The United States is Crumbling
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the United States of America is collapsing in front of our eyes and we don’t care. We’ve accepted it. Somewhere along the way, we decided that we can’t fix problems and the country is what it is. We skim through horrible news daily and just shrug our shoulders, signaling resignation. Meanwhile, our country inches closer to fascism and authoritarianism daily because we fail to take action.
It’s time we reckon with the country we’ve built. It’s not in a good place and we risk losing everything if we don’t alter the path we are on.
Mass Shootings Have Become Commonplace
The latest mass shooting was at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado. One student was killed and eight others were injured. This shooting was not deadly enough to be the lead story on a lot of websites and in newspapers. Life went on as normal. This is the state we are in.
Mass shootings happen so regularly that we are numb to them, even those that take place at a school. There have been fifteen shootings at schools this year already. This particular school had students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade. It was only a few days earlier that a gunman killed two and injured another four at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. It’s legitimately difficult to keep up with all of these at this point.
Most of us probably read the headlines and a few blurbs on our smartphone before scrolling to a useless tweet or meme. We’re checked out. Social media has allowed us to quickly move on and not feel bad about anything for too long. Ironically, it’s also that same social media that has led to increased depression, anxiety, loneliness, and extremism. Many gunmen experience a lot of this. Tie that together with our lax gun law and this is the result.
Instead of our politicians and government doing literally anything to solve this crisis, they have offered up thoughts and prayers. We now instead have school children practice active shooter drills. We have instilled on our kids that this is normal and just a part of life. It’s sick to think about. More children have died in school shootings than U.S. troops in combat over the last three years. Watch this young child on CNN below explain how he was ready to attack the shooter if he needed to. He’s twelve years old.
Gun control alone will not fix this problem, which makes this all more depressing. We need massive investment in education, guidance counseling, mental health services, and so much more. We will get none of that in this country without radical change.
Chaos at The Border
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard non-stop for four years now about the mass influx of migrants at the southern border. It is true that more and more people are attempting to come to America. This is not an invasion. These are families fleeing very dangerous circumstances from Latin American countries and we are ill prepared to handle them.
The current President lies daily about what is happening at the border, which only exacerbates the problem. He tells his cult-like followers that we are under attack and gang members are pouring over the border. That’s just not true. Meanwhile, we are locking up women and children in cages because there is no leadership or a plan to handle this influx of asylum seekers.
The United States has meddled in Latin American politics for decades which has certainly contributed to the problems they are experiencing. We should accept some of that responsibility by creating a humane and easy system to give a chance for migrants to claim asylum in America. Instead, we are building more open-air prisons and separating families.
President Trump’s rhetoric has also fueled some people to a whole new level. There are now militias forming at the border to capture and detain people who have crossed the border. These anti-immigrant groups are extremely dangerous. One recent militia member, Armando Gonzalez recently said, “ Why are we just apprehending them and not lining them up and shooting them? We have to go back to Hitler days and put them all in a gas chamber.”
Honestly, this isn’t even surprising to anyone who has been paying attention. Trump pushes the line a little farther every day. At a recent campaign rally in Florida, Trump sarcastically said that we can’t let border patrol agents use weapons but that other countries do. He then asks how can we stop them? An audience member responds with “Shoot them!”. Again, not a shock to anyone paying attention. Trump decides to laugh at the thought of shooting refugees and makes a joke. The crowd erupted in laughter. Truly sinister.
We’re headed down a dark path when it comes to immigration and refugees at the border. It will only get worse unless we confront racism and xenophobia head-on.
America has anticipated the release of the Mueller Report since the investigation began and a redacted version has finally been released. First, the Attorney General had to put the narrative out there that the President was fully exonerated. However, we now know that it not the case. Robert Mueller explicitly does not exonerate Trump but took the view that the Department of Justice could not indict a sitting President and leaves it up to Congress. He also points out that Trump is not safe after he leaves the office. The report reveals that Trump almost certainly obstructed justice numerous times.
After William Barr testified before them, Congress decided to hold Barr in contempt. The administration has prevented the Democrats from doing any sort of oversight on the executive branch. They have blocked subpoenas, some witnesses have refused to testify, and rejected lawful requests for Trump’s tax returns. Trump has also used executive privilege to prohibit Democrats in the House from seeing the full Mueller report and any underlying evidence. This seems quite odd for somebody who did nothing wrong.
Trump and the Republican party are essentially defying democracy. They are breaking all of the norms of government and no longer see the branches of government as equal. They blatantly disregard rules and requests and attempt to get away with anything that they can. This isn’t just Trump, either. We can look back to events like Mitch McConnell refusing to give Merrick Garland a hearing in the Senate for the vacant Supreme Court. Trump is now testing the limits daily. And quite frankly, he’s getting away with a lot of it.
The threat to democracy is everywhere. We now face mass voter suppression in many states across the country. Gerrymandering is preventing fair representation. Trump is appointing radical conservative judges to the courts at a blistering pace, which will haunt this country for years to come.
The fight to take abortion rights away from women is already underway. Three different states have already passed so-called “heartbeat laws” which outlaws abortions after six weeks. This is basically a ban on all abortions since a lot of the time, women do not even realize they are pregnant at six weeks. This is a coordinated effort to force a court case up to the Supreme Court, where a conservative court could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade permanently.
The Threat of War
There is also the looming threat of war in multiple parts of the world. Although Trump campaigned against entering wars, he has managed to appoint people to important national defense positions that love it. John Bolton led the charge to go into Iraq and it’s been his lifelong dream to start a war with Iran. We have shown aggression towards Iran since day one of the Trump administration. The withdrawal from President’s Obama’s agreement with Iran was a devastating blow to anyone interested in peace. We then followed that up with crippling sanctions. Iran is now being pushed to the edge by the United States. One false move by Iran and we could be ready for a full-scale bombing or invasion.
Back in our hemisphere, Venezuela is in crisis. The United States has decided to endorse a coup there as Juan Guaido, an assemblyman declared himself the rightful President instead of Nicolas Maduro. This is an absurd premise on its face. Of course, this plan is not working very well at the moment. Guaido attempted multiple times to get the Military to turn on Maduro but he has been unsuccessful. Many Venezuelans remain loyal to the current President despite the high inflation and crippling poverty.
The thought in America is that socialism ruined Venezuela but that’s not the full story. Yes, there are is corruption within the Venezuelan government but it’s not exactly socialistic policies that have led to the crisis. The United States has placed heavy sanctions year after year on them. They have been cut off from many countries across the world. The United States has also backed coups there since 2002 creating instability. In the end, it is the poorer Venezuelans that suffer. The evil Elliott Abrams has also returned, alongside John Bolton threatening war in Venezuela. Let’s hope it doesn’t reach that point.
In addition to these threats, Americans have to deal with issues that affect their lives daily. It’s a lot to juggle. Here are some of the sobering problems we face today.
- Over 30 million Americans don’t have health insurance and the number is increasing yearly due to Trump’s dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.
- Climate change is threatening the planet and half of our federally elected officials refuse to acknowledge that it is even real. The United Nations released a biodiversity report warning 1 million species face extinction. Major news organizations failed to even report on this.
- We face crippling debt — student loans ($1.5 Trillion), credit cards ($4 Trillion), auto loans ($1.3 Trillion), etc.
- Our wages are stagnant and income and wealth inequality are at all-time highs. The richest 1% of households hold 40% of the wealth.
- Almost 40 million Americans live in poverty.
- We have the highest incarceration rates in the world, especially in southern states.
- Hate crimes have increased every year that Trump has been in office.
- Thanks to drug overdoses and suicides, life expectancy is now falling in the United States.
- Transgender Americans are no longer allowed to serve in the military.
- Our personal data is being used any way that Facebook wants.
- The alt-right and white nationalists have increasing power because law enforcement neglected to combat it. Now, they don’t know how to stop it.
- African Americans and other minorities still face systemic discrimination in housing, criminal justice, education, and in the workplace.
The list goes on but you get the idea. We’re facing an astronomical number of problems and it’s not going to be easy to solve them.
It’s Time to Wake Up
We need everyone to start paying attention, yesterday. We seem to be throwing in the towel. American democracy is going down without a whimper. Americans are stuck in their own world and there is no longer a sense of community.
We resort to our smartphones and Netflix and avoid thinking about the problems we face as a nation. The truth is that a lot of these problems were already brewing before Donald Trump was elected President. He just illuminated a lot of it.
People who say “I don’t care for politics” are complicit in the death of our democracy. If more people don’t begin to care, then we are fucked.
America has two major political parties. One of those parties, the Republicans are on a mission to radically change everything in this country. This mission didn’t just start either. There has been an effort over the last three or four decades to limit the power of average Americans. They do this through deregulation, gutting social programs, union busting, cutting taxes for the wealthy and big corporations, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and ignoring the norms of democracy. Big donors, like the Koch brothers fund organizations, to influence the public and politicians.
This isn’t to let the Democrats off the hook. Although they are nowhere near as evil as the Republicans, they have failed to defend from these attacks over the same time period. Instead of fighting for the policies that they claim to support, they have settled on compromising on mostly conservative legislation. If you look back on policies passed under President Clinton, you would think he was a staunch Republican. The Democratic party has only paid lip service to its core members. They have stood by as unions are dismantled and teachers are paid low wages. They’ve done nothing to address education costs, climate change, or stagnant wages. Instead, they have shifted right along with the Republicans. The center is now right-wing.
I am begging people to wake up. This isn’t your father’s Republican party. They are extremists attempting to thwart our democracy. We need movements of people to fight back. We need to also elect politicians who provide an alternate path or vision. Electing status quo politicians will only delay our reckoning briefly.
We don’t have to live in a country that accepts mass shootings as normal or a country where the people go bankrupt because they become ill. We don’t need to live in a country where people have to work multiple jobs to get by. We don’t have to accept our planet perishing because a select number of people want to continue making profits.
Use your voice at the polls and in the streets. Volunteer for local, state, and federal candidates or run for office yourself! Join and participate in organizations fighting for economic, environmental, racial, and social justice. Sitting around doing nothing isn’t good enough anymore. I also was complacent for too long. I’m ready to fight and I want others to join me in stopping this slide into darkness before it’s too late.