We are no longer “One nation, with liberty and justice for all.” We are less focused on competing with the rest of the world than we are focused on competing with our fellow countrymen. We are losing our stature on the world stage. This has provided an opening for the remainder of the world to catch up and take more of a leadership role. This in turn has led to our present frustration.
The past helps foretell the future. This country is changing. The people of the country are changing philosophically. The country is more politically divided than it has been for generations. The wrestling match within the country revolves around how do we keep our world dominance. The GOP, believes we can bully our way back to dominance and implement an austerity program geared towards the working class and poor. The Democrats are not addressing the problem at all but rather want to buy their popularity with programs and no means of paying for them.
No one is thinking long term. The rest of the world is catching up.
The United States was not considered a world power at the beginning of the 1900’s. It was a nation mostly made up of people with roots in Europe. It was still a struggling nation. The 1918 flu pandemic infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide. It killed more people than all the wars of the twentieth century combined, It ravaged families. In my Dad’s family alone more than half of his brothers and sisters were killed by this influenza before he was a teen.
At about the same time World War I broke out resulting in over 17 million deaths worldwide and an additional 20 million wounded. The same generation that experienced the flu pandemic and World War I then dealt with the 1929 stock market crash and subsequent depression that lasted for most of the 1930’s. At the height of the depression over 20% of Americans were unemployed. During much of the depression my Dad was in the Civil Conservation Corp to stay alive and reduce the number of mouths to feed back home. The depressed times lasted through the 1930’s and into the 1940’s until production and employment began to pick up because of World War II, which resulted in over 60 million people being killed worldwide. My Dad fought in World War II as did some of my uncles. During the war my Mom worked at an auto factory to put food in her, my brothers and my mouths.
Here is a picture that depicts the brutality of the war and the concentration camps. If you have a weak stomach you may not want to look. It is not pretty
My Dad was born in 1913 and lived through all of this. My generation, I was born in 1945, heard about the first half of the 20th century from our parents and friends of my parents. As a result I understood and learned from their perspective including their attitudes towards FDR. Vietnam, union's, foreign competition, frugality and the Democratic Party.
I grew up in a 600 square foot house on the north end of Flint and had no complaints about life. My brother and I shared a bedroom, sleeping on the same double bed with the back of our refrigerator protruding into our bedroom. We were content. We left that house when we went to college and never returned except to visit.
At the same time, my generation always looked at the United States as the leading nation in the world. We had the strongest military and most productive economy in the world. We indeed were King Of The Mountain. The remainder of the world was rebuilding from World War II. Our country's infrastructure and industrial base was not destroyed by war. This gave us a tremendous advantage that we never admit to. There was nothing we could not do better than other countries. A side affect of Europe's destruction of its infrastructure during the last World War is the United States is now the country with old infrastructure. A good example is the water crisis in Flint.
The country is also changing because my children's generation never experienced the struggle my parents did nor did they hear about it from the generation that actually did the struggling. They heard about it second hand from my former wife and I as they ate well with each having their separate bedroom in a five bedroom tudor house in the burbs. I am proud of both of my sons. They are simultaneously hemorrhoids and God's greatest gift. None better.
As the United States was intoxicating itself with the good life Europe was rebuilt, China came out of the dark and are competing for world dominance, Africa and South America have begun to build a middle class, India and Pakistan built a nuclear bomb, as did China. A good portion of this country is not living the life my sons did. They are in poverty, lack a good education and are having a hard time getting started on their own. They cannot afford to go to college and many have not graduated from high school. We are not used to needing to struggle to stay on top of the mountain.
The thirty-five year old of today was born in the early eighties, read about all of the above in history books while looking at his/her classmates of the opposite sex. The first presidential election they voted in was George W. Bush vs. AL Gore. They sat next to their Dad or Mom while driving, listening to Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity. He/she made the mistake of thinking they were listening to the news instead of propaganda and/or entertainment.
They saw the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York and saw President George W. Bush land a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier declaring victory over Iraq. It did not matter that Iraq had nothing to do with the bombing of the Twin Towers. My generation remembers the Vietnam War and the possibility of being drafted. My boys never had that threat. Many of their generation look at Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity as bone fide, independent newsmen rather than entertainers selling elixirs.
These entertainers define free markets similar to the wild west in the 1800’s where there was no sheriff in town. It was every man for himself. What they were never taught was progress occurred only after the sheriff showed up and created law and order. Just like the wild west, free markets need structure and organization.
The problem is the three medicine men, Limbaugh, Levin and Hannity have this generation of young voters convinced anyone not listening is either a communist sympathizer or from the government.