You could make a list: the Declaration of Independence and most of the Bill of Rights; the electric light bulb and the Model T; the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Marshall Plan; Citizen Kane and “Good Vibrations”. The Apollo program. The personal computer and the Internet. Where would bloggers be without those?
We Americans have done some very good things. No doubt we’ll do many more, considering that there are almost 320 million of us now.
Still, the first entry on this blog, back in July 2012, was “Insanity”. I wrote it a few days after the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado (12 dead, 58 wounded). Since then, according to the statistics, my most frequent topics have been “America” and “Republicans”. Insanity has been a continuing theme.
It strikes me now that I might as well stop writing about how screwed up this country is. It’s like beating a dead prisoner.
Too often, we’ve been brutal and greedy, fearful and stupid.
And it isn’t that we’ve simply had bad leaders now and then. Many of us have been in favor of slavery and genocide and showing those foreign bastards who’s boss. Today, an amazing number of Americans think racist cops are heroes, torture is justified, global warming is a hoax and the Rapture is coming any day now. For crying out loud, in 2004, a majority of American voters decided to give Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld four more years!
Maybe reading about Ferguson, “I can’t breathe”, the lowest turnout in 72 years, Boehner and McConnell, the CIA, the rapacious rich and the incessant shrinking of the middle class have merely put me in a temporary funk. But it’s hard to deny that there is something seriously wrong with America and many Americans.
Rather than filling this blog every day with the latest outrage, I could add a sentence or two to every post: “BTW, America is still screwed up and not getting better. Please vote and, if you call yourself a Christian, try acting like one”.
Or maybe I can focus on things we could do to make things better. In that spirit, here’s what Senator Bernie Sanders called for recently. He wants to make Election Day a national holiday, amend the constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, and institute public funding of political campaigns. But he knows that none of that will happen unless more of us vote:
For those of us who believe in a vibrant democracy with an engaged and well-informed electorate, we have a lot of work ahead. Sadly, in the year 2014, we must still convince the American people about the relevance of government to their lives.
We must convince young people that if they vote in large numbers, we can lower the 20% real unemployment they are experiencing with a major jobs program. We must convince students that if they participate in the political process, we can lower the outrageously high student debt they face. We must convince low-income workers that voting can raise the national minimum wage to a real living wage. We must convince seniors that not only can we prevent cuts to Social Security – we can expand the paltry benefits that so many are forced to live on. We must convince the millions of Americans who are deeply worried about climate change that political participation can transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy – and create millions of jobs.
Throughout American history, people have fought and died to protect our democracy and set an example for other nations. In these very difficult times, we cannot turn our backs on them.
Well, actually, we can. But if we choose not to, how do we go about convincing more people that it’s worth being part of a “well-informed and engaged electorate”, while convincing many of our fellow citizens to give up their benighted political, economic and social beliefs? I really don’t know.