By Authority of the Good People, Colltalers
On this Fourth of July, millions of Americans may be feeling depressed. For many reasons, a certain malaise, a self-defeating disposition seems to be assailing the majority. As if a decades-long war for the country’s soul just came to a resolution, and we’re all on the loser’s side.
Erosion, or disconnect with reality, of that reassuring image of a young nation, capable of anything and bound for glory; the world’s misery catching up with America’s optimism; money; politics; Trump. Likely causes for such grief may outnumber the 241 years of this anniversary.
But voices of discontent, and warnings about betrayal of the Founding Fathers’ vision for the United States, were already sounding loud and clear on the eve of its first birthday, and many times since. For what arguably made the U.S. finally conquer the world, in the 20th century, was exactly such restlessness, such need to adapt and evolve. And just like now, dark times often obscured America’s perceived greatness.
On this Independence Day, many don’t feel independent, or free, and have their bolted-to-the-ground lives to prove it. It’s not just that there are more incarcerated Americans than ever, more than any other country. But it’s also because poverty, illiteracy, disease, addiction, racial and social prejudice, like cruel wardens, rule the lives of so many. Cast aside from society, they no longer have a say on the country’s direction.
Take the unemployed, for instance, or the sub-employed, or the large segment of the U.S.’s workforce without any labor links to their jobs. Since President Obama, the economy has been recovering, and creating thousands of new jobs. But with wages stagnant for over 40 years, unlike corporate earnings, this has been a recovery without rescue provisions for workers stuck in a spiral of degrading standards of living.
Plus, the future is already set to use less, not more, human labor, as industries gear to automation. As high education is now a for-profit business, costs for retraining and specialized instruction, required for the millennium’s new professional realities, are increasingly prohibitive.
Race relations is another reason why at least 70 million Americans are so despondent about the U.S., circa 2017. Again, along a staggering number of black youth killed by police, there are simply too many victims of urban violence, or the deadly poverty and social exclusion trap.
That a world mired in permanent wars would generate growing numbers of refugees, whose immigrant status would be vilified and used to fuel xenophobia and intolerance, is not
a surprise. But that the biggest nation of immigrants, founded on principles of equanimity and justice for all, would tilt towards the same unjustified hatred, is a huge leap backwards. And it doesn’t help that such nation is a pace setter either.
Finally, another strong contribution to American bitterness and dark mood these days, comes, of course, from the systematic deterioration of its democracy. Specifically, the dilapidation of crucial institutions such as the electoral process and the government’s 3-prong power structure.
In the same way that no one acquires an education nowadays, without spending a few hundred thousand dollars, no one gets elected without raising a few millions. And whereas in the first case, the end result is incapacitating personal debt, on public office, the price is compromise.
Power that should be earned from representation, is instead, sponsored by influence. Those who can afford, easily get themselves a politician or party, while those who can’t, get so discouraged that they don’t even show up at the pols, when not prevented altogether from voting.
It’s not a case of ‘Once upon a time, in a democracy far away and long ago,’ but a methodical disarming of the voters’ power to exercise their right to choose. Local, small time elections have been flooded with cash too. And worst, the Supreme Court has contributed to this travesty.
Even women’s groups and sexual minorities, demographics that have shown unusual resilience, and whose struggle for being counted have inspired and driven the nation towards a more progressive direction, find themselves at a challenging crossroads on this big civic holiday.
It’s a context of mounting evidence for a perfect storm of sorts, in which a greying horizon of piling bad news and fears bodes poorly to a redemptive dawn anytime soon. And yet, there’s another segment with plenty of doom and gloom arguments to boot: Americans who are growing impatient about, yes, other Americans. When are they going to wake up, they ask, and stop taking democratic stability as a given?
There’s no attempt here to leave Trump, or his supporters, for that matter, off the hook. Much of the aggravation and quick debasing of the U.S. in eyes of the world – never mind the risk of a catastrophic military adventure -, is a direct result of what this president brought upon his office, and by extension, Americans. Who, as argued, have indeed plenty of justification for their grief, feelings of betrayal, and hopelessness.
He must be held accountable not just for what he’s already done, his dishonesty, lack of moral standards, and authoritarianism, but also for what we all fear he may do to hold on to his position. Thus, credence should indeed be given to those feeling utterly disenfranchised by him.
But if this day offers anything positive to anyone, Americans here and abroad, and every other citizen of the world, the bottom line is that this nation was founded on ideas whose construct is still a work in progress, mostly far from ever being completely fulfilled.
After all, as the uniquely American, and yet, universally human, Declaration of Independence eloquently states, ‘all men are created equal,’ and that ‘certain unalienable Rights’ are ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ In other words, is not that the work is done here.
Without embarrassing ourselves with yet another flawed analysis of such a meaningful document, what’s explicit from the start is neither a set of rules or obligations, duties or beliefs, nor anything in the name of country, religion, race or social standing, but a palette of ideals.
What it proposes to Americans, it’d to any other nationality, with equal candor and humanistic fervor. So if anyone is to be motivated by this set of precepts, it’d be so out of the humanity that resides in every one. Not for patriotism or blind faith; simply for being what they are.
There are millions of sadden and helpless Americans on this Fourth of July. Those to whom there’s no barbecues to feed their spirits, or fireworks to recharge their souls. We must tell them not to give up, if not for them, then for those who are even worse off in record numbers.
Not all parties are about celebration, and even fewer will be given today to honor a particularly cheerful mood. And yet we must gather, and accept our differences, and find common ground. Just like 56 signers of the Declaration, including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson – who died both on this day, 191 years ago -, did. We the people are so much better off that they did. On this Four of July, choose not to be alone.
A last word about yesterday’s mid afternoon silence, reported in Brazil. It was a nationwide sobering moment in respect to Confederations Cup winners Germany, unofficial executioners of Brazilian soccer aspirations. Well done, boys. It was a beautiful victory, that tops a series of many. The champions are now the team to beat when the football circus returns to Russia next summer, for the World Cup. See you then. WC