We�ve all known individuals who�ve been so fervently devoted
to a particular assumption that they were completely incapable of accepting any
opinion fundamentally at odds with their impassioned belief.
Such folks tenaciously cling even to proven falsehoods
because conceding that they�ve been living a lie is a psychological leap just
too painful to make.
I�m convinced a similar phenomenon is occurring in a
collective way, relative to the American people�s view of their nation�s
unquestionably deteriorating status.
Despite being awash in profound injustice and resulting
inequity, causing worsening unemployment, hunger, homelessness, medical
neglect, poor school performance, infrastructure decay, etc., we can�t bring
ourselves to acknowledge that our capitalist way of life, made thoroughly
predatory by unchecked greed, has irredeemably failed.
Our popular culture is absolutely depraved, giving free rise
to rip-off schemers and shameless charlatans of all sorts, but we don�t
associate the sleaze on our television sets and our email in-boxes with a
complete breakdown of social responsibility, not to mention common decency.
Although it would be relatively easy to connect the
proliferating dots representing various evidence of ethical and material
collapse in America, we don�t pick up our figurative markers and draw the
requisite lines that would clearly reveal the big picture.
That keeps us focused on just those few, glaring shams and
scandals that the mainstream media find sufficiently titillating to cover. We�re
consequently led to think that they�re isolated, atypical instances, not the
iceberg�s tip of wholesale dissolution.
Given this detached and incomplete �analysis� of what�s
wrong with our country, demagogues find an ideal environment where they can
promote cynical diversions such as the Tea Party charade, whose sole purpose is
to sensationally scapegoat others for the huge harm the most reactionary sector
of America�s ruling elite has done to everyone, but especially to the US
Telling proof of this arose in my hometown during the 2008
presidential campaign, where a low-income worker living in a dilapidated house,
with a rusty car in the driveway, had a huge �McCain/Palin� sign posted in his
That�s tantamount to an armed robbery victim volunteering to
hold his assailant�s gun against his own temple, thereby allowing the criminal
to use both hands to more efficiently empty his wallet!
Millions of us are just as abysmally ignorant of who
actually victimizes and torments our wage-earning majority.
Or could it be that we DO know, on some partially
subconscious level, but we�re so terrified of being radicalized by the truth
that we descend into absurdity as a last-ditch defense mechanism?
That postulate would explain, in part, why conservatives
have universally gone almost pathologically insane in their off-the-wall
assertions about Barack Obama.
The success of a black president with mildly liberal
policies would essentially render conservatism extinct, so he ludicrously gets
charged with being everything from a Kenyan by birth to a communist by
That�s a wild clutching at straws, engaged in as a desperate
act, to try to forestall being placed in the position of having to finally
admit that everything conservatism entails -- everything that�s defined its
existence for decades -- was just a cloud of evanescent hokum.
Again, no one wants to admit having lived a lie, for years
The USA of glorious myth, propagandistically taught to every
child in grammar school, no longer exists. In fact, it actually never did.
We lead the world in virtually nothing today, excluding the
manufacture and use of pilotless killer drones employed in Afghanistan and
Pakistan to explosively murder �terrorists� who are mostly entirely innocent
people caught in the cross hairs of our morally bankrupt hypocrisy.
Both domestically and in the foreign policy realm, America
is deeply in the throes of devastating decline. Our impossible contradictions
may not entirely destroy this nation, but we�re certain to soon wind up in the
second or third tier of global countries, as measured in terms of effective
strength and influence.
Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but we fixate on Dancing
With the Stars, NFL football, or the Gosselin saga . . . anything to keep us
from facing the distressing truth that our jig is up.
Put another way, we�ve gone from being the land of the free
and the home of the brave to a dying place of the hopelessly indebted and the
We don�t have the courage to enact crucial change, because
doing so would pull the rug out from under our own feet.
So we go on pretending that nothing is really different, and
that we remain the planet�s greatest bastion of virtue -- God�s chosen
But make no mistake about it.
History teaches that the grandiosely deluded always fall.
Dennis Rahkonen of Superior, Wisconsin, has been
writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets
since the �60s.