Vonnegut in Charge

Discussion Question:
If you were president [either of Taiwan or the US], what do you think would be the most important things to take care of, and how would you do it?

Ever concerned with raising the level of political discourse in this country, we asked novelist Kurt Vonnegut to compose an acceptance speech for Michael Dukakis. Of course, writers have contributed to presidential oratory in the past, but their efforts were lost in the revision-by-committee process. Here's the real thing, unfiltered and undiluted.

I am here to serve the people of the United States of America -- all of them, in all ways which are lawful.
I will not now speak of my humbleness. It has been said with some truth, I suppose, that almost anyone can grow up to be President. I have to add, ''But surely not an humble child.'' The Presidency is simultaneously a pinnacle of power and of vanity, and God help us all.
An aspect of my vanity, which seems to have found favor with a majority of those who chose to vote, is my belief that, with the help of the fourth branch of government mentioned in our Constitution, ''We the people,'' I can do a lot to help the United States of America become the United States of America--at last, at last.
The echo of Martin Luther King in my words is intentional when I say ''at last, at last.''
It will do us no harm today, as it has surely done no harm to other nations I need not name, to acknowledge a past soiled with atrocities, including, in our case, slavery and genocide, and the treatment of women of whatever race under law as though they were not citizens but property. Let us celebrate how far we have come from such bad old days in so short a time, and measure how far we have yet to go.
What better measurement might we use for progress made and progress yet to come than the health and happiness and wisdom and safety of all our people? And make no mistake about it: This nation is the most astonishing and admirable experiment in pluralistic democracy in history. Because of our wealth, the fairness of our Bill of Rights and the openness of our long borders, every conceivable sort of human being is now an American.
We are the world.
There is much in the recent past I would undo, if I could, especially our overwhelming national debt, whose undoing will be slow and painful. I will try to find out what good things, if any, we bought with all that money, borrowed mostly from foreigners. I will report back to you, whose children and grandchildren must pay it back with interest. I will be surprised, as I am sure most of you will be, too, if I find many purchases our descendants might thank us for.
With your encouragement, and with the cooperation of your elected representatives, I will attempt, after listening to the best-informed advisers I can find, to give future generations reasons to think well of us after all. There you have it, the principal mission of my administration: to create and bequeath to the future a decent habitat for all, free of poisons, free of hunger, free of ignorance, free of hate.
Too much, too much?
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?
Those are the words of Robert Browning, of course. I can put it a lot less elegantly, if you like:
Company's coming! Let's clean up this mess.
Many of the poisons in the water and the air and the topsoil are new. One which can sicken our spirit is ancient, and only since World War II has this country begun to fight it with any seriousness: the idea that females and persons of color are second-class citizens. That poison would love to make a great big comeback, to take its lethal place alongside nerve gas and radioactive wastes and PCBs and crack, and DDT and Agent Orange and the AIDS virus, and on and on.
Not while I'm President. In the words of Patrick Henry:
If this be treason, make the most of it.
Am I proposing a redistribution of wealth? You bet, since the wealth is being redistributed in any case, and often most crazily, and against the national interest. Am I proposing that we tax and tax and spend and spend? Yes, I am. Virtually every transaction is being skimmed already, and some private persons have done this at such confiscatory rates as to become as rich as smaller sovereign nations in a few years' time. And they spend and spend. On what? On what?
Ah, me.
Am I proposing an enormous public works program? How else might we describe our military-industrial complex, so mistrusted by that great Republican, General of the Armies Dwight David Eisenhower, when he himself became our President? With your encouragement I want to take much of the money now going into that public works program, and invest it instead in the arts of peace, the noblest of which are public health and education.
Who says otherwise? And why?
Company's coming.
I thank you for your attention.



這是意見留言版! 我真心想要聽到每個人想法及看法,因此,拜托留下你的署名!