Tuesday, September 22, 2009

can america be salvaged?

CommonDreams | I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which proposing a new and better version of corporate-plunder masquerading as national healthcare gets you burned in effigy for being a socialist stooge by gun-toting angry mobs.

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which the same people who hate you for being a socialist simultaneously hate you for being a fascist.

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which angry mobs of supposed anti-socialist demonstrators scream at their congressional representatives to "keep your government hands off my Medicare".

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which claims that the government is going to start killing off seniors are taken seriously by tens of millions of people.

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which people are all worked up about government czars, but sat silently while the Bush administration destroyed the Bill of Rights and used a thousand signing statements to write Congress out of the Constitution.

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which deficits have all of a sudden become the source of enormous anger among people who said nothing about them previously, as the tax cuts for the wealthy, off-budget wars based on lies, and unfunded prescription drug Big Pharma giveaway transmogrified the biggest surplus in American history into the biggest deficit ever.

I really don't know what to say anymore, about a country in which politicians can rant incessantly about other peoples' sexual morality, get caught screwing prostitutes, and then still be reelected to the highest ranks of government by trashing the president.

I could go on and on, but what would be the point? The positions of so many Americans on so many policy questions are truly inane - yes, for sure. I wish that was all that concerned me. But it all goes so much deeper than that.

The entire premise of a self-ruling democracy rests on some reasonable degree of rationality and some reasonable degree of an ability to discriminate between real information and falsehoods. Today's American democracy seems to lack these qualities in increasingly abundant amounts.

And yet it goes deeper than that still. The entire premise of a society - any society, democracy or not - is that it possesses a certain degree of shared community, a ‘we-ness' that transcends narrower tribalisms and self-interest in critical ways and at critical moments. That too has unraveled of late. Think of the nice white men with shotguns blocking the exit from flooded New Orleans during the worst moments of Hurricane Katrina.

Looking at America today, it all feels so very past tense to me.