American insanity

I admit to a feeling of dejection at being back in the USA again.

Same old callous attitude towards women vomiting out of the Republican Party (“legitimate rape,” my ass!).  Same old desperate pleas for money from the Democrats, who are forced to beg for funds from small fry like me to try to compete with the billionaire Republican funders.  Same old blithe disconnect between the reality of climate change (drought, anyone?) and the steady roar of the fracking drills in Pennsylvania and the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.  Shrimp and fish turning up grotesquely deformed by tumors, eyeless and burned, for hundreds of miles around the BP spill.  Whatever.

Not that things were paradise in Canada.  The crash of the fish populations there is alarming, and they too are involved in the dirtiest of business in the Alberta boreal forest (which I refuse to call by the euphemism “tar sands,” implying as it does that there’s nothing there worth saving).  They clearcut forests and pollute rivers and all the rest of it.

But from just a few weeks of tuning into the media there, I can tell that there is much more clarity and focus there on environmental issues.  Every single issue of the Halifax Chronicle Herald has at least one article, and usually several, about energy or agricultural or fishery policy in relation to climate change.  They are actually working towards meeting the goal they set for themselves of generating 15% of the nation’s energy needs by renewable means by 2020, and many are calling for a more ambitious target.

Coming across the land bridge into Nova Scotia one is now greeted by a newly erected forest of huge wind turbines, and there are water turbines churning in the nearby waters of the Bay of Fundy, too.  Many more are in the works.

Although there is political strife in Canada, such as has boiled up in Quebec in recent months, there is none of the viperous, self-destructive attack politics that goes by the bland name of “the election year cycle” here in the States.  Politicians campaign on the issues rather than on smearing and sniping at each other. Voter turnout is about 60%, as compared to the dismal 40% in the U.S.

Why do so many people feel disengaged, disillusioned, and disgusted with politics here in the U.S.?  Why do we feel like no matter how we vote, our values will not be reflected in Washington?

Because it’s true.

I happen to believe that Barack Obama shares my values.  I believe he is a genuinely caring, ethical man who sincerely wants to create a country in which politicians collaborate rather than backstab each other; in which government and corporations serve the public good; in which the goal of economic activity is raising all boats, rather than creating a few luxury liners for the richest 1% of Americans.  I believe he’s a good man.

And yet, he has been unable to make a dent in politics as usual in Washington.  The Republicans have shown repeatedly that they are the party of the wealthy boardrooms of Big Business and Big Finance, and since they own so much of the news media, and so many think tanks, and so many political seats, including Supreme Court seats, well, they can do as they wish and everyone else be damned.

I have noticed a certain grim set to Obama’s jaw in the last year, as the reality of his fly-in-the-web position has sunk in.  He knows that even if he wins re-election, he will be foiled at every turn.  And it doesn’t help that it’s getting harder and harder for him to inspire his base—people like me who are beyond frustrated with the status quo, and no longer believe he and his team can make a change.

When I get those daily emails from Democratic headquarters pressing me to donate to the campaign (just $12!), and then I hear about how the Koch brothers are donating millions to the Romney campaign, the little sprout of hope that springs eternal in me just starts to wither.

Yes, if 100 million Americans donated $12 to Obama it would make a big difference.  But frankly I would rather see some savvy crowdsourcing through social media, with the goal less raising money to burn up on TV than getting more people out to the polls on election day, and empowering ordinary Americans to rise up and insist on real representation in Washington.

I am not interested in betting on the horse race.  I can’t sanction the wasteful spending of huge sums on campaigning, while our planet burns and billions of people are locked in poverty.

Romney will be bad—very, very bad—for the health of the environment and all living things, including humans.

He, and all the slimy bastards who prop him up, must be defeated.

But this battle is about much more than just one country’s Presidential race.  It’s about our future on this planet.  A vote for Romney is a vote for business as usual, and then some—drill, baby, drill.

Why is it that so many Americans are so suicidal?

Maybe we need some collective social therapy more than anything else.

It really does seem that as a nation, we are insane.

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  1. I have rarely read a blog post more in tune with how I feel about U.S. electoral politics every moment I allow myself to think about the criminal hold the Right in all its guises has on our poor country. I also recognize that sense of astonishment I’ve always had when I visit Canada–that a country so resembling ours is so much saner in so many ways. Having to get out the vote for Obama, someone I also believe sincerely wants to improve the lives of most Americans, has lost all of its satisfaction. The first time around there was legitimate excitement. Now we are reduced, once more, to voting “against,” not “for.” But saddest of all, for me, is the realization that at least half the population actually wants a man and a party that are creationist, racist, xenophobic, womanizing, homophobic, war-mongering, and out to make bigger and better fortunes–their fellow citizens be damned. It is nothing less than a national tragedy to experience such loss of real humanity.

  2. Oh my. Yet another post that completely captures the way things are and makes me sick to my stomach and causes me to hyperventilate (not you, but the truth in what you write). And yet in the face of this, we can do nothing but continue fighting. The alternative is simply not an option.

  3. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  August 25, 2012

    Thanks for your replies, Margaret and Audrey. I really think we should investigate this question of the collective mental health of our citizenry here in the US. And more important than the diagnosis is the question of WHAT CAN BE DONE to improve matters.

    In the past I’ve characterized my compatriots as “sleepwalkers” who are unconscious to the peril we face. But now it seems even darker than that to me. Not just unconscious, but delusional, in denial, and–for the dangerous rightwingers–outright psychotic.

    My impulse is to get the hell out of their way! But another part of me doesn’t want to be a quitter, wants to stay and try to turn things around, give our poor troubled nation the therapy it so badly needs….

  4. Mary Mann

     /  August 26, 2012

    After reading your latest post, American Insanity, and having experienced for several years the kind of anguish you describe there, I’d like to suggest Jill Stein, M.D., the Green Party’s presidential nominee, and her platform for a Green New Deal, as quite wonderfully constituting a reenergizing and inspiring COLLECTIVE SOCIAL THERAPY for our nation. I’m sending links below as an initial introduction in the hope that you might be inspired by further investigation and reflection to write a blog (or several!) encouraging others to at least consider this candidate and her vision at this pivotal time in our history.

    In order to participate in the presidential debates, a candidate must have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five national polling organizations. It seems to me that that 15% support in national polling is achievable for Dr. Stein through networks which include alternative media such as those who carry your blog and subsequent forwardings by readers through social media. The dialog of the debates would be qualitatively different with the inclusion of this savvy and articulate candidate, that’s for sure. I personally believe she’d have a shot at winning the election in today’s political climate if she and her platform received that kind of national publicity.

    Introductory links I’d suggest, for you and for others who may read this:


    (2) Far-ranging July 15th televised interview on C-Span’s Washington Journal The link is at the far right of the page under the heading, Video Playlist. 45 minutes

    (3) Brief bio:


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