Inspired by the Tea Parties of April 15, 2009.
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, we now know the answer.
It’s the answer told by unemployment lines that stretch around Walmarts and gas stations in numbers this nation has never seen; by people waiting hours upon hours, because they believe that this time must be different; that their call really is important to the corporation or government agency they’ve called, and that an American (or at least a Canadian) will pick up the phone, listen to them, and actually address their concerns.
It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve, that they are correct, and that government will do everything in its power to protect itself at our expense.
It’s been a long time coming, but now, because of what we have done these last days, at this defining moment, government has grown even more in America.
We did this to ourselves because we did not understand. For even as we suffer now, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, maybe a third or fourth, the worst financial crisis in a century, and we’re making it worse by the day.
There are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us, wondering if they’ll return home, and if they do, whether they will still own their home or be able to find a job.
There will be setbacks and false starts. We know that government can’t cause every problem, but they will try. And above all, they will ask you to join in the work of destroying this nation the way it’s been done in America for hundreds of years – bribe by bribe, bankruptcy by bankruptcy, foreclosure by foreclosure.
So let us acknowledge the true spirit of big government, where each of them resolves to work less and take more from us. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot thrive while Congress rules Main Street and Wall Street.
On my mind tonight is a woman. She’s a lot like the millions of others standing in line except for one thing – She is 106 years old.
I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – Prohibition and the War on Drugs; the New Deal and the Great Society; the times we were told that they can’t do such things, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes they can.
You thought the government couldn’t take your house so someone could build a shopping mall: Yes they can.
You thought the police couldn’t arrest you without probable cause: Yes they can.
You thought they couldn’t take your hard-earned money and then use it to bail out large corporations, which then gave the money as bonuses to the executives who tanked our economy: Yes they can.
You thought they couldn’t hold you in jail or take your car, home and drivers license away until you were proven guilty in a court of law: Yes they can.
You thought they couldn’t eavesdrop on your phone calls and spy inside your home: Yes they can.
You thought they couldn’t just print money to pay the bills: Yes they can.
You thought they couldn’t take away your guns: Yes they can.
You thought they couldn’t interrogate you in an airport just because you have some cash and you work for a non-mainstream campaign: Yes they can.
A congressman was arrested for DUI, another was caught being naughty in a bathroom, still another caught hitting on young boys, and all the while Presidents, congressmen and other government officials keep lying to the People. Yes they can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there are so many more ways they can screw us. So let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; what change will they see? How much worse will we have made it?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to let our people go back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity by getting government out of the way; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that the Constitution limits the powers of government and protects the rights of individuals; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that they can, we must stop that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a corrupt government:
No They Can’t!
A riff on Obama’s “Yes We Can” acceptance speech after the 2009 election. This was also inspired by all the parents who have called me about how their kids were abused by the police in one way or another, and they always ask: “Can they do that?” Yes they can! And they do. And they’ll keep doing it until we make them stop.