Friday, November 11, 2016

I'm ashamed of my country

I'm still in shock after the election Tuesday. I've been pinching myself black and blue, but I can't seem to wake up from this nightmare.

But no, I can't joke about this. For the first time in my life, I'm ashamed to be an American. I am deeply, deeply ashamed of America, and I don't see how I'll ever again think of America the way I used to. I don't see how I'll recover from this.

Even worse, I don't see how we'll recover from this.

In 1972, at the height of the Vietnam War, I visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. When I came downstairs afterwards, the lower floor of the museum was covered with displays comparing America - specifically, Richard Nixon's carpet bombing of Cambodia - with Nazi Germany.

That was definitely a surreal experience! But I wasn't ashamed of my country. I opposed Nixon. I was one of the protestors wearing black arm bands when Nixon came to Lincoln in 1971.

(We weren't very sophisticated back then. Everyone wearing a black arm band was directed to seats as far from the Coliseum stage as possible, while Nixon's political operatives chose his enthusiastic fans to sit in front of the cameras.)

When the George W. Bush administration proved to be torturing prisoners of war, I was shocked, horrified, and very, very angry. But I wasn't ashamed of my country. I was embarrassed, yes. But when individual Americans went bad, when our government did something even that profoundly evil, that wasn't America. I knew we were better than that.

Well, I was wrong. On Tuesday, we elected a man who not only promises to start torturing prisoners again, he brags about how he's going to do much worse kinds of torture. And note that this is the same man who said that we should kill the families of terrorists. (Yeah, that would really dissuade you from terrorism, if they murdered your family, huh?)

We are a nation of immigrants who elected a man who deliberately incites anger, suspicion, and hysterical fear of immigrants. (His own wife is an immigrant - two of his three wives, in fact. Trump's own mother was an immigrant, and all four of his grandparents were born in Europe. But they weren't brown people, I guess...)

We are a nation founded on the revolutionary idea of freedom of religion and the strict separation between church and state who elected a man who has proposed a religious litmus test for immigrants and the profiling of American citizens on the basis of their religion. How profoundly un-American!

But that's unconstitutional, you say? Who says? The Supreme Court decides what's constitutional or not, and the Republican Party is already 'saving' a Supreme Court pick for Donald Trump. (That isn't the only way they've been destroying America's centuries-long system of government, either. Far from it!)

In addition, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83 years old. The far-right Republican justices are all only in their 60's, while Stephen Breyer is 78 and Anthony Kennedy, a Republican who has been sane occasionally, is 80.

That's not a coincidence. Recent Republican presidents have made a point of choosing very young justices, so that they can cause damage to America for generations.

Remember, it was the five Republicans on the court, opposed by the four Democrats, who opened up our political system to the highest bidder. It was the five Republicans on the court, opposed by the four Democrats, who gutted the Voting Rights Act, too. This election means that the Supreme Court is lost to sanity for the rest of my life, certainly.

It's done. I'll never live to see a sane Supreme Court again. Voter suppression? We haven't seen anything yet. Legalized bribery of our politicians? Well, it's hard to see how that can get any worse, but it's certainly not going to get any better.

How about state-supported Christian churches? Justice Clarence Thomas already argues for that, freedom of religion be damned. Freedom of speech? Trump himself wants to revise libel laws so that he can punish anyone who criticizes him. How bad can it get? I guess we'll see.

Is this the beginning of the end for America? No, it's not that. The beginning of the end actually started 40-50 years ago, when the Republican Party first adopted its "Southern strategy" of deliberately wooing white racists. At the time, Republicans were no more racist, on average, than Democrats - just the reverse, probably.

But after the Democratic Party stood up for what was right, Republican politicians were willing to do what was wrong, but politically advantageous. (They still are.) They were willing to use racism, and it worked remarkably well. It worked too well, in fact. It worked so well that they kept using it, and that has drastically changed the Republican Party itself.

During the Reagan years, Republican political operative Lee Atwater figured out how to describe economics in racial terms, thus getting white working class voters to support tax cuts for the rich and otherwise vote against their own best interests, by using racism.

