By Jackson Thomas
I am neither Democrat nor Republican, Liberal nor Conservative. I am not rich or poor. I am not happy or unhappy. I am, simply put, frustrated. I believe we can be better than we are and I believe this country can be better than what it has become. There was a time when the two party system worked for the greater good of the nation — when the individuals who made up those two parties actually cared about what was best for their country & its citizens. That time is long gone. All that seems to matter in 2012 is what is best for “The Party,” as discourse in American politics has been replaced by the angry buzz of People with Money & Power bickering about who has more money and power and doing everything they can to remain in power to make more money. All of this is done at our expense.
Corruption runs rampant throughout all levels of government, from the White House to city halls across the country as the rich use any means possible to fatten their wallets. We all have, at the very least, a vague idea of this. It seems like it frustrates everyone I speak with, but nothing is ever done. Nothing happens to these People of Power aside from a slap on the wrist or possible banishment to their family estate, where they can do anything their evil hearts desire without having to worry about what their pesky constituents think.
Meanwhile, we get to sit back and watch it all unfold on MSNBC and FOX News, two channels which speak for themselves and their party under the guise of journalism. Ironically enough, we all seem to understand that most, if not all of the major media outlets in this country serve mainly as tools of propaganda. We all seem to have an idea that those in control of this country (meaning not just the politicians, but the corporations as well) want things to be this way. It’s how they keep us in check.
They want us to be forced to sort through countless pages of misinformation or distacting nonsense in order to find one shred of useful (unbiased and/or accurate) information, which we can then use to come to our own conclusions about what we believe to be true in the world. They want us to have to work to educate ourselves on current affairs and how to interpret them, because they know the vast majority of us simply will not do it. They understand that we have, for the most part, become a lazy, self-serving society. We want everything right now and we want it as easy as possible, or we do not want it at all. We are the same people who will pause our MP3 players as we sit at self-service gas stations (which have Red Box movie kiosks) to complain that there are no jobs to be had. Sadly, we do not do this to be ironic.
The reality is, many people simply do not care. They want to come home, turn on their enormous television and switch off their brain until it’s time to wake up and begin the entire soul-sucking process over again. To borrow from Chuck Klosterman, they are all “killing themselves to live.” These people are everywhere and they are having children – lots of them. They’re stressed that the world is such a bad place to raise said children. Yet sadly enough (and somewhat predictably), few are willing to do anything to help make the country better for the children they claim are so important. Thank God we focus so much on the children’s memorization (er, education – my apologies; I forgot that’s the same thing these days.). At least know someone will be able to pass along the story of The Most Egregious Passing of the Buck in History when we are dead and gone.
Don’t get me wrong, many of these people are very good people, they just choose to focus exclusively on their immediate reality in a desperate attempt to eke out an existence in this horrible economy that shows no signs of improving any time soon. They are scared, they realize they are almost beaten, and they believe there is no help to be had because those in power do not care about them. They are, for the most part, correct in that belief. They are told by people who already have money to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” This is difficult to do when one has no boots.
Just look around. People are going to college and graduating, but many of them have little to show for it because jobs in their field are scarce or non-existent. Others luck out and find a great position in their chosen career path, settle into a community, purchase a house and think about starting a family, then watch helplessly as the company they work collapses because the greed-heads in charge can’t live on their million-dollar salaries and need more money. Meanwhile, the Americans who have worked hard for years and done everything we were “supposed to do” from the very beginning have absolutely nothing to show for it. Wait, that’s not true. We have massive chunks of debt we acquired while working towards the degrees we can no longer use. So what then, eh? Most go to work at a minimum wage job, because that’s all that’s available. Good luck surviving on that unless you plan to work 100-plus hours per week or so.
Our country has been driven into the ground over the past several decades, and is run by people and corporations looking to make as much money as possible for them and their associates before the entire system crashes at the expense of you, me, and (basically) everyone we know. Again, this seems like something we all seem to understand on varying levels. We all agree that someone is to blame, but we can’t decide who that is, so we spit venom and fire at each other on a daily basis in the apparent hope that one side will eventually admit defeat and crawl into the Dead Party Cemetery next to the Whigs and the Federalists.
The problem is, we are doing exactly what they want us to do, because the two-party system has become a method of control for those in power. What was once a general disagreement on the proper form of government has degenerated into a backwoods rivalry reminiscent of the Hatfields and the McCoys, and that thinly-veiled animosity has spilled into daily life. People are angry and for the most part we take that anger out on each other.
This is, of course, exactly what they want. If we are separate and angry with each other (rather than united and angry with them) we will never be able to rise up and take back control of our nation from those who subscribe to the battlefield tactic of divide and conquer. As long as we allow them to keep us separate with words like Democrat, Republican, liberal or conservative, along with classic staples such as black and white or gay and straight, we will allow the deterioration of this country to continue until it’s eventually too late.
My favorite phrase of “new media” is “In-Group.” As in, “To which ‘In-Group’ do you belong?” My answer? I am an American and a human being. This means all of you are my in-group. We can reject apathy and stand up for the right to give meaning and shape to our own lives rather than attempt to adhere to a plan that existed so long ago and has failed so miserably for so many while making the rich richer. I want to stand up for those of us who no longer have a voice in this country, and I would like to know that there are people who care enough to stand next to me. I want people to care about other people again, because we are all Americans and we are all in this together. This is our country and these are our lives. We are all connected more than some of us realize, though we no longer seem to believe it to be true.
The idea of dignified and rational discourse began to die a slow, painful death long ago; however, it has not died completely. Not yet, at least. But it is up to us to turn things around. It is up to us to try to make this a better country for the average American to live in. It’s up to us to make sure that the American Dream is not lost forever during this wave of greed and gluttony that we are currently riding. We can change things, you and I. We can send this wave crashing back into the sea and rebuild.
We all have a chance to come together, right now, to create an alternative to this broken system. It is up to us. Let us regain the value we once placed on economic, political and social liberty. Let us understand that regardless of color or sexual orientation, we are all Americans. Let us reject the warped ideas that got us here, take control of a dire situation and do everything possible to fix the mess that others have made. Let us create a political party made up of people who value rationality and logic and work for real change. At least that way we can die knowing we helped accomplish something – something important. Something real and tangible for you, me, and our friends and family.
To paraphrase Edmund Burke, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men and women to do nothing.