Stranger in a Strange Land


2013/06/21 by seanmiller12

This is not the America of my youth. Of course it isn’t. I am no longer a youth. It is no longer the country where people feel they have an obligation to have a moral compass and to elect legislators who will do the right thing. It is no longer a country where people reach higher and higher, to achieve greater understanding, where a cab driver might speak, intelligently, with a neurosurgeon, a country with a respectable literacy rate, even among the poor and disenfranchised. Instead, we are a people concerned only with passing tests, and of getting pieces of paper, which tell the world how intelligent we are.

America is no longer a country of common sense, a country rooted in values, where pride in achievement equilibrates pride in a hard day’s work. Cheap, fast, and easy have replaced “Made in the United States”. Instead, Americans strive for bling, for transient goals which fade almost immediately. Americans are no longer citizens. We are “consumers”, and consume we do; more than any other people on this fragile planet. It is a country where people follow, mindlessly, whatever the cause du jour might be, where people surrender their opinions to the ‘talking heads’, and blindly, like lemmings, just follow; going along, to get along. Thomas Merton was a hero, in his day. Now, he would be a traitor, a failure, a worthless idiot, in a world of big box churches with mind-numbing pontifications made on Sunday mornings by church leaders who have never seen the inside of a seminary.

The generation which fought the Nazis, which struggled and sacrificed to keep the world safe from insidious evil, faded away and was eventually replaced by a generation which embraces that exact evil. This was, in part, because our government, after World War II, imported a variety of Nazi war criminals to assist in running our intelligence services and aerospace programs, snatching them up, before the Soviets could. Instead of standing trial at Nuremberg, these criminals were given new lives in the cushy upper middle class. The fascism of Charles and David Koch, the intolerance and hatred of their John Birch Society, would have made Goebbels and Hitler proud. So would their world view and goal of global dominance. Exclusivity in religion, aligned with mindless nationalism, has replaced spirituality, love, and charity. Rather than resisting the onslaught of the Koch Brothers and their ilk, rather than fighting against hellishly immoral wars which make the Vietnam War seem like a mild Asian vacation, Americans now merely shrug, and express that this is just how it is, or deny that anything is even happening. “That can’t happen, here!” Bread and circuses have been replaced by Bud Lite and American Idol.

Richard Nixon began the trend. His amorality, his egocentricity, his evil determined a new course for the American People. Spying and destroying opposition became the accepted norms. War became a means of profit. Jimmy Carter tried unsuccessfully to repair what Nixon had achieved, only to be circumvented by the covert machinations of Ronald Reagan’s handlers. Any sense of charity and benevolence evaporated during Reagan’s reign. Our Central American policy in the Reagan years speaks volumes. Vicious dictatorial governments, which murdered their own citizens repeatedly, were underwritten by the Reagan administration under the guise of “fighting communism”, while profit making was the real motive. Reagan was a willing shill for the military industrialist complex. Prior to Reagan’s governorship of the State of California, an undergraduate could achieve a baccalaureate degree for a pittance. Now, a college education is out of reach for all but the wealthy. The term, “welfare queen” came from Ronald Reagan, as did a fundamental mistrust of government. Polarizing the People, separating them from government, made the People pawns, rather than a determining force. This, of course, was not unintentional. Neither was the term, “welfare queen”, the demonizing of the single mother. This was a reality which needed to be disenfranchised and squelched before it became a viable social force. “Welfare queens” are women, mothers, who are dependent upon the state’s benevolence, in order to feed and provide for their children. If the State is synonymous with the People, as implied by the U.S. Constitution, then, Reagan was effective in destroying any sense of benevolence in the American People. We are, now, thanks to Ronald Reagan, a people devoid of compassion, who declare, “Greed is good!”

Clinton furthered Reagan’s policies. NAFTA, for example, may have occurred under Clinton,  but it was under Reagan, that it had its genesis. NAFTA promulgated unsanitary life in Mexico and Central America, wrought havoc on their economies, and destroyed the union movement in the United States. In short, Ronald Reagan is personally responsible for enslaving the people of Mexico and Central America, and the destruction of the American Middle Class. Bill Clinton facilitated it. Perhaps Reagan’s finest gift was the concept of “free trade”, a denial of the tariff system, put in place by Alexander Hamilton, which worked well for two hundred years, the absence of which plunged this nation into near depression. Near depression, that is, except for the fabled one percent, who, because they control the corporations which benefit from alleged “free trade”, benefited, themselves, by the elimination of the very concept which fostered prosperity for the People.

