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Is Anybody There? Or Going To the Dark Side of Our Future

by John on 12/09/2017

(Warning: this post contains my worst fears; my dark side glimpses. But these ramblings need your feedback and help.)

is anybody there 1776Is Anybody There? is the finale number of the musical 1776.  John Adams is alone in the chambers the night before the signing of the Declaration of Independence after the wrenching battles with the Continental Congress.  Exhausted, he wonders, “Does anybody see what I see?”

They want me to quit;

They say John, give up the fight

Still to England I say

Good night, forever good night!

I see fireworks!

I see the pageant and pomp and parade

I hear the bells ringing out

I hear the cannons roar

I see Americans – all Americans free forever more.

It is a stirring, patriotic curtain closer.  You feel good; proud.

But I’m asking the same question too.  But instead of Adams’ vision, it’s closer to Lincoln’s in 1860.

civil-unrestFrighteningly, I foresee armed violence and rebellion – not from a foreign foe – but from within the United States – and soon.

Anyone else seeing that?

Maybe I am getting too deep or I’m misreading some great books and documentaries I’ve been devouring.

Take my column on Ken Burns’ Vietnam documentary.  The US defeat and disaster in Vietnam was apparent early when Buddhist monks sacrificed themselves through self-immolation.  If they’re willing to set themselves aflame, then there is little chance of victory by us – the perceived invaders,

We also saw in 1968 here in the US a wave violent protests that led to the deaths of leaders and even college students.

Are we there yet here?  I don’t think so. But maybe not far off.

The Trump Administration and the majority of the Republican Congress seem to fan angry flames for the political gains of a few at the expense of national solutions for many.

Is that enough to trigger a revolution?  No. Then what is?

  • How about war in Asia?  Thousands of Americans stationed in South Korea could be gone.  In his book, Destined For War, Graham Allison says anything can happen even an accident or a miscommunication.
  • How about Medicare and Medicaid cuts?  What if Millennials see their loved ones suffer or die because of lack of medical care?

Go back to my Vietnam analogy.  In addition to Buddhist monks sacrificing themselves, Americans turned vocal and violent when they realized:

  • Thousands of young people were dying in a foreign land
  • Our government lied to us for us for years about the progress of the war
  • The war seemed to benefit certain military industries while we headed towards a recession.

Are we about to see that?  If we do, will a larger group of Americans perceive the suffering and deaths of loved ones for the profit of others?

The violence back then – think of 1968 Democratic Convention and Kent State – was far worse than what we see today.

gilded age cartoonAre we near that?

Take another post of mine comparing today’s United States to the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.  A lot of the information comes from a great book by Colin Woodard called, American Character. The similarities of our political apparatus today to the monopolistic control of Congress back then is eerily similar.

Now add recent comments from extreme Republicans.  Roy Moore, who will probably be the next US Senator from Alabama, was quoted as saying the best time in American history was during slavery before the Civil War.  Woodard’s book retells the South Carolina congressman who offered a treatise on how workers in the Industrial Age in England were far worse off than Southern slaves at the same time — in 1846.

Nothing has apparently changed — for some of us.

book cover american character ColinWoodardNow add the awakening Women’s Rebellion spurred in part by Moore and other accused sexual assailants.

Are we seeing women ready to take to the streets, social media, and our elected offices?

How much are women willing to sacrifice to end their minority status?

What form will the pushback take in some regions like The South?

Read Woodard’s other book, American Nations.  He breaks down the 11 nations, really regions, of America and how they differ and conflict.

When you look at The Deep South you realize that the antebellum mentality has not died.  I live there.  I sense that the elite, upper class, landowners, business owners still make the decisions for a few.  And normally they are self-profiting decisions.

Still, many poor Southerners never punish their leaders.  In Strangers in Their Own Land, Republican leaders are rarely voted out of office for making deals with corporations that pollute, fail to provide jobs, and then leave the region with its profits.  Let me clarify, though. I know Southerners who are angry and moderate when it comes to the stagnant culture down here, but they are few.

