An ideology that involves strong identification and great pride by a group of individuals with a nation is considered nationalism. Americans witnessed an outpouring of nationalism after the terror attacks on 9/11, and one can hardly forget George W. Bush addressing a joint session of Congress in November 2001 when he said, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” and it turned out to be a warning to the American people that Republicans have used to divide a once unified nation.
Today the nation celebrates 236 years of existence as a sovereign nation, and instead of a United States of America, Republicans have created a divided populace based on the mantra “either you are with us, or you are un-American.” The divisive nature of “us against them” has pitted white Christians and wealthy industrialists against the rest of the country, and it has engendered a feeling of sadness and despair in the population that is not aligned with conservative ideology. Conservatives, for their part, harbor extreme hatred for Americans that fail to fall in line with the greedy theocratic Republican agenda and are responsible for preventing America from being truly exceptional. In fact, it is getting to the point where it is nearly impossible to find any point of pride in what America has become under assault from theocrats and plutocrats.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and although his words are considered an “immortal declaration” and possibly the grandest statement in American history, Republicans have worked tirelessly to legislate those words, and their meaning, out of existence. For Americans who were adults prior to 1981 when Ronald Reagan portrayed the government as the greatest threat to the American people, and that the less-fortunate were draining the nation’s resources, the steady march toward plutocracy is a cause for remorse and sadness that any sense of a collective conscience is extinct in America.
For the three years, Republicans attempted to restrict the majority of Americans from enjoying Jefferson’s unalienable rights, and they did so with resounding support from theocrats and industrialists alike. According to Republicans, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is reserved for the wealthy and defined by religious extremists. The result is Americans around the country mourning the loss of community, shared sacrifice, and responsibility for oneself and their fellow Americans, and instead are witnessing the exaltation of the wealthy few and imposition of Christian laws on the entire population.
Republicans are wont to boast America’s exceptionalism as a source of pride, but under their anti-government and theocratic agenda, not only is America not exceptional, it is becoming a source of shame and ridicule for its treatment of an ever-expanding segment of the population that is not the wealthy elite or evangelical fanatics. This new paradigm is creating an environment of contempt for the poor, middle class, women, minorities, seniors and gays that harkens back to a time when landed gentry ruled unopposed and the church meted out punishment for breeches of their morality, and it portends the end of what was at one time the greatest nation on Earth. Those days are long gone and will probably never return.
It is incredibly sad that in America today, one political party has convinced their sycophants that it is acceptable for the richest country on Earth to deny healthcare to over 30-million Americans, block efforts to give all Americans a living wage job and security in their old age, and to discriminate against women, people of color, gays, and the poor. Christian conservatives have convinced their supporters that their bible supersedes the law of the land and that giving all of the nation’s assets to the wealthy and their corporations is how they achieve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One of the most oft-repeated questions from nearly every person this author interviews is; “why are Republicans taking what little I have left to give to the rich; do they not care about the rest of us?” The simple answer is no, they do not care. However, it is worse than just not caring, it is the support and contempt for Americans from other Americans and it has spread like a cancer throughout the conservative movement prompting supporters to vilify poor and middle class Americans who are the backbone of this country, and the “me first” attitude has morphed into a “me only” mindset inherent in the Libertarian movement.
Republicans have been so successful convincing their supporters they are “real Americans,” that a large segment of the population despises other Americans who oppose conservatives stripping away wealth to benefit the rich. It is certainly no source of pride that Republicans are openly working to destroy the government of the United States, or that their presidential candidate promises to dismantle large portions of the government to replace with for-profit corporations, or that cutting education, police, firefighters, and public sector employees to make room for more entitlements for the wealthy is a noble pursuit. What makes matters worse, is that Republicans use religion and racism to pit American against American to distract from their corporate agenda, and that their never-ending propaganda demeaning the opposition is driving right-wing extremists toward armed insurrection and a race war.
Attempting to find one reason to be proud of this country and celebrate America’s independence is an exercise in futility when a quarter of America’s children live in poverty, 50-million Americans barely survive on food stamps, and Veteran’s benefits are being cut to make room for the wealthy’s tax cuts. Instead of a communal outrage at the mistreatment of their fellow Americans, Republican supporters are clamoring for more drastic measures to punish the “takers” and reward the “makers” and it is shameful that Americans celebrate other Americans’ bad fortune.
The real source of shame is Republicans actively driving a wedge between Americans based on the skin color of the President. The class war has been raging for 31 years, but the culture war began in earnest in 2009 when Barack Obama was sworn in as the President, and despite his heroic attempts to unify the nation, Republicans have successfully created an “us against them” mindset in a frighteningly large segment of the population for political expediency. The right’s use of terms such as tyranny, government intrusion, religious liberty, Marxism, and socialist takeover are meant to enrage and frighten Americans who have no idea what those terms signify, and they have had a measure of success inciting Americans against Americans based on political affiliation.
It is tragic that this country could be a shining light in the world instead of a pox on humanity. America achieved its “greatest country in the world” status through shared sacrifice, commitment to its values, and a sense of community that has morphed into a nation of paranoid jealousy, fear of change, and hatred for other Americans to the delight of Republicans and their neo-conservative followers who consider perpetual war, starving citizens, and religious extremism exceptional. What conservatives are remiss to acknowledge is that America’s greatest achievements were a collective effort involving all Americans, and as they divide, separate and alienate segments of the population to achieve their goal of a corporate theocracy, it appears that America’s greatness is nearing an end.
Happy Birthday America, you are a fractured nation and instead of pride, this author feels nothing but abject shame and sadness that the people of this once-great nation were swindled into believing that “if you are not with us (Republicans) you are un-American,” and not worthy of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.