The Great American Divide

The great divide amongst Americans today is not an accident of fate. It is not my fault or your fault. In some ways, it's not even the fault of the Democrats or what we traditionally knew as the Republican party. For a very long time a small group of determined people have set their sights on Divide and Conquer as a means to an end. The end they desired was the creation of a way of life that can only be described as an aristocratic society where certain elites run this country as if they are feudal lords, herding the majority of the population into whatever work the elites decide on. At very low wages, of course.

They set out on a path that would change the way citizens viewed their government as well as their own obligation to humankind. Many of these people called themselves Libertarians. But they have gone way beyond a political philosophy and have become extremists who seek only enrichment and power for themselves at the expense of the rest of us. To win at their game of destroying the New Deal of FDR, which has kept our elderly out of poverty and helped to create America's great middle class, they set up an extensive array of interconnected think tanks, news outlets, non-profit support organizations, endowed professorial chairs, and even bankrolled colleges. The role of these organizations was to create, publicize and make acceptable lovely-looking gift-wrapped versions of their chosen ideological preferences while denigrating everything created by government. There are many who fell for this, hook, line, and sinker, subverting a major political party in the process.

To win required undermining the average American's faith in their government as an effective force in our society. To accomplish that, they set out on a path to set us against each other by inculcating selfishness and suspicion amongst us. And divided we are. Their camp claims Survival of the fittest and Every man for himself! The other, after years of complacency, is coming to life and pushing back.

As Americans and as human beings, our species has survived many eons because of cooperation, not selfishness. Living together in groups, undertaking specialized tasks, and taking the needs of the group onto consideration keeps us alive. So many times in our country's past we have seen neighbors come together to help each other. Neighbors working together to raise a barn for a fellow farmer is the past we all know. Making all decisions from a position of self-interest, as these people would have you believe is appropriate, is the philosophy of Philistines, antithetical to the teachings of Christ, and sets us on the path to extinction.

The deliberate strategy crafted by these extreme libertarians to destroy the New Deal of FDR was to divide those old enough to receive social security (or so close they could taste it) from younger workers. Sure, old folks get it now, they say, but there won't be any left for you! I've been hearing that since I went to work at 18. Yet I'll be signing up for my own earned benefit very soon.

The destruction of trust in government creates a climate ripe for privatization. "The private sector can do it better. And cheaper," they proclaim. But don't kid yourself, privatization does cost more than government services. As a one-time federal employee I never received any end-of-year bonus, let alone a bonus of the size provided for CEOs of private companies. In the first Gulf War, privately employed truck drivers were getting $60,000 a year while Army truck drivers were getting paid $16,000. All that extra salary was tax dollars going through a private company while our own soldiers languished in poverty-level wages.

Just imagine how many public dollars designated for education are ending up in private pockets, contrary to the Constitutional Preamble instructions to "ensure the general welfare."

Foe decades and even centuries, our federal government has followed these Constitutional directives:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Our presidents take an oath to preserve and protect this Constitution. When we hear discussions about this 'protection' we are led to believe it includes only defense against a foreign attack. But protection of our Republic and our citizens goes beyond maintaining an army and navy. It even goes beyond protection from crime and fire.

Over time, the American people, through their votes, have defined "protection" to include maintaining the health and safety of the water and air required for life itself from the destruction and harm caused by corporate pollution. We have defined protection as safety rules so employees don't die while trying to earn a living. We have defined it as a public health service that uses tax dollars for better health care for the poor as a means of preventing epidemics such as cholera from ravaging our cities, killing rich and poor alike. We have defined it as both physical and financial aid after a natural disaster to keep citizens alive and help rebuild their community and economy. Without government support of public education and universities we would never have developed the work force that put us amongst the world's strongest economies and would not be prepared for the coming Knowledge Economy. Without these protections we never would have become the country so admired around the world that every day people line up at our embassies hoping for a visa to come here.

Without a government that created paved highways, sewer systems, rules for financial transactions, without a government that invested in its citizens and their needs, we would be a third world country, a place governed by a familial dynasty supported, aided, and abetted by a super rich oligarchy. In other words, a place unable to live up to its dream not to mention the defining language of its founding documents. Without our government we would not be that Shining City on a Hill.

Our founding documents repeatedly say "all," not some. In doing so, they call for an America that is a level playing field. Given circumstances of birth, it is only government that can create that level playing field. Corporations won't create it. There is no money in it for them.

The level playing field comes from making sure all citizens start their lives healthy and remain as healthy as possible. Pregnancy care, safe childbirth, well baby check ups, vaccinations, emergency care, are all a part of this.

Education levels the playing field. Government is obligated to provide educational opportunities for all. This not only broadens every citizen's understanding and appreciation of the world but is an investment in our future economy.

One person, one vote levels the playing field and allows every American to have their say in government. Freedom of speech also acted as a leveler until the Supreme Court decided that those with money deserved a louder voice than those without money. These extremists have even tried to redefine the very word Freedom, to allow some to believe they can discriminate against others, undermining the very basis of our country's founding philosophy. It is time for us to come together and defeat this. Make no mistake, we can stop this train.

The idea that the country should be run by familial elites with large bank accounts is antithetical to our founding documents, and as well as to our understanding of who we are as a people. The idea that rich, multinational corporations, and the families that own them, should use their money to dictate legislation is anathema to the principles upon which we were founded. Yet this is what has come to pass as extreme libertarians attempt to divide and conquer We The People.

America was the first nation-state founded upon an idea. The idea that All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.... We stand here today on the eve of destruction. That Shining City on a Hill can only be saved if we fight these forces of greed. Your greatest weapons are your voice, your presence, and your vote.

I hope you will join me in proclaiming, I am an American. And I intend to fight.

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Comments

Yes, Ma'am!

Sign me up.

We need to go out of our way

We need to go out of our way to make certain every American knows this has been going on. It's nothing less than a slow moving coup d'etat.

I resent this attempt to turn my country into an oligarchy.

We have indeed been divided and conquered

and the libertarians that you speak of, the Koch brothers, our own Pope, and the cadre of rich, greedy bastards behind the scenes have done some job on us. We can't even seem to talk to the other side without bile spilling all over. It is sad. I hope we can find our way to keep this grand experiment from going off the tracks for good.

Thanks for writing such a concise portrait of our current America.