Friday, September 30, 2022

A Nation Adrift

We've long known that America is adrift. I'm not sure about when it dawned on you or for that matter, most Americans, but for me the first indication that the proverbial "train was leaving the rails" was back in the mid 1970's and Jimmy Carter. Ole Jimmy was a likeable sort. He was elected as the "anti-candidate" or the "anti-insider" from Plains Georgia following a disastrous war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, the great betrayal that was Watergate, and the farce of Jerry Ford.

Of course, Carter was no better. In many ways he was worse. With Jimmy, we had a high inflation and unemployment, the OPEC oil embargo, gas shortages, high taxes, the Iranian hostage crisis and the grossly botched rescue attempt. America, it seemed, was trapped in kind of a malaise; a state of shock and exhaustion. Heck, we turned to disco and polyester suits for Pete's sakes. That's how bad it was!

We have witnessed our nation go from the heights of the "Greatest Generation" to the quagmire we see around us now, You can blame Trump, Biden, Obama, Hillary or fill in the blank. They aren't the cause. They are merely the misshapen symptoms of society.

We have transformed from a democratic or constitutional Republic into a Corporate Republic (better known as a neo-fascist Corporatocracy managed by an ultra rich oligarchy) which thrives on taxpayer money and tax exemptions.  Alternative solutions are routinely denounced, villainized, and ridiculed while "corporate socialism" is held up as the apex of capitalism.  

Laws are written by corporate lobbyists for the benefit of their corporate masters. The two political parties are literally bought and paid for by the same corporate paymasters. Thanks to Citizens United, they don't even pretend to hide it, except, perhaps, during election time, but even that's doubtful. It's all about lining pockets and giving voters the illusion of choice.

Partisan gerrymandering of districts all but assures indefinite partisan party control. Unlimited political terms play their part by ensuring special interests are not just protected,  but that the scam perpetuated on the public continues while both are rewarded at the public's expense. 

The media, which we could once count on for objectivity and honesty, is the defacto propaganda arm of the ruling political class. It manipulates our opinions, manufactures divisions and distractions to keep us from focusing on the real source of our troubles---the ruling elite.  It has been that way for decades now.

The internet was originally hailed as a way to bypass the myopic vision of a media controlled by the ruling elite by allowing a free flow exchange of information about what was really happening around the world, not just what the media wanted us to think was happening or why. It also held out the possibility that these ideas offered the prospect of new possibilities that would enable mankind to live better.

Such a promise as this frighten the ruling elites who saw this version of the internet as a threat to their vision of a benevolent authoritarianism they wanted us to accept as the only hope for Mankind.  The internet presented the possibility of making the global political class and emerging Corporatocracy obsolete.

At the very least, it made possible the exposure of their corruption, lies, greed, and opposition to democracy for all to see, and that must naturally not be allowed. Enter "community standards" and the "fact finder" who acts as gatekeeper and arbiter of what's acceptable and what's not.

Today, we joke about these arbiters of truth or being sent to a cyber "jail". We envision them as geeks out of "Revenge of the Nerds". Yet, is so far fetched as not to imagine something more sinister in the not too distant future should the neo-fascist Corporatocracy which has usurped our Republic continue to grow and tighten its grip unchecked? 

The internet is the greatest medium for the exchange of information the world has ever seen. It is said to contain the sum total of all human knowledge, and it's constantly ungraded every moment of every day. If there ever was the "Giant Brain" of science fiction lore, surely the internet is it. 

Thus, is any way the ruling elite would allow this to go unchecked given that they already control and manipulate nearly every aspect of our means of communication? Would they permit the unregulated exchange of ideas to freely take place without their direct control over the content?

Today, they shadow block, censor, ridicule, demonetize, twist, and delete what they perceive as threats to their control. Perhaps in the not too distant future, these "fact checkers" will serve as something akin to the "Thought Police" in Orwell's prophetic book "1984" where we are literally sent to "reeducation classes" or "disappeared" into the void of some cyber gulag where all our electronic connections---personal, financial and professional---are suspended or even deleted.

Imagine no form of electronic communication based on your "wrong think". No internet. No telephone. No way for you to connect with or by anyone.  No bank access, including the debt card you use to buy gas, food, or pay bills. No medical treatment or prescriptions refilled. Electronic deposits would be suspended (understand now what they're pushing for a cashless society?). No access to work done online since your ID wouldn't be accepted, etc.  In a increasingly electronically connected world, that's as good as a brick and steel prison.

Poll after poll reconfirm that our confidence in not just the political system is gone, but so too is our trust of the very institutions which serve as the foundation of this nation, especially the media.

