We have an unlikely new hero. "We" are the American people. The "Hero" is Rocky Anderson, mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah'"heart of redness, politically. Wednesday, the White House's current occupant visited Utah, and Anderson stood up for all of us--right, left, center--making what was almost certainly the speech of his life.
He's withstood a boatload of backlash from the right for telling the truth. And therein lies one of the principle problems with the Bush administration and their look-alikes all around the country. Truth is in short supply and when it surfaces, Republicans go all wiggy.
Read the transcript of Anderson's gutsy speech. Here are some excerpts:
A patriot is a person who loves his or her country.
Who among you loves your country so much that you have come here today to raise your voice out of deep concern for our nation - and for our world?
And who among you loves your country so much that you insist that our nation's leaders tell us the truth?
Let's hear it: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
Let no one deny we are patriots. We love our country, we hold dear the values upon which our nation was founded, and we are distressed at what our President, his administration, and our Congress are doing to, and in the name of, our great nation.
Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism.
A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president.
That is not a patriot. Rather, that person is a sycophant. That person is a member of a frightening culture of obedience - a culture where falling in line with authority is more important than choosing what is right, even if it is not easy, safe, or popular.
We are here today to insist that those who were elected to be our leaders must tell us the truth.
We are here today to insist that our news media live up to its sacred responsibility to ascertain and report the truth - rather than acting like nothing more than a bulletin board for the lies and propaganda of a manipulative, dishonest federal government.
This is a new day. We will not be silent. We will continue to raise our voices. We will bring others with us. We will grow and grow, regardless of political party - unified in our insistence upon the truth, upon peace-making, upon more humane treatment of our brothers and sisters around the world.
We will be ever cognizant of our moral responsibility to speak up in the face of wrongdoing, and to work as we can for a better, safer, more just community, nation, and world.
So we won't let down. We won't be quiet. We will continue to resist the lies, the deception, the outrages of the Bush administration. We will insist that peace be pursued, and that, as a nation, we help those in need. We must break the cycle of hatred, of intolerance, of exploitation. We must pursue peace as vigorously as the Bush administration has pursued war. It's up to all of us to do our part.
Thank you everyone for lending your voices to this call for compassion, for peace, for greater humanity. Let us keep in mind the injunction of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." (end of excerpt)
This nation has hungered for truth and openness ever since 9/11. While that is a date that marks an immense tragedy for our country, it also is the place marker for when our government began actively moving down a dangerous, secretive, self-serving path. That agenda was already in place, but it got a jump-start on that terrible day. And we have dwelled in the shadow of fear'"perpetrated shamelessly by this administration to play out its right-wing agenda'"ever since.
We have been flim-flammed to a fare-thee-well by George Bush and his colleagues. It's over. Now. No matter what they throw at Democrats in the next two months (and we know they will pull out all the stops), it is time to plant ourselves firmly in place and refuse to be bullied into flight.
One of my favorite concepts comes via a book called "Generation to Generation" by Edwin Friedman. Simply stated, out of context, he speaks about differentiating oneself and maintaining a non-anxious presence. I'm not sure he had in mind standing up to Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. But I think it is time to stand firm in our truth.
Rocky Anderson's speech wasn't perfect, but it is definitely a rallying place for those of us who are mad as hell and unwilling to be flim-flammed any more.