CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, a self-described "advocacy journalist" and "independent populist," has a new book out called "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit."
In the book, Dobbs, who has become known for his anti-immigration stance, talks about the failure of America's political system and how the arrogance of "the elites" threatens the future of the nation. One solution to the problem, he says, is a viable third party candidate.
You can read an excerpt from "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit" below.
Excerpt: 'Independents Day'
The 2008 presidential campaign is upon us, and there should be no doubt that we are at a critical historic juncture, and the very survival of our nation may well depend on the electoral choices we make. When one scans the number of candidates seeking their party's nomination for the highest office in the U.S. government, what has seemed an interminably long campaign seems too brief and inadequate a period in which to choose a leader of great quality and character to successfully lead us in the twenty-first century.
America is a great nation whose leaders have become intoxicated with the idea that the accomplishments and achievements of preceding generations assure them not only of success, but of only limited consequences for their failures of judgment and infidelity to traditional American values. Nearly all of our political leaders seem to believe that America's wealth is so great that it cannot be exhausted; the elites of politics and business seem to believe that their power flows from a superior DNA structure that confers upon them an omniscience in economic and geopolitical affairs that three hundred million citizens cannot hope to comprehend. Their arrogance now threatens the future of our nation, and their elitist sense of entitlement has reached such heights that our leaders are now openly dismissive of the will of the people. They no longer honor our fundamental national values but instead attach themselves to the interests of multinational corporations and politi cal parties, and recognize no duty to the nation in which they prosper. Many of our political leaders rationalize their careless exercise of power and their disregard for the consequences of their decisions with their religiosity; that is, God's providence has guided and favored America throughout its history and therefore favors the faithful, if incompetent, leaders in all walks of American life. Let us pray.
Many of our corporate leaders are even more disdainful of our national values and interests than our politicians. Business leaders, if anything, seem more committed to their personal belief systems, which have been elevated to religiosity, the foundation of which is a blind faith in what they perceive to be the higher perfect power of economics and markets. "Mr. Market" knows all and knows best for these corporate masters of the universe.
These lofty elites wield their awesome social, economic, and political powers without apparent regard for the common good, the national interest, or the traditional values that have historically informed and guided America's leaders. These elitists have abandoned American ideals for self- interest, and are ignoring ordinary citizens as unworthy of their concern, obligation, and duty.
For too long the American people have deluded themselves that failures of leadership will in the fullness of time resolve themselves in our great republic, because our history has given us the assurance that partisanship is an acceptable substitute for citizenship. We've accepted our own apathy and tolerated what has become a frontal assault by the establishment elites on our national sovereignty, the welfare of our people, and our future as a nation. But there are now promising signs that the American people will soon be ready to reclaim this nation.
As I write these words, the U.S. Senate has just rejected a cloture vote on so- called comprehensive immigration reform legislation by a vote of 53 to 46. The defeat of President Bush and the Demo cratic Senate leadership all but ends the eff orts in this session of Congress to grant amnesty to twelve million to twenty million illegal aliens and to keep our borders wide open.
For four years I have fought almost daily the advocates of open borders and amnesty, and despite this Senate victory, I know that the fight will go on. That fight will likely intensify, because the political, social, and economic interests driving open borders and amnesty are powerful, the stakes could hardly be larger, and American citizens are only slowly awakening to the threat to our nation that emanates from both the left and the right, the establishment and the radical. But the American spirit is no longer slumbering. On my broadcast we have reported the facts that should form the parameters and foundation of what has at long last become a national dialogue, even if now only incipient, on our illegal immigration and border-security crisis. I have put representatives of all sides of the debate and discussion on the broadcast in an effort to examine the facts, to put the facts as we know them in perspective from the points of view of the advocates, to debate the merits and failings of those views, and to expose the varied agendas and interests of the elites who have tried to ram their positions through Congress and down the throats of American citizens who were just a few years ago unaware of the nature and extent of the threat to the American way of life.
