What’s Wrong with America?

How’s that for a loaded question? The following is an essay by frequent commenter David Mercer. I don’t necessarily agree with it all (e.g., I plan to vote for the Dems in the next election because their track record is somewhat less atrocious than the Republicans), but it’s certainl;y food for thought.
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Did my ancestors eke out a bare existence on Plymouth Rock to practice their faith for this?

Spying on ourselves as the Russians only could have in the most
fevered dreams of the KGB.

Did my ancestors fight and die for the American Revolution for this?

Calling it necessary to stop terrorist attacks when all that was
needed to stop 9/11 was strong doors and locks in cockpits.

Did they fight and die on the battlefields of the Civil War for this?

Even Lincoln suspending habeaus corpus was at least done in the open.

Did my grandfathers fight in Europe and the Pacific for this?

Inherant power under the Constitution to do this is beyond laughable.

Has the entire last 400 years of struggle of my ancestors been utterly in vain?

Has America forgotten utterly what it is?

Have the darkest nightmares of George Washington and the dangers of
party politics finally been realized?

Why is all of the debate about the NSA spying revolving around it’s
legality? How is that even possible here?

Can anyone see right from wrong anymore in America?

Can anyone remember what it means to be an American?

Where is the Spirit of America?

Do not vote for any incumbent, Democrat or Republican, in coming
elections, or it will be the worse for us all. They are both corrupt
parties, fighting over power that they are loathe to give up.

We The People are Sovereign here.

The Republican and Democratic Parties are not Sovereign, and have no
inherant right to exist.

We The People ARE the Government of this Nation, and it seems to be
long past time that we administered a refresher course in that lesson
at the ballot box, to both of those old and corrupt parties.

How is it that the rules to stand for office in this nation are so
convoluted and nearly impossible to meet for anyone not personally
wealthy or backed by the Republicans or Democrats?

Does either of those parties truly even remember what those words MEAN?

Have we truly become the worst in what we hate? How is unquestioned
rule by one or the other different from unquestioned rule by one
party?

Does anyone understand what this program means?

It WILL lead to abuses of personal power that make the 47 year rule of the FBI by it’s first director seem tame and pale, and whomever grabs the reigns of such an apparatus will not easily give them up.

Who in the Democratic party has already been blackmailed by data
gathered by this program? If they haven’t yet, give it at most one
more election cycle.

How would electing another batch of Democrats truly make things any
different?

What excuse would they grab hold of to do the same, and how long would that temptation of power take before they gave in to it?

My God, what ever happened to the plain meaning of the text of the 4th Amendment?

What ever happened to the plain meaning of the law being what it meant?

What ever happened to individuals actually running for office and
truly representing the interests of those around them in their
communities?

When was the last time that the outcome of elections for the House of
Representatives was not almost entirely a foregone conclusion?

It no longer matters if any individual candidate means well
personally, if they are a member of one of the two major parties they
are supporting a corrupt apparatus.

Would you sell your birthright for a mess of potage?

Do not vote for major party candidates if you still know what the
Spirit of America is.

If it still lives, prove it at the ballot box. Start write in
campaigns for independent candidates, and do not donate to the two
major parties. Vote with your wallet as well.

Vote the two parties out of power while you still can, as electronic
balloting will soon make anonymous voting a dream of the past, and it
will then be too late.

Ask these difficult questions, forward and post this message, and do
not take excuses for an answer.

-David Mercer
Tucson, AZ

This essay is public domain and may hence be distributed in any media
with or without attribution, in whole or in part.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 21 Comments

I know what you mean David. I had the same feelings over Bush & Cheney advocating the official use of *torture* by the US gov’t.

How can this even be a question? How?

December 30, 2005 @ 7:12 am | Comment

Richard
D. Mercer poses good and important questions for voter to consider and as he suggests vote for a better America and better congresspeople.