Little Georgie, George Jr., or as he has also been called, “Shrub”, put Reagan’s policies on steroids. He gets the blame, but it was his vice president who actually ran the country, with a cabal formed by certain of Bush’s cabinet members. Now, we are winding down two illegal wars, with trillions of dollars wasted, dollars borrowed from Red China, an education system based, not on knowledge and attainment, rather, on test scores, and a society with a medieval form of healthcare. America has fallen behind, even, ‘third world’ nations.

Our present president has proven himself to be a slave of Wall Street, full of promises for “Hope” and “universal healthcare”, “repairing the infrastructure”, and “closing GITMO”, while he writes blank checks to his friends and supporters, the Wall Street Bankers, expounds rhetorically, and does little else. Obama seems to have won his Nobel Prize for oratory. Under Obama’s watch, we have achieved a surveillance system which would make Richard Nixon proud, an infrastructure which would make Dwight D. Eisenhower vomit, and a healthcare system which would make Reagan a very happy man, because it continues to reap profits for the rich; the investor class, Big Pharma, and the AMA. We have, in effect, another Rethuglican in the White House.

The course we, as Americans, take is dependent upon how successful the robber barons have been in enslaving the People with ignorance. Once, we had the finest public education system in the world. That has been decimated, first, by Nixon, then by Reagan, and further crippled with mindless testing, merely to profit the Bush family, which owns the companies, who write the tests. The Bush family also controls the printing and rewriting of textbooks, all done in Texas. The ludicrousness of this situation can be seen in high school American History texts, which have replaced brief bios of personages like Washington and Jefferson, and other ‘founding fathers’, with the likes of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. In like fashion, infotainment must be abandoned and we must return to real news reporting, in the mold of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. Until then, televisions must remain off.

Americans must no longer dive into the pit of complacency. Those in Congress, who would support and nurture the People, themselves, need to be supported by the People, and not merely with money. However, before that will happen, Americans must make a paradigm shift away from the greedy, self centered ignoramuses they have become. Americans must have the strength to turn the T.V. off. We must look inward and discover the mores which we once held as sacred, that all men are created equal, and that the rich are not better, merely because they are rich. Americans must turn away from the racist, homophobic people we have become. We must demand an end to perpetual war, a clearly Orwellian concept, which serves not only to profit the investor class, the Carlyle Group, and the oil companies; it creates fear and blind obedience in the American People.  Demand an end to endless surveillance. Demand the passage of stringent privacy laws. The Germans did, in answer to the Gestapo and the Stasi. Why can’t Americans? Must we learn, first hand, as did Germany and most of Europe, the evils of totalitarianism?

America, once a land of idealistic, hard working people, who prided themselves on individualism and creativity, has become, over time, a nation of sheep. Rosie the riveter has retired to her rocking chair. We the People have allowed this to happen. We tolerate legislators who put themselves before us. We turn our gaze away from corruption. Government is seen not as the servant of the People, but as the master, and one not to be trusted. It has evolved into only a means of becoming insanely wealthy and powerful, the direct opposite of its declared raison d’être. Cynicism has replaced idealism. Our belief structure is limited to the parroting of superficial driveling of half educated religious mouthpieces in big box, non denominational churches, and regurgitation of half truths fomented by ‘talking heads’. We, as individuals, refuse to think. Take back our education system. Reject ignorance and complacency. Demand an end to mass surveillance and perpetual war. Discard intolerance and racism. Become America, again.



2 thoughts on “Stranger in a Strange Land

  1. A very well written, if somewhat pessimistic polemic. I share your hope that America can eventually pull itself out of the “pit of complacency” that you describe. And not just America – I am a British citizen with an American wife, and I see the problems afflicting your country afflicting mine almost in parallel.

    At some point, though, we need to pivot from despairing at the state of decay and turn toward finding solutions. Raising awareness through advocacy and blogging is a start, but from my own experience I am starting to feel the need to do more.

    Keep blogging. You write well and have some great insights.

    • seanmiller12 says:

      Thank you. I am afraid that, indeed, this was a bit pessimistic. However it is in answer to the endemic denial and ignorance I am witnessing in the United States. Very, very few Americans have tasted reality. While British subjects endured the blitz, Americans were lounging about the swimming pool. We have not known war, since 1865, and it shows. I intended this as a wake up call. I have no foolish beliefs that it was, in any way, successful.

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