You know my grievances; you’ve heard me repeat them. You also realize that the list is more extensive than it was in my early years. Back then, we were already at odds but at least there was a respectful tone to our disagreements. For instance, I knew you were sore at me for not saying the “Pledge” or singing the “Star Spangled Banner” but you understood my reasons. I just couldn’t, and still won’t, mix bombs and God. All this was after Korea, followed by Nam and now Iraq and in between you’ve managed to neglect your parks and prairies, the infrastructure of your cities and the welfare of this very planet.
Instead of focusing on geothermal resources, you’ve kept your hold on carbon that conversely has destroyed our economic power, withered our influence abroad and eroded our hills and streams. The end result of all this is that I, and probably the majority of Americans, are exhausted, and even bewildered, because you’ve subverted and deflated everything we value.
I’m still haunted by what you allowed to happen to Dukakis in ’88 and enraged that vilification is not condemned and censored by the press. I’m just as angry and confrontational with any who dare to defend the right-wing propaganda spin that has been evolving before Nixon in the sixties. I’m equally disheartened when I encounter Americans willing to buy into it–the hatemongering, that is.
Clinton was a reprieve from the sophomoric language and ghastly actions of his predecessor–a true benefactor and deliverer of the party line. Given all the Clinton hoopla and hype, I was mildly satisfied during much of his two terms and then fully disappointed at the end.
Still, there was some progress being made. Americans weren’t yet throwing eggshells at one another, except for Republicans with their ugly protestations of duplicity. But this is where you and I, America, begin to split and see the world through two different sets of eyes. Our differences are deep and I’m both appalled and bewildered at the hateful politics emanating during the 90s from Washington and the uncivil attacks of Democrats and Republicans, Libertarians and Independents.
Truly, if I had been Rip Van Wrinkle and had fallen asleep after the McGovern debacle and then awakened to the Clinton witch hunt that only juveniles would find remotely amusing, I would have requested a continuation of my sleep until the rest of my countrymen and ladies regained their rightful, humane senses.
But they never did, did they America? Instead, they went on to elect a not-very-smart businessman from the wildcat state who, as governor, offered hints of what he would really do once he stepped out of the Texas chair and purloined the one in the White House. Obviously his disastrous environmental record and his privatization of the state’s jails never registered with the voting public in 2000. If these actions had, possibly a few more votes for Gore would have kept the Bush mob away from the presidency and placed the true winner in the Oval Office.
But no, America, you weren’t paying attention. You had plenty of hints and a case full of facts, but those you refused to ignore. Twelve years earlier George’s father made history by unloading 30,000 missiles on a country against whom he felt justified. Now along comes his son with a different reason for engaging your children in war. This time it’s even more ludicrous: they have weapons (which we all know is no reason to commit genocide, especially against the region’s most literate people). But this was a scenario that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld (and even Baker and Kissinger) knew Americans could understand. It was simple and straightforward: they had weapons and they were the bad guys. More importantly, they lacked democracy and that’s what we were going to deliver–America via privatization, deregulation, deep cuts in social programs and chaos–America, our way.
It’s actually interesting to note that that’s exactly what we did. The problem is that few understand the repercussions. They don’t realize that Iraq wasn’t a war, but a business opportunity. They don’t understand that Bush’s idea of government is not to govern but to allow corporatist elites to work hand-in-hand with your government and push forward their program of uninterrupted free markets and privatization.
It’s as if an entire country–no, an entire world–has learned to accept a new worldview that the job of governing is in the hands of the private sector and out of the government’s.
That may be the way it is, but for some of us true change (Is this the Obama change? It would be encouraging, though not realistic) needs to be reestablished permanently, and it begins with a few basic rules: follow the Constitution; abide by its laws and allow government to fulfill its obligations to its electorate.
The role of government is to govern. Within 7 years, this basic principle has been obliterated in the name of free markets. In other words, whatever is good for business is good for those who have seated themselves at the helm of authority. Whatever misfortunes the rest of us might endure regarding health benefits, job security, environmental protections, education and Social Security, are problems to be dealt with on our own.
I understand that many Americans feel that something has gone wrong, though can’t quite verbalize it. Their focus has been removed from domestic issues like infrastructure, global warming and renewable energies. They’ve been asked to close their eyes, shut their minds and to endure some basic hardships, such as higher gasoline prices, in order for this government to make everyone else’s life safer and yes, better. This is the government line; this is the spin. This is what too many here and abroad have been asked to believe–and some still do. My only question is why.
Why haven’t we, America, wanted more from a leader who should invest in us, and not his corporatist friends? Why haven’t we questioned and then made this entire group accountable for its selling off and its piecemealing of our governmental branches? Why have we permitted the Constitution to become besmirched? Why haven’t we held our representatives and senators accountable? Why haven’t we opened the book on enlightenment and asked more of ourselves?
When we start addressing these questions, when we put decency ahead of greed, when we restore our government back to its rightful role, then America, I’ll walk with my head up by your side. When we can halt the abuses abroad, when we can put democracy before hedonistic economics, then I’ll salute you–and this time mean it. When we can return to dignity and abandon the callous ways we treat our people and others outside our borders, I will then sit down with you, hat in hand.
But until that time, I’ll continue to watch over your shoulder, with both eyes wide open.
One of your citizens