Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Divisive Crack in US Society. . .

I grew up in the US in the midst of the Vietnam War. It was undoubtably a turbulent time. As I got a bit older and the US started to go significantly downhill during he 1980s, loosing it economic edge and gradually rejuvenating its neo-colonial military efforts in the third world, I like many of my generation lost faith and hope. As a fairly extreme leftist, I never had much faith in the US. But also like many progressives, I thought that the liberal social movements of the 60s and 70s as well as the anti-militarism that grew out of the anti-Vietnam war effort were leading to a significantly more progressive future for the US. The Reagan presidency basically put an end to those hopes. I finally left the US shortly after George Bush (the elder) was elected. I knew for certain then that the US had set itself on the path to destruction. Though two "Democrats" have won the presidency since then, they de facto adopted the same neo-liberal economic agenda that Reagan had helped to usher in (and in many ways magnified it significantly).

I have thought for a long time now that the United States in on a path to a federal breakup. There are surely few countries that are more ideologically divided as the US. The ideological differences that mark the nation have nowhere been more pronounced than in the emergence of the so-called "Tea Party" republicans. This bizarre, shockingly ignorant, group have fashioned a strange combination of pre-constitutionalist evangelicalism, knownothinism, and an incredibly selective view of both the Constitution and early Federalist and Republican (no relation to modern republican) policies/approaches. It is a movement that is as strange as it is despicable.

The Tea Party movement may be hypocritical and often incomprehensible, but it is appealing to a large section of the bigoted, religious, white population of the US which now sees itself outnumbered in a country where it once had nearly unquestioned hegemony. There are still old-style Republicans out there but the party they once knew has gradually been taken by an even more bigoted and fundamentally religious group. It is difficult not to imagine that this de facto split will not lead in the near future to a split in the party itself. But the moderate Republicans and the Democrats have not really done much for the country anyway. The US continues to decline in many ways. Inequality (economic, social, political, and racial) is getting worse by the year. The US continues to lose its economic power, its military supremacy, its moral authority, and its democratic tradition. And a guy like Trump, despite rhetoric to the contrary, will do nothing for any of these declining cultural elements. Economically, Trump stands for more of the same - the decline of US manufacturing, the gradual disappearance of its education system, and the low-wage, anti-union economy that has led to the middle-class stagnation. Militarily Trump may talk big, but the gradual bankruptcy of the nation along with its often marginalized political stances will make it impossible for the US to continue to enforce its interests with military solutions. (Not that I really care about that, but many Americans do). The US never really had any moral authority, but many Americans struggled for it to have it. But when the Republican Nominee routinely advocates war crimes in his speeches, you can be sure that the any idea of American moral authority is permanently gone. And the very notion of democracy in the US (amidst PAC money and media concentration) is now in doubt.

There are many good and progressive people in the US, and I am sure they are horrified by the idea of a Trump presidency. But even if Trump does not become president, Americans need to think seriously about what their country has become where a blatant racist man pushing the country toward outright fascism can win the support of a significant portion of the population. It is difficult to imagine a happy ending here.

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