Later, he explained how it worked:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

And it did work. It worked great, so the Republican Party kept using it. What do we hear just all the time from the right-wing? That black people vote Democratic because the Democratic Party takes your tax dollars and bribes them with free stuff. How racist is that?

And yeah, the fact that the Republican Party has deliberately used racism for political advantage for decades now couldn't have anything to do with black people switching political parties, right? LOL

Not surprisingly, racists tend to be gullible cowards and have other bad qualities, too. So the Republican Party started taking advantage of that as well, pushing fear and hatred while using of sexism, religious bigotry, and xenophobia. The Republican Party is faith-based and anti-science for the same reason.

Note that the GOP is anti-abortion because of racism. The religious right became politically active not because of abortion, which they didn't care about, but because they wanted tax breaks for their racially segregated schools. They adopted the issue of abortion because it proved to be more popular, politically.

Whatever works, right? That has been the motto of the Republican Party for the past half-century. Whatever it does to America, if it helps elect Republicans, they're going to do it. And it works. It keeps working!

When our first black president was elected - before he'd even taken office - Republican leaders in Congress met and agreed to do nothing he wanted, no matter what it was. Even when he adopted the Republican health care plan, they instantly turned against it. Their own plan!

This was at a time when America was fighting in two wars - unnecessary wars, started by the Republicans (one against a completely innocent country) - and while George W. Bush's second economic collapse, the worst collapse since the Great Depression, still looked to have no bottom. Republican leaders didn't care about that. They wanted America to suffer, because they figured that would help them politically.

And we rewarded them for that. Oh, they didn't regain the presidency in 2012. It didn't work as well as they'd hoped. But they did very, very well in 2010 and 2014, and that encouraged them to keep doing it. Heck, that let them keep doing it. We could have stopped this at any time, but we didn't.

Let me repeat that: We could have stopped this at any time. If racism, sexism, and xenophobia had stopped working for them, the Republican Party would have stopped using this political tactic. We let this happen to us.

Barack Obama stopped the Bush collapse in its tracks, and he got our economy growing again, but he received no credit for it. President Obama saved the American auto industry, but he got no credit for that. Heck, he even killed Osama bin Laden - you know, the guy who actually attacked us on 9/11 - after the Republicans had given up even trying, but he got no credit for that, either - not in the face of relentless criticism, stonewalling, and racist innuendo from the GOP.

And, of course, they've used that same strategy against Hillary Clinton (not explicitly racist, but that's still a part of it) with their non-stop lies for the past twenty years or more.

We let this happen. Oh, sure, I've opposed it, to the extent that I could. I've seen it happen my entire life, and I've fought it. Other people - lots more influential than me - have, too. But it continued to work. The Republican Party's Southern strategy, expanded and enlarged and buffed to a brilliant shine, is still working.

Hell, Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator, interfered in our presidential election, and we gave him everything he wanted. The Republican Party gave him everything he wanted! Why? Well, if you're willing to use racism for political advantage, what won't you use?

And we rewarded them for that. We pretended that Hillary's emails were important, because Republican Party pundits, politicians, and political operatives repeated that lie over and over again. And we were stupid enough to believe it.

George W. Bush was the worst president in U.S. history - an absolute disaster for our country in every way imaginable. But eight years later, after absolutely nothing they claimed about Barack Obama has come true, we've just handed control of all three branches of the U.S. government back to a Republican Party which has gotten even crazier and crazier since then.

Honestly, I'm as depressed as I've ever been in my entire life. I'm sick to my stomach over this. I can barely even stand to think about it. This is the first day I've been able to blog about it, and I don't know if I can continue after this.

I'm ashamed to be an American. It's not as though I ever really bought into that "American exceptionalism" bullshit, but I certainly thought we were better than this.

But I was wrong. I admit it.

And now we're facing a worldwide - a species-wide - disaster while America will be led by a man who called global warming a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. We're facing a future with a crazy, dumb, and hopelessly ignorant narcissist in control of our entire nuclear stockpile.

And we've shown the Republican Party - again - that racism works, that bigotry works, that pushing fear and hatred on gullible, ignorant, cowardly Americans works.

Do you really think that they'll stop now? Remember, we could have stopped this at any time in the past 40 years or so. But we didn't. We let it work. We let it keep working. So why won't they keep using it?

