EVERYWHERE, USA -- How is labor supposed to rest on this noted day when there are so few jobs? The many unemployed already have nothing but downtime. How did a rich, progressive, innovative, democratic, promising nation, always one with a frontier to conquer, become stuck in high joblessness and its growing disease, low expectation? Where will our children’s children be on Labor Day 2051? Where are many Americans today?
This nation, conceived in liberty, should not have won its war against the well-trained and equipped British; came close to returning to the king in 1812; could have been destroyed by our worst conflict -- brother against brother in the Civil War; could have collapsed economically in the later-1800s depressions; could have lost its identity in the great immigrations, if Old World prejudices had lingered; could have withered and collapsed in the Great Depression; and could have been permanently misdirected in the civil rights crisis, the Vietnam War, Watergate and Sept. 11. But our citizens' bearings remained set. We continued our optimism, inventiveness, innovation, charity and move toward equality.
Not so government, which has lost its way. Today, the presidency and the Congress are isolated, reacting largely to the monied interests required for re-election, encumbered by procedure and lobbies that keep the executive and legislative branches apart from the American mainstream -- its pain and suffering, its hopes and desires.
On this Labor Day 2011, the sweat of many millions of our men and women, our forebears, are now the tears in the eyes of the jobless, in the eyes of parents who fear for their children’s future. Yet we retain our great energy and patriotism and native can-do American spirit ready to tackle the next frontier, if only, if only, that would be set by our leaders.
Where are they?