Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006



Momentum
AMERICA IS NOT A HAPPY PLACE

by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
Dummerston, Vt.

Printable version of this story

DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Most analyses of the recent elections sugar down to blame.

Somehow, it would be morning again in America if only....

  • The Democrats hadn't been such cowards. If, instead of dancing hypnotized in front of President Bush and the Republican party like snakes in front of flute players, they had developed new ideas, or attacked the Republicans where they are vulnerable (and culpable), on: corporate greed; the stock market crisis, the decimation of people's retirement funds and 401Ks; budget deficits; tax cuts for the rich; prison for the poor; destruction of the middle class; escalating attacks on Title IX and abortion rights.
  • The Republicans hadn't jump-started voters' adrenaline with their obsessive -- and by now certain -- war on Iraq.
  • The corporate-owned, right-wing, deaf, dumb and blind media had told the people some hard truths about the coming war, focused on the vital issues in the election, and stopped obsessing about the D.C. sniper.
  • Soft money hadn't made negative and deceptive advertising so easy, so attractive and so available.
  • More voters had come to the polls.
  • The American voter wasn't so inherently stupid and/or passive, so deluded and/or misled.

    The implication of all this blame is always, "it shouldn't have been this way."

    I'm thinking, maybe this is the way most American voters want things right now. You can argue that since voter turnout was exceptionally low, this Congressional sweep is not a mandate. But every adult learns that by not making a decision, they are making a decision. The people who cared voted.

    So maybe - just maybe - instead of being stupid or misguided or misled, voters voted with their hearts. What does that mean?

    Maybe most Americans really want this kind of a government.

    Maybe they are really scared, now that they have been attacked, now that they know how many people hate them.

    Maybe they want to strike back at someone, anyone, anywhere, to reassert their feelings of power and importance in the world, to hurt someone because they have been so hurt. Saddam Hussein is such an evil man that it isn't hard to get the blood stirred up against him.

    Maybe they are afraid of change right now. Maybe they think they should stick with the devil they know, rather than the devil they don't.

    Maybe they indiscriminately hate Arabs. Maybe they still blame them for the humiliation of the Iranian hostage situation, and have harbored a grudge ever since. Maybe it's easier to hate them even more after Sept. 11.

    Maybe they are really racist at heart. After all, this is a country with a history of capitalizing on prejudice and exclusion: damn Yankees; no Irish need apply; no Jews allowed in this club; no colored people can use this fountain; gay people are an abomination. Hating Arabs Indiscriminately isn't such a stretch.

    Maybe they think they have a God-given right - a manifest destiny, so to speak - to attack and annex the resources of any country they choose. Maybe they feel that since this country needs oil, and Iraq has oil, they have the right to go out and grab it.

    Maybe they will also support the reported next move - a strike against Iran, or maybe Syria, or maybe both.

    Maybe they believe America has the right to build an American empire, or at least an American protectorate, starting in the Arab world.

    Maybe they don't really care about protecting the environment. After all, they buy SUVs by the thousands; domestic manufacturers have stopped making small, fuel-efficient cars because so few people buy them. They like to drive their snowmobiles into pristine places. They like to build their homes on shaky promontories and over fault lines if the view is good. They don't care that "in addition to the 816 known species that have been lost in the last 500 years, there are 11,046 species currently threatened with extinction." (The Boston Globe).

    Maybe they like the convenience of sprawl, the huge supermarkets selling chemically treated food, the big box stores, and the Wal-Marts selling cheap clothing that falls apart within months.

    Maybe what some people denigrate as "ticky-tacky" or "McMansions," others call "home sweet home."

    Maybe they feel that abortion is really murder, and that women should stay home, defer to their husbands and raise the kids. Maybe they really believe that men should rule the world.

    If it is true that a majority of people in America feel this way, then the country is going to hell in a handbasket, and the election wasn't the "fault" of the press, the Democrats, violence on television or the fact that most Americans never leave America, and so they have no idea that real people - people just like themselves - live in other countries, too.

    "America is not a happy place," Will Hutton wrote in the London Observer last week. "A generation of increasingly conservative policies has shrunk the American middle and induced not just fantastic inequality but a sharp decline in social mobility and opportunity. The U.S.'s social contract, never more than minimalist, is now threadbare. Consumer confidence is low; job insecurity high."

    Hutton went on the say that the vast majority of Americans are not social conservatives or closet racists who want "the clock put back over women's rights, the environment and race."

    Maybe he's wrong. What do we do then?

    My love for America is passionate. I would probably die fighting for the values of democracy, freedom, justice for all and equality of opportunity. I grew up on those values. I love my home, my community, my friends and my work. I love my life.

    But if this is what Americans really want, this crazy, doomed march to empire, to war, to destruction abroad and poverty and devastation at home, then count me out.

    I love America too much to leave it, but I'm afraid it's leaving me. And that leaves me in despair.

    Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about culture, politics, economics and travel.

    Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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