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When did we begin to believe it was fair to tax the richest less, and tax the less fortunate more?

When did we begin to believe that self deportation was an answer, when it really causes the economy to shrink dramatically?

When did we begin to believe it was okay to cut tax exemptions on the middle class to raise revenue?

When did we start electing officials that want to tax the least most, and the most least?

When did we decide it was okay to start imprisoning the poor in debtors prisons again?

When did we decide it was fine to work people like slaves, providing them no job or personal security?

When did we forget the Jeffersonian emphasis on small landowners, and put their political power in the hands of big business?

The modern debate, the modern era, is caught up now in the great political debate of our generation. To whom does the political power of the United States belong? Does it belong to the wealthiest few, hiding behind shadowy organizations and contributing untold amounts to their anointed candidates? Does it belong to their corporations and the donations they make? Should the future of the United States belong in the hands of a few dozen wealthy?

Because if so, then this is not the America envisioned by Jefferson and the founding fathers. Government may have not been intended to interfere greatly in business, but neither was business meant to interfere greatly in government. Today, it seems as if only one half of that statement is heard in America. While corporations loudly balk at any notion of oversight, they pay piddling wages, demand longer hours and exploit the neediest for more. All along, they continue to interfere in government, contributing dollar after dollar. The same dollars that are being generated by the workers they overlook.

No, businesses are neither inherently evil nor good, but where their actions infringe on the natural rights of the people, then the government that the people enacted to protect them should take up their cause. Government is not only an abstract entity, controlled by homogenous groups that do not differentiate. If that were true, then it would not matter to your tax rate who was voted into office. If would not matter to whom you entrusted your health care, or who decided the availability of your contraception. If government was entirely homogenous, the way in which institutional bodies treated you on the basis of your skin color would be equal either way. If government was entirely homogenous, your ability to see a loved one in the hospital, on the basis of your sexual orientation, would be the same either way.

But it is not, will not be, because government is not homogenous. It is not abstract, it is your vote in action, it is your voice. In this year we make a decision for four years. Will we imprison the least of us for the crime of being poor? Will we raise taxes on those with the least and reduce health care benefits to those who need it, simply to create more wealth for the wealthiest?

This is America. A land of opportunity, a land of visions and a land of dreams. There are people who scoff at those who cling to ideals, who dare to dream. There are those who laugh at the notion of hope. Without the ideals, what is America? Americans who dream, who hope, do not hope for free rides. They do not hope for free money. They hope for a chance to better themselves, to work hard and be paid justly for their effort. They hope to live without government telling them who they love is wrong, or telling them they have to sacrifice in order to give the wealthiest more.

This is an America whose Hope is to achieve, to succeed and provide for its children. This is an America that does not want to be judged on the basis of its skin color, its gender or its orientation. This is the America that hopes, that dreams, that sees the best it can be. Its people do not always agree with one another, but they understand that to tolerate diversity is a strength, not a weakness.

This is an America that defies the old stereotypes. Because more than once in history, people have been accused of growing weak for tolerating different races and ideas. It was the accusation against Italy and Spain, and was the same accusation made against the colonists in New England. These were times when to associate with people of different color and background meant that you weakened yourself. We no longer believe these things. So why bring back up these old accusations and prejudices? Why resort to centuries old lies?

Because one group has ideals, and dreams, and seeks answers. Another has only the old lies that have bound people for centuries. America's greatest moments were not built on the backs of those who refused to move forward, but on the backs of those who labored for one another, who helped each other to progress. These people argued for change, argued for better treatment, argued for equality. We are children of that spirit, and we will either pass on that torch to another generation, or quietly accept the voice of stagnation and decline. The choice, as always, is ours.

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