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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Broken Shards of My Heart

The United States in Decline

By David Michael Green
Information Clearing House
Sunday, June 10, 2012

I could tell you that my heart was broken by what happened in
Wisconsin this week, but in truth that’s not quite accurate.

I grew into political awareness and maturity in the middle of the

For people my age, then, our entire adult lives have been one long
witness to the dismantling of that which we grew up taking for
granted as a foundation for any further progress that might come.

We lived in the relatively egalitarian country of the New Deal and
the Great Society, with its robust middle class and a measure of
earnest compassion for the poor.

Today, that seems like a foreign country, if not a remote planet.

Over the course of our adult lives:

We watched in shock and horror as the country turned to a
Hollywood washout, who was literally a national joke candidate
five years earlier, and made him president, following him down
every path of joyful self-destruction and absurd deceit.

Our jaws dropped in the 1990s at the visage of Newt Gingrich, the
most overtly petulant and destructive piece of self-loathing to ever
occupy a human body, as he was elevated to the highest position
in the United States Congress, and pioneered the basest politics
and the shattering of our government that remains our inheritance

As if that weren’t shameful enough, at the same time Gingrich’s
buddy down at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue was
destroying the meaning of the Democratic Party, aping the
Republican sell-out to corporate thieves and the abandonment
of the public interest – especially the poor, the first to be thrown
under the bus.

And, despite the fact Bill Clinton deserves to rot in hell for the
damage he did in exchange for his personal joyride in the White
House, we were nevertheless forced to watch in horror the
relentless and destructive lunacy of the president’s impeachment
for the high crime of lying about a blow-job.

We had to endure the travesty of Bush versus Gore, one of the most
egregious tramplings of democratic practice imaginable, then watch
the sickening product of that judicial rape: the swaggering wars
based on lies, the torture, the doubling of the national debt, the
environmental depredations, the economic melt-down, and the
raison-d’etre for it all: the radical shifting of wealth from the 300
million of us to the one-tenth of one percent who own everything
in sight.

Perhaps most emotionally devastating of all – Et tu, Brute?

We’ve suffered the betrayal these last years of another Democratic
sell-out, a supposedly liberal-if-not-socialist president actually so
conservative and so sold-out that he couldn’t even bear to pursue
his own personal interest sufficiently to produce a successful
presidency, but has rather continued and amplified the worst
characteristics of the open sore that was the Bush presidency,
even in the midst of crisis opportunities not seen since the 1930s.

So, no, by this time, my heart was not really broken when my
former home-state, Wisconsin, voted emphatically to commit
suicide this week. But only because there’s so little of that heart
left to break.

Shards here and there were crushed and extinguished, to be sure,
but I am becoming rapidly beyond caring about the country I live
in, a place and a people so determined to get it wrong at every
juncture imaginable.

At some point, don’t you just have to stop trying and let the
substance-abuser finish the job on their own?

This country is dying, let’s be clear. It may live yet. It may
survive for decades in slow decline.

It may find a way in utter crisis to throw off, before it is too late,
the fat slimy boa which is squeezing every last cent of value out
of it.

Its political class may invent a devastating foreign crisis with
massively grim consequences in order to deflect public attention
from its manifest failings.

Maybe it will even be some combination of all of the above.

Who knows?

What we can be sure of, however, is that what was once a great
and promising idea as much as a nation is now decrepit to the core,
and rapidly rotting away, and that these wounds are entirely self-

That, for me, is the kicker.

The Soviets didn’t invade and take us over. We didn’t succumb
to some raging virus like the Black Plague. A meteor didn’t blast
a hole in the middle of North America.

We just killed the goose ourselves, through a toxic mix of greed,
laziness and stupidity.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra
University in New York.

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