Featured image by Alan Levine. Follow the link for more of this artist’s work.
Our country is fractured, and in my opinion, beyond repair. The densely populated coasts and cities of our country have little in common with the “flyover states,” anymore. Our language is diverging at seemingly Babel-esque speed. And our politicians are using the events of January 6th to justify the actions they are taking against the half that didn’t vote for them. We are living in a society that no longer believes in the presumption of innocence, doesn’t account for intent, and shows no signs of forgiveness for any transgression against the new orthodoxy. We are being told by avowed racists that the only proper way to see the world is through a racialized lense, and that any slight is merely the manifestation of some deeply held phobia or ism.
Why? Why do we wish to salvage a society so broken? Why do we wish to resuscitate a culture that believes in trampling upon the freedoms of others because they are offended by what they hear? Our once great civilization has become so ossified that we have lost our humanity, and the people claiming to be the most empathetic are often the ones most bent on destruction.
The way things are going now, our country will split. With the Senate now considering changing the filibuster rules and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin at least on board with “reforming” the filibuster rules, it seems like it is a matter of time before he caves. Politicians are fairly squishy creatures. Given enough pressure and money thrown both at them and against them through lobbyists, political action committees, super PACs, and his own constituency, I don’t see him holding out for two years.
If things do go this way, and legislation passes on mere party line votes, then the minority states will have effectively lost their voices. It no longer becomes a republic, with majority rule and minority rights, but rather, the tyranny of the majority.
Alexis de Tocqueville had said, “In Europe, with its complex hierarchical societies, the majority has little or no power. It is rather the aristocracy, the clergy, the legal profession, and the rising merchant class—the independent centers of powers—that will resist and even oppose the sovereign. Some of these groups do exist in democracies, but they have little or no independent legitimacy.”
It is seemingly becoming this way in the United States. The working people have little to no say in today’s politics. According to Represent Us, a Princeton University study shows that nearly 90% of American’s preferences have essentially no impact at all.
So, again, why would I want to live in a society that neither values me, nor gives me a say in how my life is run? I wish to be left alone, to live my life, to marry, have a family, and to enjoy my little piece of land with my community. I cared little for the vast world-shaping events, and even less about the social trends. But the pandemic shut everything else down, and life became all about politics and the culture wars. I was aware, I paid attention, but I could still escape from it if I wanted to. Now, everything is political. My thoughts, my beliefs, my feelings, my actions, my very state of being. Everything I do, think, say, or even what I don’t say, do, or think. And more and more it seems like I lose no matter what I do. I recognize that the game is rigged against me, so why bother playing?
That sentiment is growing, and if our country loses the faith of the people, it will fall. Whether that is the intent or not remains to be seen.