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Is America Really?


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You read the polls, watch the news, surf the net, it really looks like most Americans are flag-waving, FOX-watching, tongue-speaking evangelical conservatives hellbent on theocracy and kicking some towelhead ass. But is it really true?

 

I come from a very conservative town. Every day I deal with people who are the very definition of "overzealous Christian". But seriously, even out here it's not like it you would expect. Even in this ultraconservative place, there's still a good population of moderate-to-liberal Christians and non-Christians, and politically speaking those who find refuge in the middle and left.

 

To tell you the truth, really I think most people aren't as assheaded as the polls and newscasts indicate. I think the skewing of this information can possibly be explained by this:

 

1. Hypocrisy. But this is a nice hypocrisy, the kind you can live with. It's the kind of hypocrisy that is more than willing to say that homosexual marriage should be outlawed but still doesn't have the guts, nerve, or willpower to really do anything explicitly anti-gay. Or the kind of hypocrisy that on the outside says abortion is a grave sin but on the inside, where no one is willing to say it out loud in church, admits that a poor unwed underage mother probably has a good excuse. A lot of people say things when polled and questioned and interviewed for their opinion, but I find a lot of time what they say and what they really do and think are a lot different.

 

2. Organization and motivation. Let's face it, if you're on the left, you're pretty much on your own. We're a disorganized, ragtag group that's too spread out and careless (really) to match up to their strength. The conservatives and evangelicals gather in large groups with firm leadership telling them precisely what to do in order to promote their agenda. A lefty is more likely to hang up the phone when he or she gets a recorded call from the local news station asking their opinion (to be provided via touchtone), because he or she is more likely to dismiss such things as trivial and pointless (especially considering that it's a part of the shallow media anyway), whereas a rightie will spring into action to spread the conservative gospel, and then call all their friends to tell them to call the news station themselves and tell them what they think so they can get as much coverage as possible. They are truly motivated in their actions. Until recently the political activity of most lefties (if there even was any) was primarily a show of ennui and indifference, that sort of ambivalence that goes along with the rather pessimistic idea that acting all politically aware and shit really doesn't make a difference anyway. They beat us on that one.

 

What do you think?

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did you watch the Borat movie? Rodeo scene?

 

Anyway, my experience is that about 20% of those I know in Idaho are like that. In DC, none. In Seattle, only a small percentage of the older generation. I get the feeling that the more rural and the more south you are, the more you find.

 

If the internet is a clue though, America is full of brash flag waving assholes. Hopefully they make up part of a minority.

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What do you think?

Well, Sage, since you've opened the floodgate of my natural pessimism, here's what I think:

I think that the majority of Americans nowadays are complacent. Much too complacent. As long as they're able to make their mortgage payment, keep their kids clothed by whatever means (and that includes cheap WalMart or whatever), and have their cable TV and cheap beer on weekends, life is good. The future will take care of itself. That's the attitude.

 

But their are changes in the offing. The American economy could collapse...after all, we're fighting a war in essence on a Visa card that is being underwritten by the Chinese, whose economy is booming, and thanks to Dubya's great adventures, the national debt is ballooning by the minute. If the creditors call the marker home, America will turn to shit. All it would take for example is for OPEC to change from the dollar to the euro as the "oil currency".

The country is being overrun by illegal immigrants. Their numbers are becoming "decisive". American middle-class livelihoods are being "outsourced", mostly to Asia. We have entitlement programs in place that were enacted 40-70 years ago that will become due to a generation of baby-boomers in the next decade or two with no visible means to finance them save with more borrowing, higher taxes or a drastic curtailment of benefits, all of which would be politically off the table.

The new "service" economy lumbers on, creating a few jobs here and there as salespersons, waiters, domestics, and so on, while real careers are being created overseas, waiting for outsourcing entrepreneurs. Real careers in America are uncertain. Manufacturing? Forget it. The once mighty American electronics industry is gone. (The name RCA is basically a trademark for Asian-made TVs.) So is steel. The American automobile industry, once the envy of the world, is in trouble. General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler are all big time money losers in the modern age.

Globalization was fed to a generation as the key to more consumer goods at a lower price. And it was supported on both sides of the political isle. What that propaganda story really meant was that America was to become a new generation of middle-men, agents for global corporatization, selling products made with overseas labor to Americans whose factories had closed down and whose careers had disappeared, unless you've a passion for chain-store pizza and fried chicken franchising.

We as Americans continue to parrot the "Land of the free and the home of the brave" line and wave our flags. But America is declining. We are no longer free, we are a people subject to government monitoring by whatever technologies our taxes pay to keep us under wraps, and we are "brave" only to the extent that we are willing to put our young on the sacrificial altar of neoconservatism and imperialism as we maintain a veneer of "superpower" status. Dies somebody out there know something that "we the people" don't?

How many wars have we really won since 1946? And of those wars that we haven't won, including the most recent in Iraq, how many of them should we ever have gotten involved in in the first place? What did we get in return for all that investment of money and human beings?

 

We worry ourselves over the ambiguity of global warming as the US becomes overrun with illegal immigrants and the most commonly assigned name to male babies in Europe is "Mohammed". Message: It doesn't do any good to consider how to drain the swamp when you're already up to your ass in alligators.

 

Or maybe I just read too much of Paul Craig Roberts...

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Or maybe I just read too much of Paul Craig Roberts...

 

I don't think you're too far off.

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Well, Sage, since you've opened the floodgate of my natural pessimism, here's what I think:

I think that the majority of Americans nowadays are complacent. Much too complacent. As long as they're able to make their mortgage payment, keep their kids clothed by whatever means (and that includes cheap WalMart or whatever), and have their cable TV and cheap beer on weekends, life is good. The future will take care of itself. That's the attitude.

 

I think that too, and that elaborates on my original post: The righties and neo-cons feel called by God to be active as possible, the rest of America is just too damned entranced by American Idol to really stop them.

 

There's nothing quite so frustrating than listening to people bitch about the government, economy, civil rights, war and peace, etc. and then refuse to vote or write letters because "it doesn't make a difference anyway". That's like being inside your own burning house and refusing to get out of it because you'll just buy another house anyway.

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