We have to use blog #4 to catalog our reactions to Fareed Zakaria’s article “What If America’s Best Days are Behind Us?” First of all, I noticed that this essay is about two years old and things are actually worse now. We narrowly missed voting into presidential office a man who puts religion and money above any other priorities, so apparently America is already screwed beyond hope. I think the warning and cautionary tone of Zakaria’s essay comes far too late. This Titanic has sailed.
Our Congress is hopeless. As I write this, they’ve gone for August recess. The last vote they took before fleeing was an attempt to repeal Obamacare. It was their fortieth attempt, all failed. Even though the Republicans don’t have the two-thirds majority required to appeal a law(yes, it’s the law of the land), they have held repeal votes forty times. If by some miracle they did pass the repeal, the president would veto the repeal and the law would still stand. There is no good reason for these legislators to keep doing this. What are the bills they could have been trying to pass in the meantime? A Jobs Act might have been nice. An Immigration Reform Act passed by the senate currently sits in the house and has gotten no action. How about approving a budget? Confirming some of the president’s appointees? All of this goes undone because of ideological roadblock.
I wonder what would be happening if a progressive liberal were in the White House? Maybe it comes as a shock to some people that I would say this, but that man in the White House is not terribly progressive. He’s come so far back towards the center in trying to compromise with the “no compromise” party, that he’s almost leaning right. The man who white middle America fears as the socialist muslim apocalypse proposed tens of billions of dollars of cuts to Medicare. And the Tea Party still won’t compromise!
I don’t want to go on in this vein, so let’s look at some of Zakaria’s other reasoning. It’s painful to get compared to other countries that are doing things right because Americans will never accept that we can learn from anyone else. This seems like another hopeless crusade on his part. Zakaria may be more optimistic than me, but I just don’t see the U.S. applying economic lessons from other nations. We’re too prideful and arrogant. When you even bring up any constructive criticisms of America to some people they just react like you’re bashing America. Anything slightly positive is heaped with scorn. The first thing some of our reaction blogs have been saying is “who does this Zakaria think he is?” This shows me the minds are closed.
Can they be reopened? Again, Zakaria sounds a little bit more hopeful than I feel when he says that Americans have always pressed forward in the past and not let themselves get overly satisfied with where they were at. To me, the current climate doesn’t feel like that. Instead, I think we have a lot of sub-Americas happening. Every group has their own view of this country that only vaguely resembles the view of another. Whenever I hear statements like “take this country back!”, I wonder what country they’re referring to. It seems to me like a creeping nostalgia for a place that never really existed except in people’s imagination.
It’s funny how Zakaria sneaks the founding fathers in towards the end of the article. I think most of them were just there at the time for the free port and ale. A bunch of drunk white guys flipping off King George then going “Oh, fuck! What are we going to do now?” Just kidding, I love those guys. But the way they’ve been deified, particularly by the right wing, just seems strange to me. They were men of their time. Men who lived, partied, had some good ideas and died centuries ago. The words that they wrote back then were never meant to be set in stone. The Constitution itself was imagined as a living document. Hell, they were changing it within days! And this country, America, was more of a fluid concept than a rigid nation. It was imagined and designed that way. The fathers wanted the country to keep evolving and to let current ideas guide it forward. Not to be bound by the past and never deviating from the words set down two hundred plus years ago. It was to be a place where no one would ever be ostracized for having a different belief. And a place where people of conscience could overcome their personal differences to work for the common good.
Is it still working that way? Did it ever, or have we been fooling ourselves all along? Has the great “American Experiment” come to its end?
Well, I had a much better conclusion of this blog before. But somehow when I thought I was posting it, I ended up losing the last two hundred words of it instead. I got all eloquent about Jefferson and Adams and stuff, and I just can’t recreate that magic. Sorry about that. I really didn’t enjoy this assignment very much. It made me think about current politics, which is very depressing.
Yesterday, I did another blog that’s kind of a weird parody one that’s not really appropriate for this homework. Of course, I’m still going to post it, but I’ll wait until Monday so it can’t be mistaken for the actual blog #4. If anyone was offended by this one, just wait for Monday!
898 words; 9:05 PM, 8/3/13