As I was growing up, I believed the United States was the best country on the planet. Boundless opportunities awaited anyone not afraid of hard work, and justice always prevailed thanks to our sacred Constitution. As the generous benefactor of less prosperous nations and a beacon of excellence for the entire world to emulate, we were the bearers of light and hope to the entire world.
Being born in the USA was akin to hitting the reincarnation lottery. You, the average American citizen, are envied by all. Freedom! Democracy!
That’s what I believed because that’s what I was taught by every adult in my life. Why wouldn’t I believe it? Hell, why wouldn’t they believe it? It’s all they’d been fed their entire lives too. American awesomeness was merely the natural order of things. You didn’t have to question it, you just knew it, and accepted it.
God was in Heaven, and Heaven was called America.
And all was well.
Until at some point in your life (if you’re paying attention at all) the truth hits you as violently as an anvil on Wile. E. Coyote’s head in a Roadrunner cartoon.
You may already have known the whole system was an elaborate lie since you were a kid. I’m in that camp myself. Reading voraciously and idolizing John Lennon had me radicalized by fifteen. Many others share similar experiences of the truth starting to gradually dawn on them.
But then there is that precise moment when some giant, hideous truth bomb bitch slaps you, and you’re never the same again. No preamble, no advance warning.
In a split second, you realize everything you ever knew is wrong. As the proverbial glowing light bulb hovers over your head, you see right through the window dressing and propaganda to the face of the beast.
It could have been Vietnam, Watergate, Iran Contra, 9/11, Iraq, Standing Rock, Pussy Grabbing — whatever. There are as many catalysts as there are disillusioned people, and then some. What’s happening here is the domino effect of one great truth opening the floodgates, and all the pieces suddenly falling into place.
It goes something like this:
Americans haven’t been this divided philosophically since the Civil War. This level of economic disparity hasn’t occurred since the Gilded Age. Everything we see, hear, and experience bears the mark of our decline.
We are not the greatest country in the world in the 21st century. We are a mouth-breathing, universally despised global bully. Bringing freedom and democracy is code for invading innocent countries for their resources. Everyone seems to know that but us.
But what can you expect from a nation that doesn’t even take care of its own? Millions die as a direct result of poverty so a handful of oligarchs can lead lives of unimaginable luxury. We don’t even want to keep our people healthy or educate our kids adequately. COVID-19 has driven this point home a hundred-fold.
You can’t even get ahead by being smart and driven anymore. If you’re among the lucky few who manage to attend college, all you have to look forward to is an insultingly low paying job that won’t even put a dent in all those student loans.
This is what we’re expected to be proud of and swear undying allegiance to? Are we supposed to mindlessly embrace the false narrative of what America was and is?
Because this is not the greatest country in the world by any objective reckoning. In fact, it’s not even a great country at all, or even a good one, no matter what we’ve been indoctrinated to believe.
And people are really pissed off. Mainly at each other. There is very little common ground to build on, and even less desire to find any.
Nevertheless, both the Right and the Left have appointed themselves the Sacred Guardians of American Democracy, although both steadfastly refuse to walk the walk if it means offending their corporate donors. Here’s an easy way to remember what offends the donors — if it’s in the best interest of the people and not the oligarchy it’s a no-go.
Equally unfortunate is the fact that no single group or organization is up to the task of assuming the savior role anyway. Any bold plans or fresh ideas are greeted with vitriol and a crippling case of “whataboutism.”
Kids are dying in a house fire, but let’s fight about who lit the match. This, in a nutshell, is why partisan politics is evil.
As we are seeing firsthand YET AGAIN, partisan pandering is completely counterproductive. The ignorance and polarization resulting from no-questions-asked party loyalty is a massive stumbling block to change. One look at 2020’s presidential ballot is proof of that.
See, the problem with knee-jerk partisanship is that you’re not dedicated to the truth; you’re dedicated to a team. You are not looking out for the best interests of your country; you’re just looking out for your club.
Life, and politics, are not a movie western standoff where the moral fiber of the combatants is clearly delineated by their black or white hats. Too many Americans believe an R for Republican or D for Democrat after your name is a political black or white hat that showcases your (highly-subjective) virtue.
And people are really pissed off. Mainly at each other. There is very little common ground to build on, and even less desire to find any. This renders the American people powerless, as our strength lies in numbers, not cash. Which is a rare bright spot because most of us don’t have cash anyway.
Until and unless we acknowledge that our “leaders” are every bit the aristocracy we rejected in 1776, we will remain on our fast-track trajectory towards complete collapse.