A Reflection: Son Of America
A quirky diatribe on modern day neoliberal politics and how a young boy offers hope.
I was sitting with a friend as I sat for a drink to catch up with her, between each sip and conversation we would check our iPhones almost religiously in cadence. As I scrolled in Facebook a photo of an old friend popped up with him embracing his son who appeared not a day over seven. His countenance was happy and I couldn’t help but wonder — what is the America his son will grow up in?
An America that elected a puppet “caudillo” with no clarity on any issue, with legislatures that are hell bent on completing the neoliberal “wet dream” of privatization in many aspects that affect his son’s life. Policies of self-interest which will inevitably make it tougher for him to succeed and this disturbed me.
Whatever happened to caring for one another? Isn’t that an American virtue? Instead in a digital age spoon fed by algorithms tuned to our self-interest we fixate our attention on salacious rhetoric and cat videos, all things that are aberrations from what America should be striving to achieve. An America who should value being the leader in internet access for all, where public education is our strongest military asset, and finance is an instrument of equality not just compound interest for the elite. Do you think Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury and banker compatriot, could even fathom a credit default swap?
Our focus should be what we are leaving for posterity, not just our individual family, and if we follow the lead of the Trumps and Ryans of the world, perverted by their own conflicts of self-interests, our “great union” will deteriorate over time. In essence, our modern day Caligula has arrived.
The reality of America is that it’s frail, it’s an infant with growing pains, whose lifecycle is a blink of an eye in comparison to the Roman’s 1,500 year reign. We have put humans on other celestial bodies, sent probes to explore the farthest reaches of our galaxy yet we squabble to feed the poorest in our country.
We create divisive systems of inequality that profit off the desire to seek an education, visit our doctors for a checkup, or even expand a football stadium as the average American struggles to pay for their bare necessities. These systems take generations and administrations to rectify, putting back the fabric holding the American identity together that they have dismantled.
For the first time in modern American history many feel they are not better off than their parents; almost reminiscent of the Depression era, a time when many of the safety nets and values/virtues we exalt today were born. Social Security, Medicare, funding for infrastructure projects, regulation of the banking industry, which fathered the FDIC and the SEC, all came at this time of crisis.
If you want to imagine a world without The New Deal you only need to read your Facebook feed at this very moment. Listen to the rhetorical upchuck of Congressman Paul Ryan whose sole mission in life is to not care about you at all, and who probably masturbates to chapters of Atlas Shrugged as Ayn Rand Youtube clips play in the background before he gives speeches. With the coming “kleptocracy” of the Trump administration, the malaise that many Americans feel is understandable, and I hope contrary to what the Simpson’s predicted.
The truth is all empires rise and fall, it’s inevitable, but that doesn’t mean this objective reality should pervert our sense of helping others. Imagine an America where my friend’s son can grow up and be offered a free multilingual public education all the way through college? A world class education that prepares him to start his own company, become the next Jackson Pollack, or make Ben Carson appear as a novice brain surgeon as much as he is truly a novice politician. He can be whatever he wants — that liberty is the essence of America and the taxes we pay is an investment in his future and for that I’d be happy to pay a premium.
The state, city and neighborhood his son will grow up in I know very well. Texas, possibly intentionally spelt with the “e” and “a” transposed for contempt, almost annually cuts funding for public education and is ranked one of the lowest in education spending in America.
All this despite if it were a sovereign country would have a larger GDP than Mexico and many singular European countries. The city his son will grow up in displays a colorful past; San Antonio was founded over 150 years before any major city in Texas yet is one of the leaders in inequality for an American city. Interstate highways, created under executive order by Eisenhower due to his influences in Germany during WWII, are the demarcation lines of wealth and race throughout the city.
Where some chide its lack of a grid system I see an exhibit of a proud past, a time erased by Anglo-colonization yet predated with cultura, leyendas and seminal American influences. The Spanish missions dot the landscape and represent, unofficially accepted, the first public schools in America where Spanish parishioners educated and proselytized the native Coahuiltecans. This history of diversity exemplifies why his son is the future, in his sangre lays the connections to other cultures that defy time, borders and subvert oppression. A hermosa lineage that I hope he takes with him no matter where goes. Within it is the American truth. That there is no absolute and whose identity is malleable to the changing world. A country, like his future, with endless possibilities.