Women's March Los AngelesSince I have lived in five of Woodard’s eleven American Nations, I suggest you try to understand the Southern man.  Many feel their history and way of life is disintegrating while they pay taxes so minorities and immigrants can get government handouts.

Understand but not necessarily agree since that view is short-sighted and economically incorrect.  But is this something white Southerners are willing to take up arms for?  Are they angry enough against blacks, immigrants, and women?  I don’t know yet.

Maybe if the federal government shuts off Medicare — for older Southern whites — then maybe.

But who do they protest?  The Federal government?  But those medical cuts might be orchestrated by federal lawmakers they voted for?  Will they pay then or will the overall government to the north catch the wrath instead?

Now look at Newt Gingrich, another Southerner, the former Republican Speaker of the House, and a current Trump ally.  Like Trump, Newt is accusing the FBI of corruption with the Mueller investigation of Russian involvement in the Trump election win.

Aren’t they pitting citizens who favor Trump against the government agency charged to protect us from domestic and foreign foes?

Isn’t blurring friends with foes dangerous?

charlottesville right wing protestsNow let me go darker.  Charlottesville and the wave of right wing nationalism echoes louder now with these same people who have legally and illegally cobbled massive fire power.

How many times do we hear that criminal or fringe groups are better armed than local, state, or federal police?

How often have we heard of mass killings for no known reason?  Why not a perceived reason by an American who feels aggrieved and ignored by his nation?

Again, am I inciting or speaking out responsibly?

Hopefully the latter.

We are missing the root causes for all this.

Instead of a nation of differences, we are becoming a country of divisions. It’s urban versus rural; older whites versus a younger mixed Americans; libertarian/laissez-faire versus the establishment.

urbanvsruralChaos only helps a small few.  If someone is creating that chaos, there is probably a good self-servicing reason.

Go deep into the cause, as Woodard helps explain.  The American formula of the individual versus the common good is way out of balance with the individual controlling our country.  In other words, “I don’t care if my freedom to do whatever I want to do infringes on your freedom to be free from it.”

Better said: we need freedom with responsibility.

Hey, I get the fear of Communism.  But Soviet style government is gone.  Norway and Finland are not trying to overthrow us with their form of governing.

Where’s our balance?

  • Suppressing the power of labor unions might help industries grow, but killing them only hurts the salary of workers.
  • Removing environmental regulations may cause profit-killing costs but eliminating them might be killing people too. 

Notice I didn’t mention the conflict of Democrat versus Republican?  That is just a veneer.  Democrats deserve almost as much blame as the Republicans. The reason why the Republicans appear more egregious in this apparent dismantling of democracy is because they won; their true selves are on display.

We The People deserve criticism too.  We have been lax as an informed citizenry.  We’re either too busy or too addicted to entertainment in the news. Neither is a credible excuse if our country might btrump-speech darke on the verge of imploding.

But this rambling is not about blame. It’s about warning.

It’s also about the economy.  Nationalism in politics and economics leads to wealth for a few that eventually hurts or could possibly take down an entire nation.  We had glimpses in the late 1890s, the early 1900s, The Depression, and The Great Recession of 2008.  These were all times when the individual was more powerful than the common good and the nation had to step in and provide more help for the common good.

So please question me.

I am no super forecaster by any means. Still, I think I have a better than average insight of what is ahead.

book cover idea of america gordon woodLook at my column from August 2015, a year and three months before Donald Trump became president.  I predicted he would win the nomination and either barely lose or barely win the election.

Some of you may say I am grandstanding.  Maybe. (Hey I was a reality TV host too.)

Hopefully what you will see my hope and desire that our country will be what Gordon Wood wrote about in his incredible historical work, The Idea of America.

The title says it all. We are a country built on the idea of freedom and responsibility to each other. We are not a nation of specific nationalities, religions, or economic dogmas.

Or as John Adams saying in 1776.

I see Americans — all Americans free forever more

Is Anybody There?

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