American Dream, American Nightmare

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davideyoung

I actually agree with many of the points made here. I think patriotism and national pride are wonderful things, and I have a great deal of both. But I do not support forcing our ways onto other cultures outside of our borders.
 
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Maritxu

Nationalism is never a good thing. It may have been useful in the past but now it is only causing nationalists a lot of problems
 
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melchizedek22

the best way to bring our American ideals,to other countrys,like freedom,democracy,liberty,is to
make up a horseshit story about WMD,and invaded,they will welcome us with open arms!
 
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splansing

Universally acceptable bland vanilla observation

The best way to spread culture is by thriving. If you can do it without stepping all over other people, they'll be clamoring at your door to ask you how you do it. This country has the natural resources and the technology to absolutely thrive. A point that seems to be developing on several threads here is the idea of de-centralizing the government. Such a move would have far-reaching effects. First of all, individual states are not likely to be nearly as concerned with what is happening 8,000 miles away, so you could expect a dramatic shift in focus back towards domestic concerns. This world policeman, world superpower nonsense is a product of a globally-focused central government, not of the people of Pennsylvania or Nebraska, who by and large could give two shits whether Saddam Hussein is nice to his citizens. Granted, the economic well-being of the U.S. as a whole certainly has to be considered on a global stage. But with the resources available here along with the peaceful, willing partners in business we do have, there is no need for us to be mired in relationships with what amount to fledgling, primitive societies that haven't yet figured out how to take care of their own business. As far as I am concerned, there is no need to move into such places to try to impose conditions favorable for us to do business. There is simply too much of the world that is ready and willing to do business as it is. Clearly we have to break the stranglehold oil has on our society to move forward with this philosophy. But the well-known Prime Directive from the Star Trek millieu ought to be our guiding principle. You cannot coerce people into democracy, or even into stability. If they are not ready to stop fighting and killing each other over their internal resources, then they are not ready. And doing business with us will only add to their problems.

As it stands now, the few ultra-rich elite who buy into the political process in this country are dictating our foreign policy, and our federal government has enough power to divert considerable national resources into enacting that foreign policy. Those few people can direct not only their own wealth and power towards global schemes to increase their wealth and power, but the combined wealth and resources of the entire country to enforce the conditions they desire around the world to facilitate those schemes. I seriously doubt this is what anybody had in mind when they were ratifying the Constitution, which initially provided for a federal government that was so impractically weak that they had to revisit the issue a few years later and make provisions for the government to-- get this --collect TAXES! Imagine a federal government that couldn't collect taxes. Obviously it's impractical. But it does provide a pretty good idea what our esteemed forefathers had in mind when they started The Experiment. Remember that the next time George Bush or any other modern-day politician on either side of the aisle has the balls to mention our founding fathers.

Our current government is comprised almost entirely of the sort of people that our founding fathers had a passionate dislike for, and so little trust in that they did everything they could to keep the power out of their hands. It worked for a while, but eventually the rule of law was corrupted by limiting access to the law itself. If you don't believe that, have a look at the tax code, then at the costs of a law degree, and then at the old boys' club that is the bar association, and get back to me. The de facto differences between the way our country is run today and the way a medieval fiefdom operated are negligible. The vast majority of Americans works for their money and pay their taxes. The federal government then spends those taxes, to be fair, on infrastructure and various social services, but also on airline tickets for Senators to fly to Uganda to set up trade agreements which they are already positioned to personally take advantage of financially. To pay for huge "grants" to various countries (read "dictators") which amount to bribes so that the politicians in the know can continue to do business in those countries. To finance a military that hasn't been used in defense of American soil since WWII, but which is instead used to enforce economic conditions in areas where payoffs (using our tax dollars) won't work. Surely the existence of an educated middle class is a profound difference between our society and a medieval fiefdom. But the reality is that the military is overwhelmingly staffed by desperately poor and ignorant people and it is universally directed by fabulously wealthy and powerful politicians who are no longer even held to the standard that we understand why we are being told to fight and die.

America has always been so far from what we think America is that it is among the great historical hypocricies that we think of ourselves as somehow the land of the free. The nation was built on the backs of slaves. When that institution was torn down, the masters of capitalism simply manipulated conditions with their wealth so that so-called "free" people were effectively reduced to slavery (children working in coal mines for 12 hours a day, etc.). As the middle class flourished, the puppet masters were driven behind a curtain of pretenses and misdirection, but they have never relinquished their grip. Occasionally one of them is exposed and comes crashing down, only to land softly on a surface well-padded with soft money when all is said and done. And yet we continue to labor under the illusion that we are masters of our lives, that we are free, that the ideals of our forefathers are alive and well in this country.

I am not a communist, and I am not suggesting that somehow we tear apart our society. The truth is that the ideals of our society are alive and well in the Constitution, but we simply choose not to force our leaders to apply them. There are people in Congress who have held their seats for decades. Think about that: decades. That's way too long, and it's the heart of the problem. We need term limits for everybody, from the President on down. Our local governments ought to impose limits as well (but they should have the power to do it for themselves). These people are so far gone into the secret world of billionaires that it can hardly be surprising that our society is organized the way it is. Somewhere along the way, our civic mindedness fell by the wayside, and the wool was pulled over our eyes. Our politicians were stripped of their accountability, which was replaced with this notion that somehow it is "American" to be blindly obedient to people we elect, to simply hand over the reigns and forget about it, doing as we are told every step of the way and not rocking the boat. But the one thing that you will find in the accounts of foreigners who visited America back in its infancy is an astonishment at the pervasive, passionate involvement of all Americans in the political process. There is no chance that a foreign visitor in this age could make the same observation.