We have become a nation almost completely unmoored from its founding principles. We have become a people that has for too long sought solutions for our problems in the pockets of others. We fear the power of the one solution that once made and may again make us exceptional — our own selves left alone to pursue our happiness. Where once we embraced the concept that we rise or fall on our own merits, we instead brandish a self-serving license to blame others.
We have become a nation that operates under one tragic contradiction: We simultaneously fear and rely upon the one institution that has the sanctioned ability to take away everything from us — our livelihoods, our property, our very lives — and yet we gave it that sanction.
As a result, we have allowed our democracy become so corrupted by these powers, that we have turned to authoritarian ideas as a solution, thinking that this will only affect “them”, not us. Our contradictions and hypocrisies have made us easy prey to those who work in collusion with our rulers to keep us confused and angry. We play right into their hands.
I suppose it has become cliché to peg our country’s decline on this or that, but we have just elected a president that two-thirds of the country does not trust. How does that happen? How does it happen that we look for leaders among our lowest common denominators rather than our best and brightest? We have just elected a man that represents everything I fear: Power, privilege, and ignorance. The trifecta of decline.
It happens because we forget, and because we seek the easy solution that starts with abandoning our own responsibilities. We don’t believe that we rise and fall on our own merits, and the resulting discourse has become a cacophony of finger-pointing. How, we ask ourselves, can we make our government force the other guy do the right thing?
Until we wake up, open our eyes, and see the real reasons for our failures, it will get worse. We can bitch and moan all we want about corporations, rich people, Mexicans, and whatever, but at the end of the day, it’s just us in that voting booth. We should use that vote as an affirmation of our principles rather than a weapon against someone else’s.
Every time I think this country has turned a corner and corrected itself, I find myself profoundly disappointed. I have considered myself an informed and principled citizen for my entire life. I resisted becoming saddled with pessimism, but I know as a student of history, when your society begins to reject reason and intellect, only tragic outcomes result.
The best years of my life lay behind me, so I look at my daughter, and all I can do when she asks “why” is shrug my shoulders. “Sorry, kid. I tried.”