The political contest that has resulted from our immigration and border crisis produces great passions and every bit as much heat as light. Unfortunately, the facts and the independent, nonpartisan reality that my colleagues and I try to report to our audience each night are inconvenient obstacles for the ideological orthodoxies and conflicting partisan, establishment, ethnocentric, and even radical agendas that motivate most of our national dialogue and debate on so many critical issues, and nowhere more powerfully than on the illegal immigration and border- security crisis. Too much of our national mainstream media is content to devote more airtime, ink, and kilobytes to Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith than to the events, ideas, and issues that will determine our quality of life and our future as a nation. Ours is a national entertainment media that is incentivized to appeal to the lowest common denominator in our society, a national news media that reports the ideological postures and rhetoric of both Republicans and Democrats and regards such journalistic efforts as fair and balanced. As I've said frequently, the truth is seldom fair or balanced, and it is certainly seldom represented by the partisanship and ideology of our two principal political parties.
Even before the final Senate vote on "comprehensive immigration reform legislation" was tallied, e-mails and telephone calls of congratulations started pouring into my office. But I was surprised by my reaction to that vote and to all the congratulatory messages. I felt great satisfaction, to be sure, that many of our elected officials had actually listened to their constituents, but I felt more a sense of relief at the prospect of a pause, for a while at least, in the political and media battles that might well give us all the opportunity to reflect and consider carefully our future course. And I was grateful that for the first time in a long time that senators, both Democrats and Republicans, stood up and acted like they really cared about our nation and found the courage and good judgment to demand better of themselves and the leadership of the upper house of our Congress. Senators Jeff Sessions, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, Claire McCaskill, Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, and and Byron Dorgan stood out in the fray on the Senate floor as people of character, quality, and commitment to our fundamental national values, the common good, and our national interest.
Fifteen Democratic senators and thirty- seven Republican senators voted to kill the legislation, and each of them played an important part in asserting the public good against what has become the almost always overwhelming political influence and power of corporate America and special interests, particularly the business associations and ethnocentric activist organizations that have played a disproportionately dominant role both in the national media and on Capitol Hill.
As Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said to his colleagues before the vote, "Remember this day if you vote no." Senator Graham was issuing a warning to his colleagues, seeking their support in favor of amnesty in the upcoming vote. But not only our senators but all of us should remember that day because it may well and truly have been the dawning of reasonable hope that we the people can still influence and shape our future as a nation; it was the beginning of a reason to believe, with some confidence, that we can still save the once great democratic republic inherited.
We have much to overcome in the months and years ahead, but it's been a long time since I felt as confident as I do now that we can succeed in restoring a broad commitment to our great national values: equal rights of individual liberty and opportunity, both economic and educational. I can actually imagine the American people demanding that excellence be restored to our public education system, that a better quality of life for our working men and women and their families be the goal of domestic public policy, and that the restoration of our national sovereignty and security can become an attainable governmental goal. My growing confidence is predicated on the belief that most of us are learning that America can no longer tolerate inadequate and incompetent leadership in either the White House or the Congress. Nor can we any longer tolerate our own indifference, apathy, and cynicism, which have given rise to a succession of weak and short-sighted leaders who have spoken and have acted as if our citizens were strangers to them in what they now regard as their land, not ours.
I actually believe that populism is gaining the power to defeat elitism and that our government can one day soon again legitimately claim to be "of the people, by the people, and for the people."
We Americans are surely strangers to any person who could say, "America must not fear diversity. We ought to welcome diversity." Who would utter such condescending words about our land and our people, the most diverse nation on earth? None other than President George W. Bush. Can we be such strangers to this president that he does not comprehend that this great nation's citizens are from every country, practice every religion, and are of every race and ethnicity on the planet, and that Americans will never submit to any fear of any kind? We as a people welcome millions of legal immigrants to our country each and every year, more than all other countries combined. Americans speak over 120 different languages in the New York City public school system alone. Afraid of diversity, Mr. President? What in the world are you thinking?
