My grandfather was one of the most important bureaucrats in Turkey and he got his start with a full-ride scholarship to do undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Oklahoma. Later in life, when my parents became visiting professors at the University of Maryland, they developed a great admiration for American values and let go of some of their bitter prejudices. It has been both my luck and my curse to grow up in a family that slowly yet deeply fell in love with the United States of America and the values it stood for. Therefore, it saddens me deeply to acknowledge that the America I grew up learning and hearing about is long gone.
If I could define the US as a character, I’d say it is a trust fund brat. The politicians or simply the citizens who beat their chests are actually living off of the legacy that other, greater people built. Our politicians who are elected by the citizens no longer run the government; the industrial bourgeoisie do. While criticizing countries who follow Sharia law and deny their citizens democracy, the American Congress is passing or striking down laws on women’s health and marriage equality based solely on their support for Christian values. Back in the day, they passed laws on moral reasons and lived by one of the founding fathers Thomas Jefferson’s clear statement on how religious belief shouldn’t affect secular legislation. In terms of governing, checks and balances were created to keep every authority figure on their toes, not to step on each other’s feet. Who people voted for was not a matter of entrenched political parties and no one felt the need to put the “libertarian” label on a fiscally undecided and morally liberal candidate. Even in the 60s people were more interested in the Kennedy assassination than they were in knowing if Marilyn Monroe called Jackie Kennedy to give her condolences.
Before this generation, a representative such as Allen West from Florida would not be able to speak of the words “I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool” or a governor like Andre Bauer would not be able to get away with his comment “My grandmother was not a highly educated woman but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why, because they breed” while referring to citizens living below the poverty line.
All these, all of these terrible changes in the citizenry are hurting out democracy and they’ve occurred because we’ve stopped calling out the politicians on their shit. We no longer have Cronkites to defeat McCarthys, since most of the great potential gets eaten by a corporate media concerned with money, not truth. The worst is that so few seem to care or even believe they should care about this loss but instead choose to look up what Nicki Minaj has tweeted to Taylor Swift. It is horrifying how much has slipped past the attention of this nation’s youth and continues to do so.
At schools, we’re still taught that Nixon’s Watergate scandal was the height of corruption when dozens of incidents far worse have happened since then. We still associate people with their Party’s ideologies even though it can lead to false consensus on both sides; like Obama signing more repeals for federal gun laws in his first two years in office than George W. Bush did in his two terms while simultaneously calling for more legislation, legislation he’d gotten rid of personally. Misleading, isn’t it?
Most of the pro-small government youth is not even aware of this fact nor will they ever be considering how they comfortable they’ve gotten with their “Thanks Obama” hashtag. In the same way, they’ve never stopped to ask whether terrorism is a religious issue or a problem with dangerous psychopaths.
It is easy to settle for simple answers to bigger questions and that’s why that’s why lazy people do it so often. This generation of American youth has been lazy and blissfully ignorant. As a US citizen myself, my concern doesn’t lie with not being the number one nation anymore by whatever standard, we lost our place there long ago. My fear, the thing that keeps me awake sometimes, is that with all this passivity how will we ever stop the freefall? What happens when the trust fund runs out?