How many times have you turned on the TV, your favorite news website, or opened a newspaper and seen a story about “the people who are destroying America”?
If you’re a hardened Democrat, you’re probably used to hearing about “the War on Women” and how social conservatives are tearing at the fabric of our freedom. And if you’re a Republican, well, you’re probably used to hearing about how everyone who isn’t a white male is chipping away at your precious Constitution. But for this, my final story for this paper, I am going to tell you once and for all who is destroying America.
You are destroying America.
You are destroying America because you accept what your favorite news source says at face value. You don’t research the facts behind the story, or check a different news source to make sure it’s accurate. You don’t correct your friends or your family when they go on a political rant based on false data. You don’t engage. You accept.
And you don’t get mad. You don’t get mad when statistics come out showing that America lags behind virtually every other developed nation in categories like health care, education, poverty, and crime. You don’t get mad when a psychopath shoots 20 kids in the head, one by one, execution style, because advertisements and corrupt politicians have convinced you that even the most basic gun legislation is an assault on your freedoms. You don’t get mad when the same people running Wall Street banks write laws that allow them to exploit the market, get away with causing a global financial crisis without criminal charges or repercussions, and then raise their own bonuses.
You don’t get mad when a president who ran on change implements the same anti-terror and anti-drug policies his predecessor had, then instead of drawing them down, he accelerates them. You don’t get mad that the official anti-terror policy of the United States involves murder without trial, even when it includes killing American citizens. You don’t get mad when prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are held for a decade without legal recourse or proof of guilt, even when half of them are starving due to a desperate hunger strike. You don’t get mad when you hear that we have a higher proportion of our population wasting away in our jails than any other country in the world. You don’t get mad when ExxonMobil spills oil all over Arkansas with impunity because the local government accepts their request for a no-fly-zone and a press blackout of the affected area.
And the reason I know you don’t get mad is because every year, you go out and you vote for the same people, with the same party platforms, funded by the same lobby groups and corporate interests. You refuse to question why there isn’t a third party, or why liberal Democrats have no real representation anymore apart from a handful of congressmen, or why moderate Republicans are hounded out of their party by Bible-thumping zealots.
I want you to get mad. I know I am. I look at America today and I see a nation overcome by selfish greed. I see a nation where corporate interests literally write their own laws, where social mobility, employment, the social safety net, and worker’s rights are suffering. I see a country where poor people are born into poor areas, raised poor, barely able to live on wages that are virtually the same as what was considered low in the 1980s. I see injustice on an institutional scale, as our laws are twisted to exclude those who pose a risk to the established order. And I see people use the constitution as a battering-ram to take away freedom from entire swathes of our population.
This isn’t where we should be. The ideas that are at the core of our country are strong. The strength of America comes from the people of America. Not from a few elites, but from the hard work and ingenuity of common, ordinary men and women. If we pull together, educate ourselves, and engage with our system, we can take it back.
It’s been a pleasure. Maybe we’ll talk again sometime.