Just a thought. I’m a proud American. I am very thankful that I was born in this country as opposed to some of the other nations on earth – although being born here is simply by chance and I may have thought differently if I wasn’t white, male, and from the middle class. But at its essence, what should make a country great and it’s citizens proud? It can be assumed that this list would consist of people, culture, kindness, opportunity, safety, health and wellness, the physical landscape, good history, and more. It seems today that much of what is claimed to make America a great nation and it’s citizens proud deals with our military history, particularly the victory of the revolution and WWII. As rising West Virginia politician Richard Ojeda says, what’s so great about America, just that “we can whip your ass?” That’s not much pride to stand on.
So should I be so proud today, proud of where our country is at? Let me depressingly list some reasons why I struggle to be proud on Independence Day:
- The situation at the border is despicable. Family separations, horrible conditions with failing health conditions, multiple deaths, overcrowding, and more (despite the fact that many of the migrants fit the legitimate definitions of refugees and asylum-seekers).
- A culture of male dominance and female belittlement.
- A disgusting idolization of guns that has led to a problem that no other western nation has and even the most violent of countries doesn’t struggle with. No conservatives, the constitution did not grant the right to have military-style assault weapons, but context matters none.
- The only western country in the world to remove itself from the Paris Climate Agreement and a large segment of the population that ignores fact and is brainwashed by oil companies and those wishing to keep dying industries (coal) alive. And a country that has some of the most diverse landscape in the world with some of the most beautiful natural wonders, yet continues to slash Department of the Interior funding, advocates drilling in wildlife refuges, and chooses oil pipelines over Native American lands.
- Refuses to recognize the race issue in this country and the horrible history of slavery and Jim Crow laws, which are still impacting Americans of color. Yes, the Civil War was fought over slavery; some argue states rights, but it was about a states right to do what – allow the ownership of other human beings.
- A political system that is broken. In 2010, now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proclaimed that the single most important agenda item for Republicans was not some piece of legislation, not something regarding the financial crisis or the Afghan War, but ensuring Obama was a one-term President. Wow, very senatorial of him but mirroring our current political affairs.
- An election process that uses an outdated electoral college system that applied to 1787 politics but has no bearing in 2019. In two out of the five presidential elections since 2000 the winner did not have a majority of the votes. Not very representative of the public.
- A health care system that people think should be run via capitalism as opposed to being a right of citizenship. An emergency room visit for a life-threatening case leads to tens of thousands of dollars in bills put on the patient. Really? Should we be treated by for-profit doctors and hospitals, who at the end of the day prefer money over effective treatment? We have the best doctors working in the worst system.
- A minimization of education and it’s importance to national success and security. When did public education become an enemy or a joke? When did universities start putting more money into college sports as opposed to intellectual advancement? A culture of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” and non-education is helping to lead to worsening comparative test scores and educational performance by America on the global stage.
- Ignorant and uneducated citizens have led to a large segment of the population believing (and deeply believing) false information. Fake news is real, but so many don’t know what is fake and what is not. It’s truly an epidemic.
- So much more. Capitalism has made so many thrive in our country, but runaway capitalism without proper regulation has dramatically increased the gap between the richest and the poorest Americans.
- Thinking we can spend more government money without increasing tax revenues coming into the government is just not mathematically possible, yet good luck on getting that to pass Congress.
- A sizable portion of Christians (of which I am one) who ignore the Bill of Rights (of which I am not one) and think that government should regulate people’s lives in the way that they think that God would want.
- Not to mention the disgrace nationally and internationally of our current president and the defamation of the office he is holding. Don’t forget, however, that 62 million people voted for him, so it’s not just him to be disgraced by, but ourselves as well.
It is unfortunate that on this Independence Day, while proud of many of our accomplishments as a nation, I am deeply disappointed in much regarding the current state of affairs. It is hard to be proud of something that is failing so many so badly. Hopefully up-and-coming generations will help right the ship that is sailing far off the course it was intended.