According to a June 2022 Gallup Poll, 53% of those who responded said they had little or no trust in television reporting at all. 35% had only "some" faith in television reporting. That's a combined 88% of individuals who have little or no confidence in the truthfulness on television based reporting!

When it came to newspapers and the print media (which are both a rapidly dying medium), 46% had little or no faith in what was being reported. Another 37% had only "some" truth in what they were reading. But, again, that's a whopping 83% who just don't trust the print media. 

When it comes to partisanship, the distrust was across the board. For TV news, only 8% of Republicans trusted what they saw and heard. It's 8% for Independents and only 20% for Democrats. When we look at the newspapers and the print media, it's not much better. 5% of Republicans believed what they read compared to 12% of Independents and 35% of Democrats. In short, regardless of political ideology, the overwhelming majority of us know we're being lied to, which is actually a good thing.

America is a country adrift. Repeated polls upon polls have shown that we have no confidence in the political system or our institutions. Many of us try hard not to scoff loudly at political commercials or so-called "non-partisan" media endorsements just as we try to suppress our outrage for patriotic sounding wars overseas when we know they're simply for the benefit of the elites. We're tired of bleeding and dying for greater market shares.

Multiculturalism was originally based on the belief that individuals of differing cultures and religions were welcome to come to America where their culture and traditions would be added to the "melting pot" that was America in order to recreate a stronger and more vibrant nation.

But now multiculturalism has been corrupted into creating defacto enclaves within the U.S. which include traditions not compatible with the freedoms we value or even the democracy this country was based on. In many cases, they are encouraged to retain their own customs and languages with native born Americans expected to adapt to them!

Some come here with the expectation that they would be welcomed with open arms and given free housing, free medical care, and other taxpayer based assistance. They are told they didn't have to abide by our immigration laws; that if they could cross the border they would enter a world virtually paved with gold (sadly, it's been certain religious groups do the encouraging and even helping to circumvent laws and evade law enforcement).

At the same time, our education system has failed miserably. Children and young adults are no longer taught to be critical thinkers or encouraged to be self-sufficient and responsible adults. They are taught to believe in a grossly distorted version of America.

President John Kennedy asked us, at the beginning of the 1960's, "not to ask what America can do for you, but what can you do for America". He asked us to become a nation of servant leaders; to bear responsibility for making this a better America and better world for everyone. Somewhere along the way, that vision became corrupted.

Nowadays the youth and young adults shirk responsibility and demand entitlement. They are "offended" if someone disagrees with them. They refuse to hear ideas which might cause them to rethink ideas or shout down anyone who challenges their "Weltanschauung" or worldview, even if that means censoring free speech or expression. Again, shades of the "Thought Police" and conformity.

America, as a nation, cannot continue down this road. Many, and especially our foes, see us as empire in decline, and perhaps we are. All empires fade in time. We are no different. We no longer can or are willing to talk with each other. Instead, we talk at each other if we "talk" at all. We've lost faith in our institutions, yet we have nothing to replace them.

Some think they're "entitled" to something as a result of what may or may not have happened to their ancestors without considering that it was not the result of a single "guilty" people at a singular point in time or that it was their own people who placed them in that situation to begin with.

They also ignore the fact that it was the "guilty" people who not just removed them from the bondage forced on them by their own people, but removed all from bondage just as they ignored the historical fact that this construct has existed since the beginning of civilization and has affected all people, not just theirs.

The "entitlement" they've been told they were entitled to by certain groups has already been given to them. It was paid for with the lives who fought and often died for it. It's right there in front of them. It's name is "freedom", but they refuse to take it, expecting handouts instead. Their anger has been manufactured and manipulated.

We are divided not just along political lines, but along ideological lines. We are just as divided across economic class, as well as racial, urban vs. rural, cultural, and increasingly religious lines too. We don't even speak the same language, in some cases, literally. We've become unmoored as a nation with nothing to cling to.

The last time we were this deeply divided as a nation was in the 1850's, the decade preceding the Civil War. However, we don't have the vision and leadership of a Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun or Daniel Webster (collectively known as "The Great Triumvirate") to come and save us this time.

We are witnessing the balkanization of America. We need to pray that we aren't witnessing its permanent breakup too.  If we're to be saved, it must be the people of this country to do it. Partisanship can't. Washington can't and neither can Wall Street. They are in fact the cause, not the solution.  We must put aside our imaginary differences and come together. We must acknowledge the real enemy and act. If we can do that, we cannot just save our nation, but make it truly great once again.  

 

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Americans' Confidence in Media Falls to Record Lows, Poll Finds


Media Confidence Ratings at Record Lows