Let me acquaint you with the America I know. We are a nation of immigrants. But foremost we are a nation of laws. We are a nation of unprecedented diversity, and we are a people of laws. Even foreigners who visit and who are guests of this nation enjoy the same legal protection guaranteed our citizens under the Constitution. That Constitution begins with the words "we the people," and so far we have persevered, in good times and bad, in war and peace, in poverty and prosperity, because we honor our Constitution and the laws that flow from it. To paraphrase our president, our leaders must not fear the people, and our leaders must welcome democracy. America is first a nation and Americans are first citizens, despite those corporate and special interests and political partisans who insist that America is only an economy and a market and Americans are just consumers and laborers. America is a great nation, Americans are a great people, and we are desperate for great leaders who know us, understand us, and respect us. We will no longer tolerate elitists who would have Americans be strangers in our own land.
The ever-enlarging size, scope, and scale of government, business, and media are often celebrated by establishment elites who are indifferent to the rights and lives of ordinary citizens whose interests are poorly served by many of the powerful institutions that once stood for all that is best of what has been America and American. While our elites have perverted our great national purpose of providing for the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of all our citizens, they exalt ideology, partisanship, greed, and privilege. Our elites no longer talk straightforwardly and plainly. They speak instead in the jargon of Wall Street and the lexicon of globalization. Elites in business and government promote efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness rather than their responsibilities to our citizens, to the quality of life of our working men and women and their families, to the education of our young, and to our American way of life.
Straightforwardly, we have allowed our elites to mortgage our future, literally and figuratively, and to constrain our individual liberty and freedom, and it is time that we examine with clear eyes who we've become, who we are as a nation, and how American citizens will shape our own future. Both Republicans and Democrats, the president, and the congressional leadership would have us focus on fears and limitations rather than on our aspirations and hopes, and accept elitist direction toward the fate they favor. The elite establishment fears nothing more than the awakening of the American spirit and the empowerment of American citizens to determine our national destiny. Until now, the elites have had their way. It's time for the American way.
Irrespective of your politics or partisanship, your ideology or socio- economic status, our elites would much prefer we avoid important questions. Questions such as: Why, if we are the world's only superpower, why are we also the world's leading debtor nation? Why, if we have the world's most advanced military, can we not defeat an insurgency and sectarian conflict in a third-world nation of only twenty-five million people? Why, engaged in a global fight to the death with radical Islamist terrorists, does our government refuse to secure our borders and ports? Why, six years after September 11, do we have fewer allies and not more in that global battle against radical Islamist terror? And why, if ours is the world's strongest economy, have we run thirty- one consecutive years of trade deficits, lost the ability to clothe and feed ourselves, and now find ourselves dangerously dependent on other nations for our oil, computers, consumer electronics, and, increasingly, even our basic daily sustenance in almost every respect?
Those are a few of the questions we must answer, honestly and directly, if we are to shape our future and assure security and prosperity for generations of Americans to come. And we can no longer rely upon our elites to ask the right questions, and we certainly can no longer trust them to provide truthful, relevant answers.
The issues and forces, global and domestic, that challenge us and our future are all the more daunting if we lose sight of our history as a people and nation, if we forget who we are as individuals, as citizens, and if we permit ourselves to be defined by those whose ideologies and interests compel them to deny our uniqueness as a people and a nation. Should we really subordinate the interests of our fellow Americans and our nation to those of the United Nations, NAFTA, and the World Trade Organization, to multinational corporations and even the governments of other nations? I don't think so. But the orthodoxy that has built up among most of our elites in politics, business, academia, and media certainly does. Many of those elites have declared me a "nationalist" because I care about our country and our fellow citizens, and on every single issue, whether domestic or international, strongly believe that our government should put the common good and the national interest of America ahead of all else.