I favored Kerry over Bush, but looking ahead Kerry would not be a choice now in an open field. He is too compromised. Ron Paul seems to be a straight thinker and shooter. The Demo from Wisconsin or Minnasota seems to have courage and toughness. But where are other individuals that can and will lead for the good of “We the people” and not the rich and corporations or strickly for the poor?

December 30, 2005 @ 7:14 am | Comment

I agree with much of this but can’t go along with the “no major parties” part of it. The whole Nader run is one of the main reasons we have Bush instead of Gore in the White House to begin with. And nobody can tell me the US and the world wouldn’t be a hell of a lot better off with Al Gore as President.

December 30, 2005 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

“And nobody can tell me the US and the world wouldn’t be a hell of a lot better off with Al Gore as President.”

I spat soda all over my iMac’s shiny new keyboard reading that.

December 30, 2005 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

Isn’t it supremely ironic that the GOP swiftboated Gore as being a “liar”, considering that their alternative, Dubya, has proved to be one of the most untruthful, deceptive, misleading presidents in the country’s modern history?

Jeez, we could’ve had a guy who authored a book on US energy independance. Instead we got a guy who reads books about baseball heroes.

December 30, 2005 @ 6:37 pm | Comment

Re Other Lisa’s comment about not supporting non-major parties: The argument about spoilers works both ways: Clinton probably wouldn’t have been elected had it not been for Perot.

Both major parties are corrupt beyond redemption (here I think Nader’s characterization of them as being different brands of the same product is perfectly apt); it’s time to push new ideas.

There is no rule in the Constitution that says there have to be only two parties: George Washington didn’t like political parties at all.

December 30, 2005 @ 7:12 pm | Comment

America’s great strength is that, in the long run, it tends to be self correcting. And from where I watch, that correction is beginning to take hold now as Congress and the Judiciary both begin to assert themselves against the expansion of executive power. We’re all able to be horrified and appalled because things like the NSA’s domestic surveillance program were revealed and are now being debated, which speaks to the strength of the system.

I think the current administration is a train wreck, and I am thoroughly disheartened by many of the things they have done. As a lefty, I also don’t generally like the general rightward tilt of the country. But if that’s what a majority of Americans want, that’s democracy. And being conservative doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with everything this administration has done, as we are increasingly seeing now.

America has been through self-consumptive bouts before. Remember the House Unamerican Activities Committee? And David himself invokes Herbert Hoover, no slouch at domestic surveillance either, and the civil war we fought just 150 years ago.

The country got through those episodes and it will get through this one too. So watch the government like hawks, and call it out loudly when it starts to take liberties with the trust of its employers (us). And vote for independents if that’s what moves you.

But a word of warning and one of optimism. Don’t assume that independents in power would act with saintly competence. The demands of governance have a way of bending the governors. (Put another way: power corrupts.) But, at the same time, don’t give up on the American spirit. Looks like it’s doing OK to me.

December 30, 2005 @ 7:27 pm | Comment

As long as terrorists and traitors are held up as your national heroes and ‘founding fathers’ I’d say America’s misguided and idealistic mythology is a source for its troubles…
Seriously, I could give cynical reasons as to why his ancestors fought such historical battles, giving more or less selfish reasons every one. Britain wouldn’t let the colonies expand by slaughtering its native allies while taxing them too much (No such argument for Liberty for Palestinians) or America letting Britain and then the USSR battle fascism alone for it (after the rest of Europe fell) until only after it too was attacked. Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny in the whole of the Western Hemisphere. Domino Theory everywhere else. This idea that America was always a shining and unerring beacon of righteousness and glory but now is consuming itself like a black hole is one suited for the Disney treatment.

December 30, 2005 @ 8:48 pm | Comment

Oh, Johnny K., you know that’s not what I meant! I think I must have typed that before coffee…

I was a big Gore supporter and I think he’d have been an excellent president…now I’m hoping he’ll think about running again…because it’s going to take somebody with a lot of executive experience who can hit the ground running to get a handle on the mess Bush will leave behind…

December 30, 2005 @ 9:12 pm | Comment

What I meant to say was…

Crap, I can’t even fix my own syntax right now.

