So you really want to know what’s wrong with America?
Okay, I’ll tell you.
But you have to do me two favors.
First, I respectfully request that you put aside any preconceived notions you might have about my agenda.
I’ll tell you right up front. My agenda is to get Americans to stop thinking the way they’ve been tricked into thinking.
You see, I used to have an ideology and strong political leanings.
Now my ideology conforms to the real world, as opposed to the tyranny of magical thinking, and my political leanings shift against the ill winds of stale rhetoric. In other words, I am a realist.
Second (and this is a huge favor), as you read this, pretend you don’t have any ideology, any political leanings, or any opinions.
Okay, ready? Here it is.
What’s wrong with America is that too many Americans don’t think for themselves anymore.
Not that it’s their fault. Most of us have been deluded. Not brainwashed… more like lobotomized.
We’ve been lied to, again and again and again. Lied to by self-righteous poseur Americans who want to divide us into believers and nonbelievers, free market capitalists and socialists, Republicans and Democrats, red states and blue states; because either you’re an American or you’re un-American.
They put it to you like this: You’re either with “us” or against us.
Who are these ugly Americans that are lying to us and dividing us, and why are they doing it?
They are our leaders (and our would-be leaders). They are our legislators.
We have ceded the American spirit of democracy and free thinking to the government we created, and to sycophant wannabe politicians who pander to the partisan corners they push us into. We have become their pawns.
Why do they do it? For the power – the power to make money, lots and lots of money.
Why do we do it? We are fools and believe them. We don’t believe in them, but too many of us believe what they want us to believe they stand for.
And that is the problem.
They don’t stand for what you think they stand for. What’s worse is, that means some of you may not stand for what you think you stand for.
We’ve been thrown.
Politicians are jujitsu masters, flipping their positions as they shake our hands and flip us on our backs, until we don’t know which way is up and who stands for what.
That’s how they like us – dazed and confused, and all riled-up and ready to kill each other for what we stand for, for their agendas, not ours.
Okay, now, here’s where I’m going to need you to drop any ideology or political leanings you might have.
Let me show you how we’ve been flipped around by the jujitsu moves of both Democrats and Republicans, and why it’s hard for anyone to think clearly on their own.
Almost 30 years of “conservative ascendancy” from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush got us to where we are today. (Stop right there. If you’re thinking I’m going to bash Republicans and you’re getting defensive, or you’re thinking I’m going to bash Republicans and you’re hoping I go on the offensive… you’re wrong.)
It is what it is.
“Free Market” deregulatory zeal stripped prudent regulations from the books of law that governed our history of capitalism.
I say “our history” because our particular regulations and laws only came into being in reaction to fraud and manipulation that exposed the darker side of self-aggrandizement in our system of free market capitalism.
It is what it is.
But here’s the first “I got you,” “No, I’ve got you,” political jujitsu move.
A free-for-all bacchanal, replete with financial whores, ravaged the American economy by leveraging the largest field-bet ever: the American Dream, home ownership.
Everyone gorged themselves. There were no innocents.
And when we realized how the “system” we coveted had run amok, which we were all mostly responsible for, we cut short the ascendency of greed and voted “for change.”
To be fair, I was a fool smitten with the notion that real change was possible, and I backed it.
Flip number one (in this jujitsu jamboree) was that, immediately upon the ascendancy of Barack Obama, Democrats started to act like Republicans by kow-towing to banks and big business.
Talk about change…
The truth about “change” in the Democratic Party is that Democrats have now gotten rich playing the game, and they kind of like that change in their fortunes.
The dilemma for Democrat leadership is how can they be the party for the people if they are no longer of the people? Well, as they say in Brooklyn, fugghetaboutit! Follow the money.
How else can anyone explain why a president with a worldwide mandate to fix the incredulously large hole in American financial services – which bled the entire (new) Old World like some leech-sucking medieval prescription – would choose to champion healthcare instead of immediately triaging the patient in intensive care?
The Republicans, for their part, want us to believe that utopian capitalism was mowed- down in its adolescence, and if we only double-down now, the Holy Trinity of deregulation, limited government, and free markets will make the rich richer and the poor less poor.
It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs, and jujitsu.
How else can Tea Party neophytes, waving the banner of conservative Republicanism, rail against bailouts, when their deregulated institutions buggered free markets, and cry rape even before new rules (which are nothing more than the old rules rewritten) deflower their moneymaking schemes?
How else could liberal Democrats have embraced Wall Street salesmen like Larry Summers, Ben Bernanke, and Tim Geithner in a “group hug” of change America can believe in?
Because… in this flipped-around world, the right becomes the left, and the left becomes the right.
And we’re left on our backs trying to figure out which end is up.
It’s about the synergy of profits and politics. It’s about the money, stupid.
It’s about us not realizing that politicians get rich by dividing us.
Absolutism is the only sure road to all or nothing. And there is no “all.”
If you and I want to fix what’s wrong with America, we can start by not being resolute about any politician’s 100% all-or-nothing prescription for what ails us. We need to demand that our rhetoric-spewing so-called leaders compromise to build workable bridges across the divide that separates us from getting back to being America.
And if we can stop believing in our own self-righteous blind faith, maybe we can see for ourselves how we are part of the problem.
You’re either with me or you’re not… (That’s a joke!)
P.S. GO GIANTS!