Bob Franken

Heading Toward the American Derailment

April 4, 2008
Heading Toward the American Derailment (Bob Franken)
@ 11:22 am

Headline in The New York Times: “81% SAY NATION IS HEADED ON WRONG TRACK.”

Question to the other 19 percent: WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?

Wherever we look, we see the American dream suffering a rude awakening.

The Constitution’s promises have been frequently swept aside by heavy-handed government officials who are motivated by simple-minded expedience more than a tradition of civil liberties that is supposed to make us unique.

The government, in fact, has become such a handmaiden to the financial system’s oligarchs that they can run roughshod over everyone else. And when their largely unregulated, fraudulent shenanigans finally cause such a collapse that their prosperity is threatened, our officials, elected and bureaucrat, rush in to make sure the rich stay richer, while everyone else sees his small gains flushed away. Yes, I’m talking about the housing crisis house of cards, but it’s only the latest example.

The humane image the United States was supposed to provide for the world has been so splattered by repeatedly getting caught at torture and other unconscionable international behavior that the U.S.A. has deteriorated from a nation that was the envy of the world into one that is widely scorned.

On this 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, it is fair to say that we have made some progress in race relations, but far less than we should have by now. It is true that an African-American has a genuine chance to become president, but it is also true we have good reason to worry whether his candidacy will be done in by lingering bigotry and the win-at-any-cost political opportunists who are more than willing to exploit it.

Through it all, our leaders have rejected the idea that citizens have a right to know what they’re doing. Their deceptions and intimidation against anyone who dares to expose their mal-, mis- and non-feasance have taken us a long way toward becoming the closed society we deride elsewhere.

We could go on and on. But the real question is not whether the U.S.A. is on the wrong track, but whether it can get back to the right one. With so much talk about “change” as an election issue, we need to wonder if it’s even possible, whether we will be able to recapture the sense of community, trust and willingness to sacrifice for the common good that made this country what it is, or what it used to be.

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