Gone, Wasted, Broken —
An Elegy on America
Gone now, America’s halcyon days
Where Reason stood tall and grand in the sun;
Brilliance defined Her equanimous ways –
Gone now, expunged, all Her triumphs hard won.
E. pluribus unum: Her goal was clear;
One chosen from many, She alone rose
Reflecting the grandeur of cause sincere,
Gone now, forever corrupted by woes.
Environments – Poisoned with gas and fume;
Waters – Mercurial, deadly as wars;
Broken – A people, too cold to exhume;
Uberty – Transposed to desolate shores;
Society – Crushed, then forced to concede
Hegemony – now become pow’r . . . and greed.
We have to face the reality that we who call the United States of America our home reside in a nation that is either on the brink of a rapid decline or is already well on its way down that ever-steepening slope. Why is that? Why is it happening? What’s happened to ‘bring it on’?
The sonnet above is an acrostic attempt on my part to not only poetically summarize elements implicit in America’s national demise, but at the same time to surreptitiously name one of the recent major players in the process. Note the first letters in each of the three words in the main title: G_W_B; also note the first letters of each of the sonnet’s fourteen lines, in order: G_W_B_G_E_O_R_G_E_W_B_U_S_H.
George W. Bush and his administration were not, of course, the first shots fired in support of America’s national demise, nor were they the last. But when one recalls the upsurge in the nation’s status during the Clinton years and the almost immediate fall from grace following the ‘selection’ by the US Supreme Court of GWB as president in December of 2000, it’s not much of a stretch to presume that the Gone, Wasted, Broken premise picked up a lot of speed at that moment, and that the steepness of the downhill slope increased dramatically as well. Political corruption in support of greed and power — and war — has a way of slowly but surely not only causing havoc and suffering, but also of revealing itself as the culprit.
An obvious question remains: what’s the genesis? Why? Why should there ever develop — in a Constitutional Democratic Republic such as the United States — a movement designed to overturn and disparage the very things that make it possible for the nation to maintain a semblance of freedom and economic prosperity for all? Historically, the standout reasons most often reflect the intent on the part of the body politic to use the talents and ethics of The Many as tools, with but one single purpose in mind: to further enrich The Few.
When did America’s downhill slide commence? Technically, on the day of her founding. She was, after all, a nation built by fair-skinned European invaders on a “new” continent inhabited by aboriginals who were, by virtue of their dark-skinned nature, easy to spot, easy to hate, and, thanks in no small part to the slightly elevated technology brought to the continent by the European immigrants, they were also relatively easy to kill, to overwhelm, to control. And too, there were the Africans, brought by the Europeans to do the hard and demeaning work in the agricultural fields of the South — black slaves who were officially defined, in the US Constitution of 1787 (Article I, Section 2, Clause 3), as being the equivalent of three fifths of all other Persons. Historically, in other words, the United States did not get off to a particularly equanimous start . . . racial hatred and distrust were, in effect, parcel to her character and remain, to this day, as major players in her political profile.
A review of more recent history — roughly the last 100 years or so — exposes the up and down cycle which is defined by the relentless clash between (a) the never-ending quest on the part of The Few for MORE power, for MORE wealth, and (b) those charitable programs designed to appease the needs of We the people — The Many — those who are embraced by the Constitution’s first three words. A cursory review of history quickly reveals that the consequences of (a) are, almost without question, eventual (and potentially severe) economic recession and/or depression, often war, whereas the consequences of (b) are far more beneficent and include relative prosperity for The Many, attainable without the imposition of any level of “suffering” upon The Few — who nevertheless remain obsessed with their lust for wealth and power.
During his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt suggested that the nation should implement a second bill of rights to include, for all Americans:
- The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
- The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
- The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
- The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
- The right of every family to a decent home;
- The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
- The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
- The right to a good education.
Roosevelt’s concept has since been labeled “Socialist” and “Redistributionist” (by representatives of The Few) and “Unfinished” (by spokesmen for The Many). Interestingly, Roosevelt included, when he characterized that which is commonly viewed as classic “rightist reaction,” words which were, indeed, predictive of America’s current dilemma. He said:
“One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis—recently emphasized the grave dangers of ‘rightist reaction’ in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called ‘normalcy’ of the 1920’s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.” (bold highlight added)
Roosevelt equated “rightist reaction” and the “‘normalcy’ of the 1920’s” with “the spirit of Fascism.” Imagine it. Then take a quick look around at the obtuse politics of America today. Consider the extreme Protofascist right wing’s so-called Tea Party and the notables amidst them, including, among numerous other “favorites,” newcomer Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. Note also spokespeople for ‘the cause’ such as Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and virtually the entire broadcast staff at Fox “News”, and don’t ignore the nearly fifty members of the House of Representatives and its Tea Party Caucus, including such (presumed) luminaries as Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Steve King of Iowa.
FDR was spot-on correct when he equated “the grave dangers of ‘rightist reaction’ in this Nation” to “the spirit of Fascism here at home.” We are surrounded constantly by both, and though they are not (yet) in the majority, their obstructionism has effectively brought the government of the United States to a standstill, and their threat to both the national and global economies is as immediate as it is pervasive.
Next up — scheduled for this day, March 1, 2013 — the latest effort on the part of the American Protofascist movement’s extreme right wing is to impose political minority control on the US Government. Popularly called the Sequester, it’s an economic abomination designed and intended (a) to derail any potential success America’s first Black President might ever hope to achieve in resurrecting the plundered economy and the overall National Failure brought forth by the previous administration, and (b) to “return to the so-called ‘normalcy’ of the 1920’s” by the forced diminishment of financial/banking regulatory procedures as well as by the eventual destruction of each and every remaining vestige of that “Socialist” President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Greed and Lust for Power have, again and as usual, quite literally devoured the American Right Wing. The overall consequence is surely to be the continuation of their implicit intention, i.e. the immutable national destructions noted above In Gone, Wasted, Broken, brought forward yet again by the errant economic philosophies embedded within the eternally negative “rightist reaction” to any and all legislative attempts designed to improve the quality of life of The Many, of We the people.
Also on the Protofascist agenda and currently surfacing as an issue in various states is the proposed modification of existing rules of Electoral College vote distribution. The goal is to take advantage of Article II (Section 1, Clauses 2, 3, and 4), plus Congressional District gerrymandering in a way which will shift the outcome of presidential elections to the Protofascist side of the ticket, potentially to guarantee election of a right wing President even if the popular vote goes the other way by virtually any margin, landslide included. Some might dare consider the concept to be parcel to suppression of the ‘one man, one vote’ ideal, and they’d be correct. But still, the issue would almost certainly be deemed ‘Constitutional’ by the nation’s highest court — although instead of ‘Constitutional’, the word “Putsch” may well be the more appropriate, more descriptive choice.
Perhaps in final analysis it was, indeed, George W. Bush himself who said it best of all the day that he announced:
“This is Historic Times.”
Or, perhaps it would more behoove us to heed the words of Thucydides, who wrote, circa 400 BCE . . . “The strong do as they can, while the weak suffer what they must” . . . and then proceed from there to explore whatever means might prove necessary to restructure and repair that reality once and for all. I suggest the latter course, noting that Thucydides also pointed out that “Praise is due to all who . . . refuse dominion, yet respect justice more than their position compels them to do.” Are We the people prepared to “refuse dominion”? Willing to “respect justice”? Compelled to act to save our country, and then do it? Sadly, I have my doubts.
This is today’s open thread — have at it!