America as a country is at a tipping point in many aspects, and its exceptionalism hangs in the balance. The world used to look to America as the land of opportunity where anything was possible and no dream was too big or unreachable, but those days are rapidly disappearing; if not gone altogether. However, there is still hope that the nation will coalesce behind a common goal of rebuilding and healing the broken spirit that dooms us to 2nd rate status that is certain without an intervention of decency.
A large portion of blame lies at the feet of the conservative movement that plays on ignorance and anger at an African-American president and an alleged Socialist conspiracy that on its surface is blatantly false, and at its depth is conspiratorial in nature. The tenor of the rhetoric from the right is hateful all the time and is purposely meant to divide the country as a means of distraction and deception. The left is not without blame, and their arrogance plays into the right’s narrative that liberals are out of touch and working from an elitist point of view.
The health care debate provides ample evidence that Americans were left out of the discussion, and both sides are equally culpable for the lack of understanding that has led to violent rhetoric and division that rivals the Civil War. Republicans and the Tea Party disrupted town hall meetings meant to provide information about the proposed bill, and the subsequent anger has set the mood that persists to this day. Democrats failed to sell the bill, and although the town halls were not productive, President Obama squandered the opportunity to speak to the public to lay out the benefits of the measure. Of course, Republican lawmakers are guilty of misinformation and outright lies that have turned out to be their modus operandi throughout Obama’s tenure.
If America is going to enjoy a robust economic recovery, the Congress must stop pandering to lobbyists and corporate interests over the needs of the American people. If Republicans continue giving every advantage to the wealthy and corporations, the American dream will languish, and eventually die a painful death. The Republican meme that taxes are a curse for business but fine for working families is responsible for the economic morass we are in and plays a great role in the demise of America’s infrastructure. No one is thrilled to pay taxes, but like any business, there must be funds coming in for the country to see growth. Republicans are further contributing to America’s woes by cutting social services that are the life-blood for any prosperous society. There is no doubt that there is acute waste in government, but at some point, the cuts must come from the defense budget that fuels our imperialistic tendencies instead of safety nets for the disadvantaged.
The American people are growing weary of the “just say no” policies that Republicans have pursued for the past two years, and if the Congress spends the next two years trying to undo the legislation that has been passed our demise will be certain. Poll after poll shows Americans want the partisan bickering to stop and for the parties to work toward a common goal, but that means leaders who are willing to set aside the hateful rhetoric and consider the needs of the people and not just the corporate interests destroying America. President Obama has made overtures toward that end only to be labeled a Socialist or worse by Republican leaders and conservative pundits at Fox News.
America’s prosperity and superiority came at a time when government programs built roads, schools, hospitals, and bridges vital to the country, and along the way, created good-paying jobs that made the American dream possible. The damage began when Ronald Reagan was president and told Americans that the government was the enemy of the people and was not there to help. Reagan though, used the government to break unions and remove regulations that provided Americans with a quality of life that was the envy of the industrialized world. Although Reagan would not survive in the Republican Party today, the neo-con, socially conservative policies that today’s Republicans espouse are a continuation of Reagan’s curse and responsible for the demise of our country. Regardless the arguments put forth by conservatives, the government is the only entity that can save America from the Ayn Randian mindset that will undoubtedly destroy us.
There is no shared vision for America in 2011, although a common goal would be the catalyst that will save the country. Republicans have perpetuated a “them against us” attitude that is unproductive and contributes to the hate that is retarding economic growth, and to a greater degree, social justice.
Abraham Lincoln famously said that, “A house divided cannot stand,” and military experts know that to prevail in a conflict they must “divide and conquer.” America is divided because Republicans and their conservative policies have divided the country into the wealthy and everyone else, and their use of religion to segregate the people into good and bad segments of the population is setting up more destruction. If they are intent on conquering America for oligarchy, their plan is working. If their goal is to make our democracy into a theocracy, their plan is working. Either way, they are killing America and the tipping point of our greatness is closer than anyone can imagine.
President Obama gave an inspirational speech on Wednesday imploring Americans to work for a common goal to save America from itself and to set aside the hateful rhetoric that is killing us. The impetus is on Republicans to stop pandering to corporations for their campaign contributions and start working for the American people. They also need to stop the incessant attacks on President Obama portraying him as an interloper who is bent on turning America into a socialist country.
America can turn the corner and step back from the precipice, but it will take concessions from Republicans and more compromise from Democrats. The compromise on tax cuts President Obama made with Republicans was a good start but there is more work ahead. If Republicans suddenly get a conscience and stop working for corporate America, we have a chance. If they do not, America is doomed to a combination ruling class that is part oligarchy and part theocracy; the perfect recipe for a third rate country like Afghanistan.