Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Summer of Discontent

It’s been quite a summer. The BP oil spill, the pending confirmation of Elena Kagan, falling poll numbers for the president…. The approval rating of politicians in this country has plummeted. Most people, when asked, think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Why is this, and can anything be done? I believe there are 3 major problems in the country today.

First of all, for all its claims to the contrary, America has ceased in some important ways to be a democracy. What the public wants, they usually don’t get. The founding fathers wanted to temper democracy and keep us from the tyranny of the majority. Many Americans are racist: consider the approval of Arizona’s SB1070, the “show me your papers” law, which has been put on hold. Most Californians voted against gay marriage, due in no small part to the lies put forth by Mormons, Catholics, and fundamentalist Christians. And yet, the majority of Americans voted for Barack Obama. We want change, and many, maybe most, don’t believe we’ve gotten it. The entrenched powers of corporations are strong in this country. When you explain to people what single payer health care actually is, they want it. Yet Medicare for all was taken off the table. In some ways, “health care reform” has been a gift to the insurance industry. Campaign finance reform has been outlawed by a right wing supreme court, and now, corporations are actually “persons” and can spend limitless amounts on the candidate of their choice without disclosing their contributions. This isn’t the “change” people signed up for.

Second is the problem of economic disparity. The top 1% of the population is getting fabulously wealthy, due in no small part to the Bush tax cuts. When the Republicans take back the House, which they will, they will probably be able to pass an extension of these tax cuts. The wages of the poor and middle class are basically stagnant. America is the only industrialized nation with this disparity of wealth. The last time there was such a gap between rich and poor was in 1929, according to Robert Reich. We know how that ended.

The third and greatest problem the country faces is imperialism. It’s time to cease calling America a “super-power” and call it what it is: an empire. As in Rome, when a country becomes an empire democracy ends. Our infrastructure and schools are crumbling, but we are fighting 2 useless wars overseas, and we have over 750 military bases all over the world. The only product America manufactures is weapons. Any war being fought anywhere in the world is being fought with guns and bombs made in America. It is our only expertise--- the other jobs have been outsourced.

Imperialism, lack of democracy and economic disparity suit our corporate overlords. Profits are up up up. Fox News and the teabaggers are successful in pitting Americans against each other: it’s the classic divide and conquer approach. Whites are pitted against African Americans, immigrants are the great bugaboo. Why let people discuss actual issues, when you can make them hate each other? It’s a simple strategy, and it usually always works.

I believe the President Obama is a good man, and has integrity. I think he has been powerless in the face of the corporations and their extremely wealthy shareholders. He has worked for change, but it has not been possible. Meanwhile, he has been constantly undermined by racism, and strange questions about his birthplace and other such nonsense. He hasn’t tried to eliminate the empire and bring back democracy. Maybe it can’t be done.

1 comment: