Our country was kicked in the balls last Friday by Standard and Poor's downgrade of our credit status as a country. Were still at AA plus which isn't too bad (seems to work okay for New Zealand), and the other international credit agencies still have us at a AAA status. So no, it's not an instant thunderous crash to national bankruptcy. But it is a slap in the mouth that the United States cannot afford to ignore, and it signals the need to stop our idiotic family feud that has made us the laughingstock of the international community. This stupid liberal versus conservative nonsense will literally destroy us as a nation if we keep going down this fool’s path. No more fighting over the wheel while we are around so many icebergs.
I will confess to being guilty of adding my own fuel to the fire in the form of things that I've written in the past and the times when my mood and sensibilities make me feel compelled to add my opinion to the mix. I have very close and deep-seated beliefs politically, and in the last 15 or so years I felt the need to take sides against what I saw as a movement to turn the United States into a fascist theocracy. But on the other side of the fence, there was no doubt conservative counterparts to myself who felt the same way. They saw my side of the argument as being for some kind of Marxist/Communist takeover of our beloved democracy. Well I am here to tell you my friends, the egg has been on both of our faces because neither argument bears out the true facts.
And those diehard, like it or not facts are this: both of our sides are right, and both of our sides are wrong. And they're a lot of places of agreement that we have that never seem to make the airwaves that are full of the hot air that keep both of us at each other's throats. We are being divided and conquered by our very selves. Never before in the history of nations has there been a time when a country willfully destroyed itself from the inside out as we seem fixated upon doing. The only way to find ourselves out of this and back to where we belong is the hurry up and find out where we agree and go from there. Through talking and research, I myself find quite a few points that I'd like to share right now, and I'm sure other thinking people could come up with even more.
- Both of us love this country immensely, and both are dedicated to its original ideals of liberty and equality.
- Neither of us want the legitimately needy should be completely without a social safety net to catch them when there's no one else to turn to.
- Both of us believe in the freedom of the individual, and the notion that through hard work and perseverance, they can make their life better through their own means.
- Your real-life typical conservative would be the first person in the room to knock a man's teeth out should he suggest the United States follow the path anywhere close to that of Nazi Germany.
- Your real-life typical liberal would be the first person in the room to tell a Leninist or Maoist to sit down and shut up should they start spouting off red communist nonsense.
- The wing nuts on both sides, the extremist freaks that is, make up a small percentage of either side’s overall camp. But just as the crazy yelling homeless man sitting in the back of a city bus, they somehow get all of the attention and are labeled the "typical conservative” or "typical liberal/progressive”.
- In our own families, there are people we love with all our hearts who are of opposite political affiliation, and it doesn't matter one bit to us.
- Neither side wants to watch the beauty of nature destroyed.
- Both of our sides listen to Led Zeppelin and Johnny Cash.
- Both of our camps were devastated at the loss of life during the September 11 attacks that seem to be the catalyst for our new mindset as a nation.
And these are just 10 that I could pull out of my head right now. As far apart as our ideologies may seem sometimes, they are just different roads to the same destination that both sides want. A peaceful and secure place to raise our kids where freedom of the individual and the freedom to navigate one's life as they see fit is the kind of country we all want for ourselves and each other. I don't think we ever needed to be a superpower, and should that status ever go away, our innermost values as Americans won't permit us to miss it very much. Sure we are competitive as a culture, but we are also disarmingly laid-back when the situation allows for it.
Digging ourselves out of this hole that we fought ourselves and to won't be easy. But the first step would be to turn off that damn noise and start talking to each other as people and communities. This is how our country started. Ideas were shared, compromises were made, and a unified 13 colonies rose up against an apparent juggernaut and sent it packing across the Atlantic. In 2011, another wolf is at the gate, and we ourselves put it there. The noise put it there. The noise I'm talking about is from the mouths of people who profit in our conflict with each other. Media figures like Limbaugh, Maddow, Beck, Olbermann, Hannity, and Maher have told us what to think about the other side and have warned us of the danger in their ultimate victory. All of them are full of shit. Because there is no ultimate victory, we live in a republic. The founders of this country set it up to where one side doesn't really have enough time at the helm to screw things up so badly that they can't be fixed. Our history shows this time and time again.
The next step would be to go back to our roots as a democratic republic and give the states more of the authority that has seemed to slip away from them over time, more so since the Great Depression. Let "red states" be red states, and let "blue states" be blue states. If it's not in the Constitution, then it goes to the states, period. I have my own feelings on abortion that I won't share here, but it is not mentioned in the Constitution. That means it should be a state issue, and if the residents of that state disagree, then there are plenty of other states who feel the same way they do where they can move. This is just one example of a single issue that both sides seem to have a disconnect on that can be completely nullified by just giving the authority to the individual states. Sure this might result in a mass migration to and from the different states that seem to jibe within individuals own value system, but in the long run it would be for the best. Because I feel that we could better come to mutual agreement a lot easier if everyone felt they were permitted to live the way they saw fit to live.
The third step would be to end both of these idiotic useless wars that we have entangled ourselves in and have not made us any bit safer than we were on 10 September 2001. 10 years, guys. Time’s up. These operations are money pits that are making us broker by the day to the tune of about $1 billion a week. We went about this stupidly in that we did not raise taxes to accommodate a 10 year war, and in fact we lowered taxes for the highest income brackets during a time when we apparently needed more laser guided smart bombs than usual. This was a dumb move. Both sides need to acknowledge this as it is a major contributor to both our deficits and our debts.
The fourth step has to be a combination of both real spending cuts and real tax increases. We need to find every able-bodied person that is on the welfare rolls unneededly and cut them off. Our recent actions against illegal immigrants means that there are a lot of fruit picking jobs out there. From here on out, anyone caught trying to get federal funds as a source of workless income should be charged with a crime. Then they can go to jail and pick fruit. At the same time, the upper income brackets need to start paying their fair share in the form of taxes and realize that the tax break they got from Bush came with a heavy price that they need to help repay. Their luxury came at all of our expense, but we should withhold our anger and trust them to do the right thing for the sake of the country that gave them the freedom to be so successful.
The fifth, final, and most difficult step would be for the United States to completely purge its government of every single last sitting congressperson, senator, and president that is currently holding office right now. They are responsible for fanning this flame we have found ourselves in with their snake oil salesman promises every few years that none of them ever keep. To my conservative friends I pose this question: for eight years you had the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government in your control. Why is abortion still legal? To my liberal friends I ask this question: we had both houses of Congress and shiny bright new young president for two years. Why is our concentration camp in Guantánamo Bay still open? All of them need to go. And they need to be replaced with people who have proven track records of making a difference for the better in their communities. Whether they be respected deacons of the church in the more conservative districts, or a devoted activist and progressive thinker in the more liberal ones, we have to start electing people who we can believe in by their actions and not just their words from now on.
I know that I am just a blogger with a modest audience in my own little corner of the Internet, but being outside of my country looking in, my heart aches sometimes. And it is ached for a long time. The pain started when I saw people jumping for their lives out of the windows of the World Trade Center, it started to hurt worse when I saw our clumsy and misdirected response, and the knowledge that we violated our own treaties by utilizing torture on prisoners was what made me too angry to stay on American soil anymore. But most of the people I love are still there, as is my deepest ingrained cultural identity. I will always be an American, no matter where I decide to hang my hat. I believe in freedom and a hand of friendship extended to all who will shake it. But the mother country really needs to get it's shit together....