But it won't be birthed unless we birth it...
A New America Is Struggling To Be Born
It’s time for America to recreate itself.
An America that has reclaimed its original principles but is willing to reckon with the places where we have not lived up to them. We need to celebrate the places where we have been right and to admit to places when we have been wrong.
America has strayed in far too many ways from our foundational principles. We have never fully actualized the ideal that God created all men equal, endowed by God with the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – but until only a few decades ago, it was at least our national consensus that we should try. Throughout our history, more than not we moved in the right direction, willing to course-correct in the face of our own transgressions. We answered slavery with abolition, the institutionalized suppression of women with the suffragette movement, and segregation with the civil rights movement. The American imagination belonged overall to the better angels of our nature. We believed in governance according to the will of the people and we were willing, in the words of JFK, to bear any burden, pay any price, in order to further it. Government of the people, by the people and for the people had became our national creed.
Yet then, over 40 years ago, America took a detour onto a path that has shattered that democratic ideal. What FDR had described as “forces of greed and lust for power” were loosed among us. The light of democracy began to wane, the musculature of citizenship began to wither. Short term increase of corporate profits, no longer democracy, became our governing principal, America’s new bottom line. The primacy of property rights was placed above the safety and security of either our people or our democracy.
Neither political party can congratulate itself at this point, for while one of them started this soulless, unethical trajectory the other one failed to stop it. What matters now is that the house of our democracy is on fire, and we don’t have time to spend all our energy on identifying the arsonist. What matters now is that we save our house. For those in any political party who denied to the people of this country what the citizens of every other advanced democracy have been granted by their governments – from universal healthcare to free or near free higher education or trade school, from paid maternity/paternity leave to child care and sick pay, from labor rights that repudiated corporate exploitation to any manner of economic opportunities denied to the average American, so massive has been the transfer of wealth from the majority of our citizens to a tiny few- it’s time for them to step aside. It’s time for a new generation of American consciousness to emerge, breaking the chain that binds us to the trickle down illusions that have led to such societal decline.
We don’t need any more evidence that the system has become deeply, intrinsically corrupt. We can see it in the broken windows, shuttered factories and violent crime in our once thriving communities. We can see it in the hollowed eyes and addiction rattled brokenness of our fellow citizens. We can see it in the mass despair of millions of Americans who work hard all day yet cannot afford a one bedroom apartment, who were holding on but now find themselves homeless, who are struggling with anxiety born of constant economic uncertainty, who tried their best to get into the game but have found the game so rigged against them. Despite the scandalous scale of despair in our midst, leading politicians barely mention the word poor, barely address the root causes of poverty, so drunk are they on money and power that they are buffered emotionally against the ravages of human suffering.
That era can end now. We can replace it with our decency and love, our spirit of innovation and the radicalism of the American spirit. The American mind can awaken and the American heart crack open, to see the pain of suffering children and hear the cries of an endangered earth. This is, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt’s when speaking of the Great Depression, no ordinary time. It is a time of peril and a time of possibility, but the latter only if we make it so. It is time to decide which way we will go now: in the direction of a corporate authoritarian dystopia or a new birth of freedom and recommitment to the humanitarian ideals which at our best we have always upheld.
The poor, the near poor and the afraid of becoming poor now make up as great a portion of our population as was true during the Great Depression. Their economic circumstances are only callously addressed by those who have never known the pangs of hunger, and have taken no time to try to imagine it. Washington is run by political car mechanics, technically proficient at times but with seemingly no idea what road we have been on, what road we should have been on, or what road we should be on now. They are the last people we should be looking to to get us out of the ditch they drive us into.
It’s time for the American people to take hold of the wheel now. The political class has been a poor substitute for the will of the people as the driving force of our governance, so corrupted have they become by the legalized bribery of corporate and billionaire donations. Neither those who led us into trickle down hell, nor those who maintain its greedy parasitic hold, will be our deliverers at this time of national crisis.
They of course would have us think otherwise, approaching us with every campaign having perfected the pleading tone of the disloyal lover, “Come on baby, give me one more chance.” Those who perpetrated this economic madness do not deserve another chance, and those who have proven themselves too ineffective or too compromised to fight it off will do no better if given another chance to try.
A new America is struggling to be born, with appropriate guardrails against corporate overreach, an economic bill of rights to return the average working American to their rightful place at the top of Americas pyramid of opportunity, a warp speed just transition to a green energy grid to mitigate the climate disasters already upon us, the return of Democratic values to our foreign policy, and care for the health and safety of our children before the forces of greed that so consistently disregard their interests.
This is not a time for politics as usual, for politics as usual has failed us. Our ship of state must turn around now, carefully and responsibly yes, but with no further obeisance to the corporate masters who have steered it so heedlessly into dangerous waters. A soulless, unethical politics has led us to a very dangerous place. We are challenged now by a threat to our people, a threat to our democracy, and a threat to our planet. It is a challenge that is ours to confront, and with God’s help we can.