- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2007

The run for the White House is moving at a fast clip. But are we paying attention? And if we are paying attention, are we listening to what the candidates are saying, or are we listening to what the media say the candidates are saying?

The headlines aren’t looking inward because of all the talk (and fodder) about foreign affairs — war, the Middle East and Islam. Of late, even domestic affairs are viewed through the lens of foreign affairs — i.e. civil liberties, bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, etc.

Is anybody minding the house?

“Wake up everybody, no more sleepin’ in bed

No more backward thinkin’ time for thinkin’ ahead

The world has changed so very much

From what it used to be

There is so much hatred, war and poverty.”

While pollsters and pundits debate who won the Democratic and Republican debates, what are ordinary Americans debating: Is Sen. Barack Obama a black American or an African American?

What’s not being injected in the debates is obvious. It took Americans 30 years to concede that FDR’s housing “projects” had failed miserably, but for the uneducated and undereducated affordable housing remains unaffordable, and the single-family housing boom of this century is giving haves and have-nots a new false sense of security.

While school choice is positioning children for a brighter future, far too many are still being left behind, and of those who make it through high school, the over-inflated costs of post-secondary education make earning a degree within four years a pipe dream.

“Wake up all the teachers time to teach a new way

Maybe then they’ll listen to whatcha have to say

‘Cause they’re the ones who’s coming up and the world is in their hands

When you teach the children teach ‘em the very best you can.”

Sharing the burdens and baring the blame fall to each generation. The parents of my generation bore the Depression, World War II and the Korean War. By the time Boomers sat still long enough — or remained sober long enough — to even realize what was going on in ‘Nam, “Me-first” had replaced “Free Love” as a mantra.

While the horrors of Communism were overwhelming Korea in the early ‘50s, American teens rebelled without a cause, and they began idolizing a music industry that was transforming its monotonous bluesy self into rolling rhythms. Rock’n’roll, many an American parent said, produced sinful sounds. But it wasn’t the lyrics, it was the beckoning rhythms, that led Elvis (and, in recent days, President Bush) to uninhibited movement.

While parents took such cultural matters into their own hands and homes in those days — my dad would say, “I’ll string you up to a lamppost before I let you embarrass the family” — parents these days seem to have thrown in the towel. They want Uncle Sam to do the parenting, tell them what to eat and feed their families, and regulate what they hear and see in the media. We’ve gone from parents telling a child “No” to not even caring whether a child was playing a violent video game to “Honey, what does the government rating say about that new video game about the Virginia Tech shootings?”

“The world won’t get no better if we just let it be

The world won’t get no better we gotta change it yeah, just you and me.”

Sure, the crack epidemic has subsided and Mexico says it’s cracking down on its side of the border, but has anyone asked Hillary what her drug policy would look like?

Most politicians today try to be slick when discussing school choice by saying they support charter schools. Don’t you wonder John McCain’s education policy would look like? Scary, isn’t it?

Julian Bond, the chairman of the NAACP, has disparaged the White House ever since the First Boots entered in 2001. Would Barack Obama welcome him with open arms?

“Wake up all the doctors make the ol’ people well

They’re the ones who suffer and who catch all the hell

But they don’t have so very long before the Judgment Day

So won’tcha make them happy before they pass away.

Wake up all the builders time to build a new land

I know we can do it if we all lend a hand

The only thing we have to do is put it in our mind

Surely things will work out, they do it every time.”

The faces on the 2008 campaign aren’t the same as those in 2004 and 2000. But voters have let the media decide what the issues are. The media’s agenda and a community’s agenda can be simpatico. But each still looks out for its best interests.

Voters can wait until this time next year to ask the pertinent questions. But with states jousting for early caucus positions, who knows? In politics there are no guarantees.

(By the way, the lyrics? “Wake Up Everybody,” Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, 1975.)

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