"Our commitment to liberty is America's tradition — declared at our founding, affirmed in Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms..."
Ten years ago, George W. Bush spoke those words, in front of a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished." Two and a half years later Iraq approved a proper democratic constitution. For six additional years, our forces fought valiantly to secure that charter. In reviewing the successes and failures, the question comes to mind; if these enumerated rights were worth fighting for on foreign soil, don't they deserve at least an honest effort from our federal and state governments here at home.
Take for an instance a declaration made by the Iraqi constitution: "Every citizen has the right to health care." While emergency care is generally available to those who have no choice, for the 43% of our working age population who ended up forgoing care last year because of cost, the dire potential consequences on the one hand were outweighed by economic peril on the other.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the constitution of Iraq declares that "The State shall guarantee to the individual and the family - especially children and women – social and health security, the basic requirements for living, a free and decent life, and shall secure for them suitable income and appropriate housing." It must seem ironic to Americans left unemployed even as our markets attain record highs, as well as those still displaced by Super-storm Sandy and by the subsequent insurgency in congress to delay the reconstruction effort.
We are closer to meeting the challenge that "Education is a fundamental factor for the progress of society and is a right guaranteed by the state" though our more sectarian states are increasingly funneling tax dollars to schools that teach mythology and superstition in place of science. And in those backward parts of our country where students face the prospect of being beaten with a wooden plank by school officials, they may be comforted that the Iraqi constitution declares "All forms of violence and abuse in the family, school, and society shall be prohibited."
And if we feel helpless that our theaters and schools are riddled with lead, our air and water assailed by toxic agents, and residences torn to bits by industrial explosions, our patriotism may yet be stirred, for due to the power of our government, the constitution of Iraq guarantees that "Every individual has the right to live in safe environmental conditions."