of the dangers he sees brewing in his homeland. Has that early wake-up call been heeded sufficiently?

Increasingly, concentrated wealth, often under the guise of large corporations, is driving the political agenda and eroding the fertile soil of our democracy. Are we to let this happen to our children, grandchildren, and beyond? For the present common good and the well being and liberty of future generations, let us stand strong against this perilous concentration of wealth and power that so threatens our beloved democratic principles.

In rural America, we can start by aggressively pushing for policies that put small and beginning farmers and ranchers and main street business owners on a level playing field with over-subsidized and over-coddled large agribusiness and other mega-corporate interests. It won’t correct things overnight, but it would be a triumphant and sizeable step in the right direction.

And I’m absolutely certain number 34 would wholeheartedly approve.

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