It's really been quite demoralizing, reading and hearing and seeing so much activity, so much rhetoric, so much strange thinking from what we call "the right." I find it hard to watch the news, to read the stories online, to listen to the radio and be reminded over and over that there are some people out to "remake" America into some twisted ideal that they seem to hold in their minds.
I can't call them conservatives, for these people are not about small government with responsible spending within means -- nor are they about respecting the privacy of citizens and leaving people to their own business. I can't call them Republicans, for there are many many Republicans just as disturbed by the present turn of events as I am. I can't call them red state people, because the people who voted red are not the ones cynically manipulating the press and hiding behind the darkest veils of secrecy in this country's modern age.
I've called them wingnuts, because they seem nuts to me, but that is perhaps rather rude. I've called them radicals, but that almost seems too kind. I've called them fascists, but I don't think that quite captures the scope of their dark vision of a "new world order."
What they do seem to be are people who truly hate America as it is right now. They mistrust the citizenry and oppose civil rights. They viciously oppose any restriction on their ability to manipulate the system to make more money for themselves and their own. They get almost rabidly vitriolic when they confront the reality of racial, ethnic, sexual and economic diversity in this country. They absolutely despise any and all programs designed to provide any sort of community safety net. They abhor notions of human rights in this world. They suppress any and all efforts and the liberation and empowerment of women, here and abroad. And they fear all the way down to their bones the Enlightenment, Reason and Science, and work with all their passion, energy and strength to destroy them to create a new vision of the world, starting right here in America.
Is there a label that captures that?
Who are these people? Why do they want to change America so much? Is America really that awful?
When I look at America, I see a great nation. The tone was set by George Washington, the man who would not be king, the man who retired after two terms and oversaw the first peaceful transfer of power. The tone was set in the Constitution of the United States of America, which codified a set of principles and rules that have allowed this country to see the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, voting rights, civil rights -- all tumultuous changes in the moral fabric of our society -- without bloody coup or government overthrow.
I see a country that embraced the freedom of people to speculate on their own futures and take risks, free of the threat of debtor's prison. I see a country that, in facing economic disaster, stood together, pooling resources so that all citizens stood together as a society, secure against the most dire costs risked with uncertainty.
I see a country that mobilized its entire economy and population to fight a war against nations that did not respect citizens' rights, built up frightening military machines, and dared to dictate to other nations how they should live. I see a nation that, after conquering dozens of nations militarily, proceeded not only to withdraw without claiming any sovereignty, but also gave blood and treasure to help those nations -- including the vanquished enemies -- rebuild from their ravages of war.
I see a country that, time and again, has faced its dark demons and changed its ways. I see a country that led the world in compassion and generosity, a country that, despite its overwhelming wealth and power, has been admired and respected all around the world.
I see a country that, when it was attacked viciously by religious fanatics, received the overwhelming sympathy and compassion and support of the entire world. Flowers in plazas and at embassies in all the capitals memorialized those killed in the attacks on America. Nations pledged their support and cooperation to help ensure that such a thing never would happen again.
And then the darkness came.
Now I see a group of people, rooted in wealth, entrenched in the corporatocracy, powerful in the government, with great influence on the media, doing everything it can to tear down these things that have made America great.
- They seem to flip the cart in front of the horse, claiming not that America is great because of the great things it does, but rather they claim that America is great, therefore it can do what it wants.
- They embrace and employ the use of torture, and consider human rights "quaint" and inconvenient.
- They quash free speech.
- They embrace "might makes right" as foreign policy doctrine.
- They ignore the importance of a strong economy.
- They treat the citizens of this country as the enemy.
- They work to tear apart the social programs that provide the modest safety net that exists.
- They seek to take away women's rights over their own bodies and their own lives.
- They endeavor to destroy public education.
- They make a crime not only what someone does, but what someone might do.
- They do whatever is necessary to disempower minority cultures and communities in matters of elections.
- ...and not just a few other things, too.
And if anyone speaks up against these and the many many other outrages they perpetrate on this great nation, that person is shouted down, labeled a traitor, sued, harrassed, silenced, arrested....
They want to "fix" America, as if all this time it's been a horrible travesty of immoral and impractical developments over the decades and centuries since its founding.
I certainly can see some things that could use some fixing in this country.
- Let's start with the pollution we're poisoning ourselves with.
- The mysterious and mostly secret food industry that is getting away with all it can.
- The paramilitary adventures upon which we've embarked in the name of political and corporate expediency (such as Honduras and Guatemala and other places in Central and South America).
- The ongoing widespread poverty and institutionalized neglect of the Americans who were here before the Europeans arrived.
- The richest healthcare system in the world that, nevertheless, cannot provide for 20% of the American population.
- The homelessness and poverty of children that persists through even the best of economic times.
- The decline in education and academic performance of our children that is taking us towards the bottom of the industrial world.
- The systematic destruction of population control programs around the globe.
- The infant mortality rate that is one of the worst of all industrialized nations.
- The neglected nuclear waste that will remain fatally radioactive for thousands of years.
- The inequality and inadequacy of our educational system that deprives millions of Americans a decent education, and deprives America of the fruits of their untapped talents.
- ...and not just a few other things, too.
Why ignore all these things, the real problems that real people face, and instead try to tear down the very things we were doing right, the very things that have made this country great?
Is it all about profit, at the expense of the rest of us? Is it all about power, and doing whatever it takes to hang onto it? Is it about some twisted idealistic vision of the world where faith dictates knowledge and reason is the enemy?
Am I just too much the peasant, too much the powerless, too much the rational person to appreciate this "new world order"?
Or do they really think that we won't notice? Do they think we're that stupid? Or is it really that we are that stupid?
Or has it always been like this, and I'm only noticing because there's nothing very good on TV this year? Is my "sin" simply paying attention?
I don't think I've ever been so depressed about the current state and future of my country. I don't think I've ever been so afraid for the world.