Friday, December 28, 2012

Dawn or Dusk in America?

I wish I felt more optimistic as I watch the dawn of a new year unfold. Unfortunately, as the “Whew” factor many of us felt after Obama won reelection fades, we’re faced once again with the overarching reality of our present condition — rather than a “dawn,” we’re watching the sun setting on a once great democracy.

A short quote from an upcoming interview with Matt Damon in Playboy brought me back to reality. He says, “It’s easier now more than ever in my life to feel the fix is in, the game is rigged and no matter how hard you work to change things, it just doesn’t matter.” Not an earthshattering insight, but it nonetheless drives home the fundamental state of our nation. Corporate interests — Wall Street, the Fortune 500, defense contractors, gas and oil companies — drive national policy through their many tentacles wrapped around Washington, D.C., and their primary interest is not with the welfare of American citizens or even with the health of our economy, but with profit.

Like others, I was caught up in the moment of Obama’s recent victory, thinking that the good guys had won and they were gonna ride into town, clean out the riff-raff and save democracy, but I came down from that acid trip pretty quickly. The “fiscal cliff” lunacy looms over us, but that’s only one symptom of a serious illness that has infected the body politic in America. Our government is a corporate subsidiary. Forget the quotes of Washington or Jefferson or Lincoln. The only quote that continues to carry any weight, and the one quote that should be chiseled into the monuments and porticos of D.C. is from Charles Erwin Wilson, Secretary of Defense under Eisenhower and CEO of General Motors in the 1950s, who said, “What’s good for GE is good for America.” This is the mindset that is dragging this country down to its knees.

Change? It’s not in the cards, at least, not in the near future. What kind of a country have we become when the Occupy Movement, last year’s minor blip of protest against the current political machine, was treated as a domestic terrorist group by the FBI? In today’s world, simply protesting the status quo can get you lumped together with those organizations that would blow up planes or perpetrate suicide attacks. Our phone conversations and Internet usage are monitored, our movements tracked, our privacy stolen.

Americans are complacent and deluded, and it will take a much larger shock to the system than even the 2008 financial crisis to shake them out of their trance. If nothing significant changes in Washington, D.C., and there’s no reason to believe it will, that catastrophe will happen. The only questions is; will it be too late? 

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