Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Degrading of America

America, 2015: still the greatest nation the world has ever known?

I have a problem with America. It's odd because I had a problem with America in 1967, too. The year before, I was a 17-year-old going off to college touting the party line -- "Vietnam is the cost of fighting communism, a tough job but somebody's got to do it" -- and by the next June I was solidly against the war, as were most of the San Francisco Bay Area college students around me.

Those of us who lived through those years of cultural upheaval spent the next ten years in an alternate USA, as we fought against wars, "pigs," and The Establishment. I was so dead-set against becoming "the man" that I forewent law school and became a musician instead.

And like a lot of counter-cultural warriors, I eventually found my way back into the mainstream and settled into a semblance of a middle-class life. I remain profoundly changed by those early years, but it cannot be stated loudly enough that I was always and still am an American, in spite of those ubiquitous "America: Love It or Leave It" bumper stickers that conservatives sported to relay their contempt for those against the war.

Born a couple years after the end of World War II, I was witness to the great growth and development of the world's greatest middle class, and my family was a classic example. I came out of a highly educated household that built itself up through education without the help of an affluent background. I watched my mother and father build a decent life driven by ordinary American energy and ordinary imaginations. We were supposed to get educated, find good jobs, buy a decent house, and settle down into a life of decency and normalcy. We were given opportunity and were expected to do well by it. And in spite of my counter-cultural detour, I essentially did just that.

I may have taken a more entrepreneurial path to build my American life, but so have many. I don't think that explains or underwrites my current views of America, except that my disappointment in the current state of America isn't based on an obsession that "America sucks hard" but rather based on how much I believed in the American model. I lived the development of that American model, so as that typical or atypical baby boomer who didn't squander the legacy of the "Greatest Generation" but rather build a decent, respectable life, I am perfectly positioned to critique the America that I find today.

I take no joy in witnessing a widespread degrading of the country I came to identify with so completely. I'm terrifically pained by what I see happening.

I've laid the foundation of an extended discussion on the state of America, and I'll break here and finish over a series of posts. But I'll preview it just a bit: Yes, I'm going to make the claim that what has driven the degradation of America has been, so far, a rather successful conservative movement that has crafted a popular narrative, which is a smokescreen for a set of goals that favor the rich and powerful at the expense of the rubes who are somehow convinced that the pols they put into office have their best interests at heart.

That conservative narrative isn't true, and we're beginning to see how the actual policy goals touted by conservatives have been slowly and methodically undermining the very country and people they purport to love. It's shocking and disgusting.

A final point: It's often repeated that we get the government we want, but that's a lie. We get the government we're deceived into believing we want. That our government is not what we think it is or not doing what we think we asked them to do is the great crime of our time. Let's look at it over the next several posts.

Note. From my point of view, it's clear the liberal-progressive side of the political spectrum has had no choice but to ally itself with the Democratic Party, in spite of the fact that the Dems are only marginally more in favor of policy prescriptions progressive prefer. But I'll take the protection of the social safety net that the Dems marginally stand for over the Armageddon that conservatives seem almost preternaturally obsessed with ushering in.

No hyperbole there, by the way.

These people just need to buck up and take personal responsibility.

1 comment:

  1. Just realize you never learned a thing. You got the education you deserve.