Dude, Where's My America?

So now it's July 1, 2009 — just short of 233 years since the United States of America declared its independence from England. And, you know, I don't believe in it anymore.

I was raised with the notion that America was a place where the smart and the hard-working were rewarded. Taught that we control our government, not the other way around. [In Soviet Russia, government controls you!] That anyone can step forward and change the country for the better.

But what I've found is that none of that is true.

There was a confluence of several things that got me here.

The "Cash for Clunkers" law is the poster child for everything that's wrong with the legislature today. The goal set before them was to set America on a path to reduce pollution and consume less oil. What they did was to create a law that caused more consumption: building a new car consumes more energy and creates more pollution than keeping an old one on the road. And all because the actual problem won't fit in a sound-byte. Plus, the law reinforces the new American model of mass consumerism.

Then there was a discussion I had about class reunions. It's rare that you get a truly random sample of America, but people who came from the place you did is a pretty good random sample. I mean, just because our parents chose to live in the same place doesn't mean we're anything alike. Anyway, when I think about my reunion, I realize that — unlike my self-selected group of friends — that in fact, only about 5% of people even remotely believe in the same ideals as I do. Most are thrilled that America is at war all the time and that we do things bigger than other countries.

Finally, there's the curious case that American's, by-and-large, don't hold mass protests, and certainly don't get violent (police excluded). When you watch other countries people deal with things they disagree with in the government, it's friggin' serious. But here, it's just a bunch of jobless hippies who protest. The reason is that we have a superior government where you can simply write to your representatives and they get the same message. If you don't like what they do, just vote them out. The truth of the matter is that our representatives do whatever they please, and it's good marketing (with lots of money) that gets them reelected.

So the illusion is over. America is what it is. Have a good birthday, old man.


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