In an effort to bolster her political viability, all the while sharpening her demagogue skills, Hillary Clinton recently proclaimed to an audience on one of her campaign stops that it is the middle class which makes America great.
Now that certainly is the soothing sort of rhetoric which people in the middle class might like to hear, however, is it true? Not to take anything away from the middle class, but how do we define greatness, and what qualities inherent in greatness exist to an extent more abundant within the middle class than say, the upper class, or say, the lower class?
What if I were to say it is the upper class which makes us great? I would probably get some praise, but I might also get some disdain from middle class Americans who consider themselves the backbone of America. No argument that the middle class is the backbone of America and that backbone certainly supports America. I’d even say without that backbone we could not be great, but does that backbone make us great or instead allow greatness to flourish?
How about this? It is the lower class which makes us great! Any takers? No?
Don’t be absurd, Jim, the lower class doesn’t pay taxes, they don’t make any money, they don’t give near as much to America as does the middle class. Hell, the lower class probably costs us in services and assistance!
By that standard the upper class gives much more and takes much less than the middle class. It’s settled, the upper class makes us great.
How do you like that? We’re great because of Paris Hilton. Yikes!
When we think of greatness we think of great producers and of great accomplishments. We think of sports heroes, businessmen, intellectuals and inventors. We think of enduring great hardship and of alleviating hardship. We think of hope and of wonder. We think of overcoming great obstacles and great scientific challenges.
We marvel at Jesse Owens beating Hitler’s Aryans at the 1936 Olympics. We admire a baby faced Bill Gates becoming the wealthiest man on earth and changing the world in the process. We awe Alfred Nobel, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Benjamin Franklin.
We ruminate over great tragedies like the World Trade Center. We are amazed by Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, by the Space Shuttle and the Spruce Goose.
Greatness isn’t defined by rhetorical accolades flung from greedy politicians trying to buy votes, greatness is defined by excellence, accomplishment, and the arduous effort which moves mankind emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and sometimes even monetarily. We recognize greatness isn’t some obscure and ambiguous quality difficult to comprehend.
Greatness is defined by value.
Value is the soul of greatness, and value doesn’t get ascribed to some anonymous and monolithic group just because some stupid politician says it does.
Copyright 2007 Jim Pontillo