Here is a sobering assessment of the state of our country, from a young person who responded to Frank Riches latest Times column,
Aside from recommending that you not miss Andrew Bacevich’s article in the New Republic (recommended by Rich), don’t miss Joe’s comment below (recommended by over 2500 readers!):
I am a 35 year old man who had an interesting set of perspective shifts from 2001-2002. I started 2001 a Republican; I ended 2002 a vocal anti- Bush anti-war Democrat. And now I’m not sure I even want to be an American anymore. I speak for many of my friends.
What changed from 2001-2002? A number of things: The blatant dishonesty and warmongering of the Bush administration over spy planes in China, the creepy giddiness of the administration over 9-11 and the rush to war, and the horribly wrong coverage of all of the above by our “liberal” media. One more fact: I lived in London from late September 2001 through the end of 2002. From there, I read reports about the IAEA and Scott Ritter, Hans Blix et al. over and over again saying there were no WMD in Iraq. When I got back to the US, it was like a fascist nightmare. Flags festooned everywhere, people literally calling you a traitor for opposing the war, etc.
Through all of this time — from all of the disgusting crimes of the Bush years now through the Dems’ despicable capitulation to corporations (Andrew Jackson’s nightmare) — I’ve wondered what I’m still doing in this country. I’m finishing an advanced degree at the University of Michigan and honestly I feel like leaving and never coming back. I’d like to live in a humane place where democracy still means something. I would miss the comfort of the familiar, friends and family, my sports teams…but little else. Our country is no longer a place I’m proud of. I could fight to make this place better, but that’s a life’s work, and honestly I’m not sure if this place isn’t beyond repair. Regardless of my education, I think I speak for many my age and younger.
How bitterly ironic that so many people — including our absolutely execrable media elite, save for a few of you at the Times and here and there — actually thought we were such champions of democracy, beating the drums of invasion.
We no longer live in a functioning democracy. That is not the grim pronouncement of a dour hippie (not that there’s anything wrong with that). That is a sober account of the state of America today, spelled out by a skilled guy with a future and a solid moral foundation, someone that should be encouraged by some credible accountable leadership to stay and help make this country better. Rahm Emanuel dropping F-bombs to liberals and the UAW, Larry Summers running economic policy and Harry Reid grabbing his ankles for the GOP: not change I can believe in. And no more dear to me is a country where multitudes descend on DC to listen to a Weimar Republic beer hall speech at the Lincoln Memorial, listen to a fork-tongued Jabba the Hut seething chaos over public airwaves on a daily basis, or vote for a lobotmized governor in Arizona or openly racist senator in Kentucky. Where a “liberal” president convenes secret meetings to dismantle the last shred of fairness in American society, Social Security.
Do I stay and do my tiny part to make it work? If I were an entrepreneur capitalist I might be tempted, but you know I’m actually like most people in this country: I just want meaningful work as part of a team that gives me a decent standard of living, something I’m far more likely to get in northern Europe, Australia, Singapore, Germany, or Canada than here. Utopia means “no place” — but there are places are far more congruent with my secular moral values, with highly regulated free markets, robust public services, democratic freedoms and a sense of shared sacrifice.
What does motivate me to work for change here, whatever small part, is the danger of an even more arrant and errant USA in the world than what we have now.
But regardless, the fact that I’m a skilled young person very seriously questioning whether to give up my citizenship should concern some principled leader. Our misbegotten tragedy in Iraq is where it all started, but it’s been all downhill from there.
My sad commentary is that I wish I were in a position to do the same. Indeed, our son, born with 3 nationalities but living in the states, has recently activated his citizenship papers for the two other countries. I also read that the brain drain is reversing itself - with people returning to places like India and Pakistan. I worry that corporations are, in effect, controlling the levers of power throughout the world. Corporations lack souls. Something the young man above has in great abundance. And a world with its soul sucked out is not a place where humanity flourishes. Maybe that’s why I’m more focused on the “soul” these days. It’s like keeping a flame alive.