Despite the close polls, I was relatively optimistic before the election. I remained confident in America. I knew that racism had worked very, very well for the GOP - for decades - but I was convinced that this year would be the tipping point. I knew that we were better than that.

Well, again, I was wrong. Yes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but enough people voted for Trump, threw away their vote on idiotic third-party candidates, or couldn't be bother to vote at all,... and the worst has happened. I'm ashamed of my country, to have such dumb people in it, such ignorant people, such gullible people. I'm ashamed to be an American.

And I don't see how that's going to change. Sure, there will be other elections, but the Supreme Court is lost for my lifetime, and it will be harder and harder to oust a political party which is willing to do anything for its own advantage. The Republican Party has shown that it's willing to do whatever it takes to stay in power.

That 'Southern strategy' just keeps working. It's no longer just racism, not at all. And it's certainly not restricted to the South. But it works all the better for that. Over the past half-century, the Republican Party created and nurtured a monster. We could have stopped it at any time. But we didn't. And now it's too late.

I'm ashamed to be an American.


Chimeradave said...

I've been devastated too. hard to find much hope right now for progressive thinking. Been wondering how the media and polls got it so wrong

Chimeradave said...

I frightened about the supreme court. My healthcare. More wars. The economy crashing. And race wars breaking out.

Chimeradave said...

And global warming

jeff725 said...

The Force is with us on the "Planet Of The Apes" meme, Bill. Case in point:

Since I became aware of just how evil the Republican Party is 25 years ago, I've awaited Trump's arrival and dreaded it like death itself.

Nonetheless, I can't afford to let that thought consume me. I have more immediate responsibilities at hand. I have to take care of my 78 year-old mother whose health is not excellent and her house. I have to take care of myself by watching my diet and keeping up my exercise regimen. I'm one those unfortunate people that can eat AIR and put on weight.

And I will continue to monitor Trump's impending misdeeds without letting it emotionally consume me. How long I can do that before Trump's goons come and take me away for some sort of "political subversion," who knows?

Bill Garthright said...

John, I've had people tell me, "Well, it's only four years." But even if we regained our sanity immediately - and I have zero confidence of that - the Supreme Court would still be lost for my lifetime.

And it's not just the issues, not for me. It's the fact that my fellow Americans are stupid enough, ignorant enough, gullible enough, bigoted enough, and crazy enough to elect a Republican president after all they've done to our country - and not just any Republican, but a fascist clown like Donald Trump.

This isn't my America. It's more like the America as described by our worst enemies. I don't know if they were right, but I was certainly wrong.

Bill Garthright said...

"...without letting it emotionally consume me."

That's wise, Jeff, but I don't know if I can do that. I think it already has.

I've watched their evil 'Southern strategy' work for nearly twice that long. I couldn't believe that it worked so well even at the beginning, but how can it still be working for them?

Yeah, it's not as simple as just deliberately wooing racists, not anymore (although that's still a big part of it). They woo bigots of all kinds. They push hatred, fear, and even violence. They lie with impunity, because even when they're caught lying, no one cares.

The Republican Party has broken America's system of government, but no one cares. We blame "Congress," rather than the Republicans in Congress who've committed these evil acts.

We call Hillary "corrupt," because her political opponents claim that she is. Meanwhile, we ignore the fact that it was the five Republicans on the Supreme Court - opposed by all four Democrats - who opened our political system to the highest bidder and gutted the Voting Rights Act.

Agh! You've gotten me started again! I could go on all day (and often have). But before Tuesday, I had hope. Before Tuesday, I retained my optimism. Before Tuesday, I still believed that America was better than this.

Anonymous said...

So did I. And now I have been *literally* sick since last Tuesday. I agree with every sentence you wrote. I look at my neighbors and wonder - even here in Portland, OR - are you sane, or are you wearing a mask? Who are you? Did you bother to vote? Why not?


Kate Bulman (who doesn't have a web profile, I guess)

Bill Garthright said...

Thanks for the comment, Kate. I don't even want to think about the election. I'm apparently stuck at the 'nausea' stage of grief.

I suppose we'll get through this somehow, but I have to look at my fellow Americans differently after this.