Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Thoughts On America

The New York Republicans and Democrats have spoken. Their choices? Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

My reaction? It is time to admit I do not belong in this country anymore.

I was born here. My parents were born here. One set of grandparents were born here, another were immigrants. All of them were so proud to be American.

I never considered it, honestly. This is my country.  Like everything in this world, it is not perfect and I never expected it to be. But I believed it was based on core values I hold dear - integrity, honesty, compassion, equality. It fell short over and over again, but those were the goals, weren't they?

Apparently I was mistaken.

My fellow Americans are creating a presidential election that will pit a bombastic, intolerant egotist (or an even more frightening religious zealot, should the GOP find a way to stop The Donald) versus the second candidate from a family with dynastic ambitions, millions of dollars made through its influence, and a sense of entitlement as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Donald Trump is clear about what he stands for: business and The Donald. Toss out the immigrants, double down on capitalism, try to bully our citizens and the world and somehow American will be great again. He's the only one who can do it, says he.

Never mind that most people consider America's greatest moments to be in the post-Depression, "let's pull together," government-for-the-people era of FDR. FDR was undoubtedly a Communist in Trump's book. Or at least a "loser."

Trump smacks of fascism and his supporters baffle me. He spouts hate and they call it "telling it like it is." Sometimes it seems as though he wakes up every morning wondering what he could possibly say to get himself disqualified from this race...but nothing seems to work.

I have no idea what Hillary Clinton stands for. Neither does she. She evolves constantly. She was against gay marriage but she's changed her mind. She stands for black Americans. Unless they are super-predators.  She stands for the middle class but single payer health care will "never, ever happen." She stands against Wall Street but she'd rather not show you the content of her paid speeches to them, thanks anyway.

She stands for strong defense and a vigorous offense. She stands for an aggressive, territory-gobbling Israel. She stands for sending troops to "support democracy," particularly if it's an area with resources we want or if it's strategically valuable to us.

Hillary Clinton is the moderate Republican the GOP is looking for. Depending on which Hillary you're considering.

So now you expect, no doubt, some shining prose about Bernie Sanders. You're not going to find it here. He's the best of the lot, in my opinion. But I do not fool myself he is some kind of savior come to create a kinder, gentler America. What I like is that at least he wants to try.

I wanted a candidate who seemed to believe in people. I wanted a candidate who thought government's role is to help its citizens have a decent life. I wanted a candidate who would rather listen and talk then load up a weapon or send out another battalion. I wanted a candidate who didn't consider corporations people and valued people over profits. I wanted a candidate who knew that each of us, every single one of us, is a person and we are all connected.

That sounds like Bernie Sanders.

But our system is so broken, so dysfunctional, and we have been complacent for so long, that I truly doubt he'd be able to make much headway, even with a Congress that agreed to do some work.

I voted for President Obama. Twice. I like him. I know he's part of the same old machine, but I think somewhere inside that intelligent mind there are ideals, and he's done what he can to live up to them where he can. Not everywhere - I know. There have been some horrifying exceptions. But at least, mostly, he tried. The world was so desperate for an intelligent, reasonable, charismatic American president that they dropped a Nobel prize on him even though he hasn't lived up to it. The rest of the world was disappointed with us, and with him. But at least we weren't embarrassed by him.

This time we are offered several embarrassments, an opportunist, and an idealist.

Perhaps Sanders will manage to outrun the Clinton machine. Perhaps he will run a successful third party race. I will vote for him if I can.

But I'm looking for my country if he doesn't win. It's not here. I don't know - maybe it never was.