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Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
As is typical with any political discourse in America, important issues are drowned out among the din of the ceaseless repetition of various right-wing mantras, which are remarkably limited in scope. It seems for the last thirty years – at least – the most often recurring salvo has been, “Tax cuts! Tax cuts! Kill government! Kill government!” Obviously, such simplistic demands fail to perceive the complex reality of modern society. The tax cuts they cry out for inevitably go towards the extremely wealthy, while reducing the size and scope of government generally means the cessation of services that offer the most help to ordinary Americans.
But the exchange is highly predictable. The economy is in decline, so the people demand tax cuts – “for the rich” goes without saying. Unemployment is skyrocketing, so the people demand tax cuts. The trade deficit is dangerously massive, so the people cry for tax cuts. An estimated 45 million Americans go without access to health care, so the people – well, you get the idea.
But in the midst of the deafening roar of the vociferous right-wing zombies (a minority, by all indications, but an exceedingly vocal minority), the most pertinent issues are wholly forgotten – at least within the carefully constricted world of the mainstream media. And when these crucial areas are neglected, so too are the myriad potential solutions which might have been realized had a more civilized discourse been allowed to transpire. When the blind masses are mindlessly shrieking for tax cuts and smaller government (but don’t touch defense spending, of course), it is fairly pointless to attempt a serious discussion of the potential benefits to be reaped from a single-payer health care system, or a comprehensive renewal of our dilapidated infrastructure, or an immediate cessation of the ridiculously counterproductive “war on drugs.” If one mentions to a teabagger the prospect of government-sponsored research into renewable energy, for example, the inevitable reply is, “Government is evil! Cut my taxes! Less government intervention!” How can we possibly engage in reasonable discourse when surrounded by such primitively obstreperous individuals?
It is evident that civilized discourse with the fanatical right is impossible. And while it is my belief that the majority of Americans do not share the same absurd beliefs as the ultra-conservative teabaggers and their Republican brethren, this latter minority of our culture – however small a percentage they might actually comprise – is rabidly vocal in their opposition to human progress of any kind, and they have the staunch support of the corporatocracy in their corner. Together, this segment of society turned against itself and their corporate overlords have wholly arrested the onward march of social development in our nation, to the extent that we are now worse off in many respects than we were thirty years ago. The rights, laws and government services that our predecessors painstakingly clawed and scratched to acquire (the right to choose, environmental protection, Social Security, to name but a few) are now on the verge of being overturned, due to the toxic meme of conservatism and the virulently distorted worldview that it entails.
Our society should be among the most prosperous on the earth. We have both the material and intellectual means to provide all citizens with a standard of living unprecedented in human history. Given wiser allocation of our resources, it entirely likely that we could have long eradicated poverty and hunger, most forms of pollution and a myriad of potentially curable diseases – including most forms of cancer. Instead, we continue to squander our vast wealth on the creation of weapons, the invasion of underdeveloped nations, and the continued enrichment of an already obscenely affluent elite.
In the light of all this, it might seem like there is very little to be grateful for on this Thanksgiving Day. Indeed, there is much to be desired in the current state of affairs. However, I for one take solace in the fact that I am not one of the multitude of walking dead known as the Right. I am extremely thankful – and proud – that I am a thinking member of the reality-based community, that I am awake and aware and utilizing my uniquely human gifts of critical thinking and analysis, rather than mindlessly accepting the world as the religious and corporate masters present it. So even if the world today seems rather bleak and without hope, at least remember that it could be worse: you could be a teabagger.