Who are we? I have come to the conclusion we don’t know. Are we the face of democracy that helped to save Europe and the Pacific Rim in WWII? Are we the cold war patriarch that protected the world from communist expansion? Are we the “Evil Empire” intent on imposing our will on the rest of the world? Are we a has been crippled by political correctness and civility? I don’t know, and I don’t think we as a nation know. There is no philosophy or goal to rally behind. There is no leader to promote a national vision. We truly are a ship with no rudder.
We can’t lay claim to the face of democracy, and we certainly are not the same country that won WWII. The people of this country have no say in their city or county governments let alone the state or federal level. Much of the reason they have no say is their own fault. Americans in general don’t bother to educate themselves on the issues or political candidates. Many Americans don’t register to vote, and often don’t vote even if they are registered. It is not entirely the citizen’s fault, however, because the government and media really don’t want the average citizen to stick their nose in. The politicians are too busy striking deals to vote for what is best for the people, and the media is too busy making money to worry about informing the public on the issues of the day. The result is a government agenda aimed at enriching the politicians rather than positioning the country for the future, and a media that will not bring up certain issues, and will not cover certain candidates.
Throughout the cold war America was the leader much of the rest of the world looked to, to limit communist expansion. We became the world’s policeman. We sacrificed our blood and treasure around the world in the name of freedom. Of course that led too much of the world feeling like we were trying to impose our values on them. Is this role still needed? Many would say no. I am not sure of the answer to that question. Until 9/11 I felt communism was dead. I’m not trying to imply communism was somehow responsible for that terrible day, but the evidence is pretty well documented that a lot of the organized opposition to the Iraq war and George Bush’s policies were at the very least funded by communist front groups. It is also worth noting that a majority of the goals the communists established in the early 1960’s for moving America towards communism have been almost completely accomplished.
Much of the world sees us as the “Evil Empire”. Reagan used that Star Wars term to describe the Soviet Union, and it has come full circle. The problem with the imperialist term that gets thrown about is that it implies our friends or countries we bring freedom to are our puppets. There is no doubt we led a lot of countries around by the nose during the cold war, but if they didn’t follow us there was only one other superpower. We were often heavy handed, but from our point of view the end justified the means. The flaw in the argument that America is Imperialistic is that politically the countries where we have brought freedom disagree with us often. The Japanese, Germans, French, even South Koreans disagree with us publicly and make decisions based on what is best for them. Opponents of the U.S., however, will point to worldwide systems that force them to behave a certain way. There is no question we had our way with a lot of international policies and systems. Before we implemented those systems there was nothing, and nothing stops other countries from starting a new system or changing the one in place.
I am worried that our moment in the sun has passed. America got fat and lazy. We came to believe we were superior, and quit doing what it takes to be superior. We started asking the government to take care of us. We started letting the politicians look out for us. We started teaching our children that confrontation was bad. The result is that we are a nation with our hand out. We are a nation left to wonder who is looking out for us. We are a nation afraid to call a spade a spade. We went from a “don’t tell me how to raise my kids” country to an “I’m abusing my kids if I spank them” country. Common sense is out the window and replaced by political correctness.
So what do we do about it? Have we too far gone? I don’t know the answer to those questions. It seems to me we should get back to basics. Our schools should teach about what made our country great. The ideals this country was founded on is a good place to start. What it takes to be a good citizen should be stressed. Reading, writing, and arithmetic seem important as well. Our government should act in our best interest. The interests of our business are important, but without our people our businesses have no interest. Our government should focus on a future that protects the ideals our nation was founded on. Our government should also work hard to involve the citizens. A strong effort to educate people on the political process, explain issues, and stay out of the peoples daily lives might lessen the cynicism that thrives today.
The world has changed dramatically in the 40 short years I have been on this earth. Possibly more change than any 40 year period in world history. Change is not the problem. The problem is we change and respond to change with no focus on the future and the kind of country we want to be. We have left that to the people we elect. The bigger problem is we often elect the lesser of two evils. We vote for those who promise the least pain, in fact, we often vote for those who promise us the most pleasure. Pleasure has a price, and the fee is paid by the taxpayer. There is no free lunch.
Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747–1813) “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
Do we want a government that takes care of us? That means more taxes, less freedom, and a socialist country. Do we want a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? That means individual work, responsibility, and charity. The choice is ours. We will either act now, or find ourselves without a country later.