The "internationalists" seek the demise of national sovereignty around the world, the end of borders, and an integration of commerce and economies that observes no distinction among people in France, Indonesia, Venezuela, and America, and they cheer the "flat earth" corporatist society that recognizes people only as consumers or producers. Our elites increasingly look upon themselves as the owners and managers of this land we call America, our government as something simply to be bought and brokered, our borders as outdated obstacles to international commerce, and American citizenship as an annoying conceptual relic of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries that interferes with efficient production and distribution and heretofore predictable consumer patterns. So who and what are we if we cannot declare America as our land and ourselves to be Americans? Our elites don't want you to even consider that question, and they sure as hell don't want any of us to make a declaration. So, I will.
First, I'm an American, and damned proud of it. I'm also deeply grateful to this nation because I was born poor and this country gave me and millions upon millions of others the chance to live the American Dream. I'm also a devout believer in our fundamental national values of equality of liberty and opportunity and in the irrepressible American spirit. And I believe that each of us must be as vigilant and protective of the rights of equality and opportunity of our fellow Americans as we are of our own, and honor our obligations to our nation and future generations of Americans.
Nearly all of us have an ideal of what America ought to be. My ideal was shaped by elementary school teachers who taught us that George Washington didn't lie and took responsibility for his actions. An ideal framed in the classroom by portraits of presidents on the wall, looking down on us from their lofty perches in history. Biographies of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. And Benjamin Franklin. Stories about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Frank and Joe Hardy. An ideal shaped by Fourth of July parades in my small hometown of Rupert, Idaho. An ideal passed on by a high school teacher, Elizabeth Toolson, who made me believe, as did she, that a poor boy born in Texas and raised in Idaho could go to Harvard. At Harvard, Professors Oscar Handlin and Frank Freidel taught me how powerful ideas and working people built the country, and saved it more than a few times.
My ideal of America was also shaped by the Vietnam War, and by the protests against it. The struggle for civil rights and the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. The Apollo project and Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon. The OPEC oil crises and the Persian Gulf War. The stock market crash of 1987 and the greatest bull market in Wall Street history. Presidential impeachment and the collapse of the Soviet Union. More than thirty years in journalism have revealed the best and the worst of us, the base and the uplifting, the ordinary and the spectacular, the cruel and the truly good, including all that this country can accomplish and all that it is capable of becoming.
After the tragedy of September 11, the corporate corruption scandals, and now the war in Iraq, I cannot imagine most Americans are content to allow our elites to continue to further debase the ideals of our nation and determine our course into the future. Both of our major political parties have become little more than well- funded marketing organizations, advertising brands that the corporate and special- interest elites manage for their own benefits, with almost no regard for the common good and the national interest. We have much to overcome, and much to do. That's why I'm an in de pen dent and a populist. I no longer believe the Republican and Democratic parties are capable of serving the people: Their priorities and focus are the special interests and corporatists who fund them, and now direct them and the rest of us. The consent of the governed is the foundation of our government and its endurance over the past two hundred years. If the American people are to prevail against the challenges of the next two hundred years, we must end our apathetic and uninformed acquiescence to elitist unrepresentative governance and demand that our political leaders respectfully seek our consent rather than take for granted our submission.
I believe that only the energized, active engagement and participation of our citizens at every level of politics and government will change our national direction. We will succeed if the vast majority of us can reject partisanship and end what are nothing more than brand loyalties to the Democratic and Republican parties, and replace those partisan brands with a passionate commitment to our ideals of in dependence and equality, to the common good and the national interest. Populism requires no political apparatus, no party machine. Populism as a philosophy and movement requires only that we put our people and our national interest first, that we honor our Constitution and nation, and that we respect one another's rights of individual liberty and equality of opportunity. Populism requires that we Americans be neither timid nor retiring in asserting our rights and the equal rights of our fellow Americans, and that we prize our American heritage of self-reliance and compassion and our independence as a people and a nation. I truly believe all of us should live every day as Independence Day.
We must make this our day, the day of the independent American.
Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from INDEPENDENTS DAY by Lou Dobbs. Copyright © Lou Dobbs, 2007