American Change (Outside of the Box of Media)

Inevitability: this is the crushing weapon that the Republican party so effectively wields, bludgeoning the American public with such a banality of lies, misinformation, and bluntness of political manipulation—all oriented around sidestepping deeper issues of actual policy—that people talk wearily of the inevitability of McCain being elected president. Here are the arguments for this position:

The American vote is skewed towards the middle American states, where most Americans are so brainwashed that they would vote for a melon if they thought it stood for fundamentalist Christian values and gun rights.

Americans are simply stupid in general.

George W. Bush was elected for 2 terms. Enough said. Americans are hopeless.

These are perhaps convincing arguments if you tend towards fatalism. However, it disregards and slanders the majority of the American people. Yes, many Americans are extremely misinformed and formulate their political ideas based on petty and irrelevant issues. Yes, the vote is heavily skewed towards Americans who think red meat, rifles, and religion are the defining issues of our day. However, these Americans, known colloquially as rednecks, are the ones most affected by bad policy in Washington. They will be the ones losing the most jobs, they will be the ones most affected by environmental degradation, they will be the ones continuing to have their working wages taxed by a government they distrust and loathe.

Were they fooled by W. Bush? To a certain extent. But they understood, more fundamentally, that he stood for status quo. He would give us exactly what they thought America stood for: individualism, small government, and big business. Now McCain is playing the status quo card once again, while pretending to give just enough of a hip “maverick”-ness to the situation to win over those on the fence.

Many Americans, while the economy was still apparently riding high, didn’t want change. They called for status quo. They called for continuing to do just what America had been doing. It seemed to work, sort of.

Now it’s not working. It’s failing terribly. And the prospect before us is harrowing. Even while official analysts shrug and dismiss the current economic downfall and refuse to call it a recession, Americans who are most affected by the downturn know exactly what it is: hard times. Unemployment is high, the divide between rich and poor is untenable, health care consists of ER visits, basic food item costs are increasing, and SUVs no longer make much sense to working folk who can’t pay off their mortgages or credit card bills.

This has not much to do with failed foreign policy that has led to neverending warfare, or a regressive position against contemporary science. It doesn’t even have to do with the impending and disastrous consequences of climate change, nor with the depletion of topsoils and overall degradation of our earth.

It has to do with a fundamental flaw in the American conception of what has been working in the past, and what will work in the future.

We fought ferociously against the concepts and institutions of communism and socialism, and we relished the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union. It was the triumph of capitalism. It was the triumph of individual choice, freedom of markets, competition between all for the benefit of the common good.

We’ve been so knee-jerk allergic to ideas of government involvement in economics that we’ve failed (officially) to recognize that the times have changed. A little dose of government intervention is necessary in times of crisis. And therefore, the Democratic vision of politics is no longer quite as unsavory as it once was. The idea of “change” (in the sense of a non-Republican dominated government) has begun to make sense. The status quo is driving America to its knees before the world. The dollar is falling, our imperialist foreign policies are antiquated, and our fierce individualism is costing the entire world the possibility of dealing effectively with united stances against climate change.

I don’t think Americans are as stupid as the media and the Republican party assumes it is. I think that the majority of Americans simply allow themselves to be led when they see no reason to change the way things are, when it seems to benefit them. It is becoming quite apparent that change—real change—must occur for America to remain a viable force in our world. Our businesses will fail if they cannot innovate. They cannot innovate if the government does not provide incentives for them to innovate. The government cannot provide incentives if the people do not call for policy change.

The time has come for Americans to unite, truly unite, not in the sense of warfare, not in the sense of blind following of political deceit and big money, not in the sense of willful ignorance and bigoted small-mindedness. Americans will unite because the only path to a hopeful future is clear. And it is not the status quo.


Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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