NEWFANE — The façade of American power, unity, and exceptionalism is crumbling.
If you look inside, there is nothing but a cancerous stew of thwarted ideals, highjacked principles, corruption, ineptness, and base subservience.
At the federal level, we are a failed nation. The same powers that have always controlled our politics - the wealthy oligarchy - have co-opted the democratic process to the extent that there is no longer any chance that the Congress can actually represent the American people.
Vermont Rep. continues to fight the good fight, believing in principles and struggling to keep decency and generosity in the debate, but to no avail. The sway of corporate power and wealthy interests keep the Democratic party firmly in the grip of the status quo, which will allow for no structural change to improve the lives of poor, marginalized, and struggling people in the United States.
As the emergency grew, they changed their tune and now the testing may be free. There just aren't any tests.
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For decades, in our pursuit of lower taxes, cheap votes, and short-term gains, we have neglected our infrastructure, health care “system,” and our people's welfare.
The federal government has allowed higher education to go out of reach for all but the wealthiest. It pretends that racism doesn't exist. It has decided that a large homeless population is simply the price of freedom; that it is OK for someone to go bankrupt and join the ranks of the homeless if they have a medical issue that requires money.
This is a government that can't find money to stop evictions of folks who have been defrauded of their houses but gives billions to the banks that defrauded them. This is a government that, like the popular culture, relies on sound bites and empty rhetoric.
No wonder we elected Donald Trump. He is the epitome of empty words and selfishness as is the popular culture. He encourages us to ignore reality and rather embrace whatever myth about ourselves that we prefer.
So now, with Trump's weaknesses showing, his nerves fraying, and his policies unravelling, the Democrats pull out their trump card: “Ladies and gentlemen, emerging from the muck of crack/cocaine-sentencing disparity laws, plagiarism, sleeping with the bankers, supporting W's Iraq war, trashing Anita Hill for the sake of installing Clarence Thomas, and manhandling women in his own unique fashion, we present Stumbling Joe Biden.
With all the possibilities of candidates who represented an acknowledgement of America's need to change, at least a little, this is who the voters, guided by the establishment, chose?
Since Joe's façade does not hide his negatives, he has added an extra layer of Obama cloak. Apparently, this is all that is needed for people to forget what lies within and instead hope for something that resembles their notion of what Biden might be, if he weren't Biden.
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So what does all of this disgraceful political conduct indicate?
It shows us that whether we are having the most important election in a lifetime (last time, this time, etc.) or just a ho-hum contest between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the only winners will be the moneyed interests and the losers will once again be the American people.
As they have always done, the new batch will stay beholden to the lobbyists and their corporate masters, keeping their heads down and their hands out and continuing to sweep problems under the rug until a crisis like this pandemic catches them flat-footed again.
But the Powers That Be are increasingly playing with fire.
The illusion of America can last only while there is some semblance of the myth contained in the reality. The ratio of truth to fantasy is now dangerously skewed, and we may soon be at a point of no return when it comes to saving (or starting) our democracy.
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Trump is now trying to instigate civil war, encouraging sedition and revolt in states run by governors he doesn't like. Undoubtedly, the Democrats will mouth a few exclamations, tsk-tsk, and then go back to following the bouncing ball.
In the meantime, the bifurcation of this nation that first fully showed itself in 2016 with Trump's victory is only getting worse.
Trump's minions are the minority in this country, as are Republicans, but, like the Republicans, they will do anything they can to maintain their hold on power, no matter the cost. If the political establishment thinks that Trump and his supporters will go quietly into the night if Biden manages to squeak out a victory, they are in for a sad surprise.
Right-wing organizers know that if Trump is defeated thoroughly, he and his illegal machinations may well be uncovered and his unsubtle project to turn the U.S.A. into a strong-man “democracy” in the line of the Philippines or Brazil will be in jeopardy. (If the Dems win, they will make sure that the power goes back to the corporate oligarchy, where they themselves believe it belongs. That bodes ill for the nativists as well as for the rest of us.)
These Trumpsters, and Trump himself, unable to conceive of anything but total victory for himself, pose a dramatic and very real threat of violence and terrorism that could make the country ungovernable.
Considering that the midnight cowboys who brandished their AK-47s at the Black Lives Matter standoff during the Obama administration are not in jail, but are rather enjoying folk hero status with an all-too-large segment of Trump's supporters, it's not at all unrealistic to think that some sort of twisted secessionist movement could start to make active use of some of the 300 million guns that we have hanging around the premises.
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While the national experiment at democracy has failed, it is still on life support in some states.
As evidenced by various governors' responses to the COVID-19 outbreak, some politicians are still interested in the welfare of the people and have the means to make things happen at a state level.
Vermont has an example of a governor who typically prioritizes dollars and cents, yet he understands that this crisis is bigger than his limited vision and requires decisive action, with the cost question being secondary.
Individual people (not the ones hoarding masks and toilet paper, nor the ones trying to profit from the crisis) have shown that all is not lost in North America. Whether it is pitching in to make masks, deliver food, volunteering to help neighbors, or simply following health directives, millions of folks are doing what they can for the general welfare.
These acts are a beautiful testimony to what humans can be capable of if they are not driven first by economic interests. But is is obvious how far short of the mark these efforts fall when trying to make up for the massive collapse and failure of the national government.
We need to understand that we may well be required to continue to govern ourselves - in spite of our national leaders - well into the future.
If the national government is a lost morass of co-opted charlatans, then we must work doubly hard to make sure that our state can unify and work to protect ourselves against the onslaught of federal stupidity and arbitrary directives that could endanger us. Hashtag campaigns and viral posts will not change anything.
Civil war is a very large concept that we all would rather not consider. Doing nothing to prepare ourselves for its possibility is to be just as clueless and feckless as the national government has been in dealing with the events that have brought us to the edge of this precipice.
The myth of America can only damage us now. We need to look at the ugly truth and then deal with it.