Why is America so broken?
A call to action to be more informed.
I want to preface this one. It is a bit political. If that isn’t your jam, maybe archive this one and circle back next time. These are the risks you took by signing up for a 20-something’s brain dump each week.
Thank you so much for reading. ✌️
Why is America so broken?
“Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
I’m fed up.
The mainstream media has been harboring fake news at an all time high and American citizens are eating it up like a McDonalds happy meal. Tirelessly, American citizens pass anecdotes as fact every day, and you can’t even scroll on Facebook for more than four seconds without passing by some Antifa or White Supremacy propaganda.
And the worst part is that even for myself, there doesn’t seem to be an inkling of discernible truth to be found anywhere. And so, like Salinger so eloquently described in The Catcher In The Rye, I find myself confused, frightened and even sickened by human behavior.
Seriously - what the hell is going on? I so desperately want to do right by my country. I want to understand the workings of the world and vote in the best way that represents its constituents. I want to craft positive change for our country but I’m too busy drowning in the nonsense alongside everyone else.
Many people think by virtue of tuning into CNN, Fox News, or by sharing political propaganda on Facebook, that they are politically woke. By becoming the one that yells the loudest, or the one that successfully captures the opposing side into an array of “gotchas” (through opinions and soundbites) they have somehow fooled themself into thinking they are doing right by our country.
And so we haphazardly settle for the “lesser of evils” time and time again when we cast our ballot, conform to American patriotism by yelling over one another, tune into nonsensical entertainment, and forget about it all for another four years.
And it begs the question: at what point are we the puppeteer or the puppet?
With some, I share my detest for Trump. I am told that these conclusions are ignorant based on my age. I am called a socialist. But to me, America should stand for so much more than the interests of white suburbia and the rich. Since assuming office, President Trump has made 20,055 false or misleading claims. Someone who has repeatedly (1) (2) (3) disrespected the honor of our veterans for the sake of vanity, mishandled charitable funds, and has been accused of both sexual assault and adultery. These supporters have the audacity to suggest that voting for Trump preserves American democracy and society. Yeah, maybe the 50’s!
But at least Trump is a man of his word — right? And sure, if your ethics are skewed, you can turn a blind eye to his antics for the dream of a thriving economy. Wrong. Just a few years into office, he was ranked as one of the worst presidents of all time (by both democrats and conservative analysts alike, mind you.) He has actively pursued protectionist trade policies, ended immigration protection for legal Honduran immigrants, denied the danger of a deadly virus, killed Net Neutrality, and so much more.
I also share my detest for Biden with others. It has been suggested that by not voting for Biden, one would be racist and on the wrong side of history. And sometimes, I’m horrified to voice this dissatisfaction to those around me for this reason. The far left get just as vicious as the far right when you’re not fully bought in.
“It is not merely a manipulative rhetorical trick to say "if you're not with us, you're against us," but often simply false.
— Paul Graham
Biden paved the way to mass incarceration of Black Americans in 1994 when he supported a prison reform bill through the Clinton Administration. But of course, those same peers aren’t talking about that. His political record is awful. He has been caught lying (downright pathologically. Also: here, here, and here). His cognitive decline is abundantly obvious and his running mate is not as admirable as everyone wants to think. Don’t even get me started on his myriad of shady dealings, such as this, this, and this.
And if I see one more person draw parallels between the “protests” of today to the Boston Tea Party, I might lose what’s left of my mind. These were individuals who all weren’t even really certain if they wanted separation from Britain. They were exhausted from the unfair taxation without representation. No-one was killed and the participants were said to have swept the deck clean before parting. Benjamin Franklin even suggested that the British East India Company be reimbursed for the lost tea. This is a gross departure from the 2020 protests and riots which have left many dead and injured.
And so ultimately, I take large issue with both candidates and the political movements and narratives that follow them. Is anyone holding these people accountable for their deplorable actions? No. We are all too busy arguing with one another incessantly in Facebook comments. There is no desire for truth, but instead a malformed and innate desire to prove one another wrong to stroke our ego.
When are we going to think for ourselves?
Many willingly fit themselves into ideological categories that are quite narrow, and by “identifying” with these labels, they are depriving themselves of the contemplation and reflection befitting the question of a person’s identity.
― Simon Sarris, Are We Still Thinking?
And above all of that, what I fundamentally understand the least, is how everyone around me is so damn absolute in their thinking. That there can never be any divergence in the mainstream way of thinking, and by even offering an alternative opinion, one would be endangering democracy as we know it. Mention Yang or Sanders at family Thanksgiving and watch your conservative uncle go red in the face.
We’re spewing hatred for political agenda. I can’t even talk politics with some of my family because it invariably ends up in dispute. And the best part? The best that we could come up with to lead the world’s greatest nation are two old, white men who do not at all represent the average age — or daily life — of Americans. We’re all being fed a constant narrative, abundant with fallacy, without any regard for the truth.
“I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda,” I had written to these friends. “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”
― Malcom X
What does better look like for America? How do we escape this trap? Of course, none of this is new. We’ve struggled with this before we were even known as the United States. In fact, we couldn’t even agree on whether or not the Constitution would serve our future — as indicated by historical disagreements among the federalists — and so it sometimes feels that all we know now is arguing.
But I haven’t given up hope yet. I know we can be better. And as goofy as this may sound, we need to begin by being better to each other. Secondary to that, we need to develop a propensity to seek out absolute truth in everything we do. Lastly, we need to stop allowing the mainstream and social media to dictate our destiny and narrative.
And for starters, more people my age need to give a shit. And people my age need to give a shit about more than whatever tweet Donald Trump sent out that day, or whatever ridiculous mask efficacy debate is front page that day. We need to start giving a shit about our local community and congressional reform. More people my age need to take positive action for the sake of our country as opposed to slacktivism by virtue of sharing propaganda on their Instagram story.
We need to stop parading the opinions of the extreme left & right. We absolutely should not defund the police (or at least, the abstract and unintelligible definition of it that I’ve seen). We need to stop destroying our cities under some facade of societal progress (a target that seems to keep moving) and we need to stop supporting a wall — which is toppling an $11 Billion price-tag and counting — which won’t serve to help much but a false sense of security and a painful price-tag for taxpayers.
And I’ll be the first to say that I do not have all the answers. All I can suggest for now is to be the damn change you want to see in the world. Do yourself a favor and get out of Facebook arguments around lockdowns, mask efficacy, walls, Russian election interference, debates, and protests.
Not only do we need to be better to one another, we need to be better for our country. We have a civic duty to inform ourselves and do more than vote once every four years. For now, I’m going to continue to figure out how I can better support my local community. But on a larger scale, I want to figure out how to influence this process that is so obviously broken and not serving us anymore.
I’m fed up and you should be too.
My mind is fried. Tomorrow, I’m headed off to California for a week to visit my friends, surf, eat, beach, and enjoy life. Among my disillusionment with regards to the world and human behavior, I woke up and saw the most beautiful sunrise the other day. It was marvelous.
And for that brief moment, I forgot about any of that other crap.
Wishing you and yours the absolute best,