At the nation’s inception, when the Declaration of Independence declared “All Men Are Created Equal,” it didn’t include slaves, or women, neither of which could vote. The statement was originally set forth to assert that the colonists, as a people, had the right to self-government. It was only in the decades after the American Revolution that the phrase acquired its reputation as a statement of individual equality. The immorality of slavery and the inequality of women were just two of the many contradictions that would then develop.
It is in fact more self-evident that we are all created individually different, in every conceivable way. But although the levels of intelligence in a given population may vary greatly, this is only one factor in collective decision making.
More important is the veracity of facts upon which decisions are made. Before Columbus travelled to the new world and back, a majority of the population believed the earth was flat. Furthermore, had King Ferdinand kept the voyage a secret, they would have continued to believe such. No doubt, even after the spices and fruits from the new world were revealed, there were probably still ‘science skeptics’ that just assumed this stuff was coming from the other side of the flat earth. However, since the ‘round earth’ explanation was coming from the court of the king and queen, the new reality was accepted by the majority.
And here is the most important variable to consider, how trusted is the source of new information? As I noted in my 2017 blog just after the last presidential election concerning ‘fake news’, the commercialization, decentralization and digitalization of news dispersion has completely delegitimized the press, once our primary source of new information. Then add a former president that created ‘alternative facts’ and today, with a large portion of the population that can’t tell truth from lies, facts from opinions, and doesn’t trust ‘authority’, WE’RE FUCKED!
But wait… there’s more…
Along with the proliferation of ‘fake news,’ superimpose the effects of capitalism and money on our democracy and things get even more problematic. Since money buys power and influence, and dollars spent on advertising can affect public opinion, candidates and causes that spend the most usually win. Without public financing of elections, politicians and the two parties spend most of their time raising money, instead of governing. Also, with the large two-party funding machinery now in place, a third-party alternative is a relative impossibility.
Since ours is a representative democracy, in which the people elect representatives who are then supposed to act on their behalf, when those representatives are bought and paid for by large special interests, guess whose interests they actually serve?
What’s more is the basic question as to whether capitalism, which benefits the few, can co-exist in a democracy, which should serve the many.
With the insidious growth of big money clogging the body politic, as CEOs earn literally a thousand times the salary of company employees and the wealth gap grows exponentially, might the entire system be setting itself up for an external heart attack?
Another side effect of this political sclerosis has been the emergence of ‘identity politics’ whereby people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics. These groups may be formed on the basis of rational, or sometimes irrational ‘facts’ or beliefs.
And then there’s racism…
After carrying out genocide on the Native Americans that were here before us under the slogan of Manifest Destiny, calling their victories ‘massacres’ and ours ‘triumphs,’ we then signed and broke treaties, forced them on to uninhabitable reservations, and shipped in smallpox infested blankets for population control.
Then we imported thousands of negro slaves to build our plantations, refusing to acknowledge them as human beings, but chattel to be bought and sold. Even after the Civil War and the collapse of the plantation system their equality could not be condoned by a large segment of the population, resulting in bigoted laws, beliefs and practices, many of which continue to this day.
This was followed by an ‘open door’ immigration policy that added to the diversity and strength of our economic system but now threatens to overtake the historical ‘White Christian’ majority. This frightens White Nationalists that see their very existence threatened while others in the working class fear their jobs will be lost to immigrants.
All of the above contributing to increased interracial tension and violence.
The world has also changed…
Following World War II, our country was intact while much of Europe and Asia had been demolished, unleashing unrestrained capital growth here, building infrastructure, converting wartime industries to domestic production, backing agricultural resources and international trade. With military stationed all over the world, we were Number One!
Now much of the world has caught up, with better roads, trains and airports. While we have outsourced manufacturing and watched our infrastructure deteriorate. At the same time conventional military has become less relevant.
Thankfully, with our entrepreneurial spirit, we were first into the digital age, with our advent of the internet and the rise of Silicone Valley. But our dominance in this area is tenuous as we’ve outsourced much of the manufacturing and lost millions to competition and intellectual property theft. What’s more, the transition to a digital reality is causing worldwide economic and military restructuring and upheaval.
Add to this, the immediate and long-term effects of global warming, and we’re definitely FUCKED!
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