A Septuagenarian Asks ‘Where Did America Go?’


Over the last 40 years, I have watched America morph into something I no longer recognize. I am aware that we have never been a great nation, but over 76 years, I was encouraged by changes that I believed were moving America forward. In my 30s, I began to see changes. I was misled at first, but as I watched events in Washington closely, I witnessed an increase in partisanship which concerned me greatly. Our government no longer works in 2022.

In 1980 I was fooled by a talented orator who had been a very good governor in my home state of California. Immediately after his inauguration, Ronald Reagan revealed himself as the enemy of the working class and a short while later as a sexist and likely a misogynist. His support of big business became obvious as he revealed his economic policy he called “supply side economics,” but quickly became known as “trickle down economics.”

There is no doubt that Reagan’s foreign policy was above average. However, his domestic policies were harmful to most Americans. He took complete control over his party, ending all free thought and dissension. His devotion to Christianity gave birth to the Christian Religious Right. This lobby is one of the primary reasons our government is dysfunctional today. In violation of the first amendment, right-wing politicians obey the CCR and ignore the needs and wishes of the American people.

Another change began during the Reagan administration. Our presidents were placed above the law. The Constitution no longer applied to them.

Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were deeply involved in the Iran-Contra Affair but were never punished. Their crimes were swept under the carpet. Next, Bill Clinton was given a free pass after ethics violations. This led to another free pass for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who lied to Congress and the American people as an excuse to invade Iraq. They should have been charged with war crimes after the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and American troops.

Barrack Obama was the only modern president without controversy.

Courtesy of Thomas de LUZE (Unsplash CC0)

However, Donald Trump made up for his virtue. Beginning on Jan. 20, 2017, he has been mired in controversy. Allegations of criminal activity were reported nearly every day during his administration. His tenure ended with an attempted coup and the theft of secret documents. He remains free, although he is clearly guilty of treason. The Rosenbergs were executed in the electric chair for possession of America’s nuclear secrets in 1953. There is no difference between Trump’s crimes and those of the Rosenbergs.

The rich continue to become richer, while one-half of all Americans live below the poverty line or in the low-income bracket, living paycheck to paycheck. Income inequality is a serious problem completely ignored by one entire political party.

The problems within law enforcement and the courts are escalating. No one, including yours truly, trusts law enforcement in the 21st century. In our courts, justice is no longer blind, and the scales of justice are tipped in favor of the rich and powerful. The truth is that no one in power can be trusted.

Most importantly, understanding, compassion, and tolerance were replaced with anger, hatred, and violence among our nation’s people. “A house divided cannot stand,” and our country is as divided as it was during the Civil War with no immediate recourse in sight.

As I age and become nearer to my 80th year, I fear for my country. It is unrecognizable to this old man. What I see today is not what I witnessed as a young man growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. There have been some positive changes, but many of those were erased between 2017 and 2021.

By James Turnage, Novelist


National Museum of African American History & Culture: A Changing America
The Washington Post: ‘Changing America’: The Hill is launching a ‘centrist’ site on citizenship; Opinion by Erik Wemple

Featured and Top Image by Mario Sessions Courtesy of Unsplash – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Thomas de LUZE Courtesy of Unsplash – Creative Commons License

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