Al Gore good. That’s what I meant…

December 30, 2005 @ 9:13 pm | Comment

Sorry, I’m just not that alarmed. Having lived through what Nixon, JFK, and Hoover got away with, and having studied enough history to understand about Harding, the Teapot Dome scandal, Aaron Burr’s attempt to carve off part of the country, Boss Tweed, and others, as well as Kansas City’s Pendergast machine, Daley’s Chicago machine, Connecticuts’ former governor in prison for corruption, the current Daley facing charges–

There has never been a time in our country’s history when the press has been so omnipresent. This includes the bloggers on the left and the right. Whether you liked the swiftboat veterans actions or not, Kerry was unable to come up with a satifactory answer. Bush is dealing with the latest NYTimes revelation.

We have tape recorders, video recorders, the web, computers, TV, radio and newspapers. Nobody can hide anything anymore. Remember the saying, Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead. It’s true.

I’ve been around a lot longer than David Mercer. That’s not a put down, but older people do tend to have a longer perspective. The state of reportage is better now than it was ten years ago, and a lot better than it was in the fifties and sixties.

I’m not saying everything is perfect. We have to pay attention.

But we don’t need to panic.

Mr. Mercer threw out a lot of problems. To be more effective, find the problem that most concerns you, then channel most of your efforts toward that. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. And nothing beats research to understand the problem. If you really understand how a problem works, and where the bodies are buried, and who’s getting paid, when you publicise it, you can draw some real blood.

December 30, 2005 @ 9:28 pm | Comment

I’m pretty alarmed, because I’ve lived under severa presidents and never saw anything even close to the unabashed sucking up to big business and the fuck-you attitude to those in need, let alone our foreign policy catastrophes. I suggest that we should be very alarmed. When the president recommends teaching Intelligent Design along with Evolution, when he approves torture, renditions and spying on Americans, and when he bankrupts the nation to fight an illegal and unwinnable war – well, we’ve simply never had such a wantonly irresponsible regime in control, at least not since the days of Teapot Dome.

Keir, while I agree with some of what you say, America has still been a good place to live and the place where the world’s oppressed have always wanted to go, for some pretty good reasons. We still, even under Bush, have a working legal system that’s among the world’s best, and the proof will be that the law will be a major factor in Bush’s implosion, from Jack Abramoff to Karl Rove to other scandals where justice is still blind.

December 30, 2005 @ 10:31 pm | Comment

And I agree with boo and Will about both parties being incompetent and corrupt. But the Dems are a shade or two better. I don’t expect “saintly” competency from the Dems, just something a bit better. Clinton would never have nominated a Harriiet Meiers, or let a Michael Brown run FEMA. Look at the company Bush keeps – these are not men of any integrity or competence.

December 30, 2005 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

I agree with you Richard; the proof is in the contributions Americans have made to the world and in its past as a haven for those fleeing truly terrible regimes. Britain owes America its gratitude for Lend-Lease before it contributed its soldiers, and Europe strikes me as hypocritical for congratulating itself for these past decades of peace while forgetting it was America that made the peace and its money that allowed for the Europe of today to flourish again. But I get fed up when I hear Americans go on about how Marshall Plan was the most unselfish act in history while forgetting that it was to prevent the US from sliding into another post-war depression rather than any altruistic motives. I certainly appreciate others asking how their country can be bettered, but it gets a bit too much to read here at times how wonderful the country is and how everything was rosy and bright until now.
I’d be worried about future individual liberty in the US if I were an American right now, but then this isn’t the 50s under McCarthyism, 60s where you’d be FORCED to fight an unjust war, 70s under Nixon (remember him> Managed to bomb a country to hell without telling anyone), 80s under a regime exporting experts in torture to LEDCs in its neck of the woods, 90s where the Prez will bomb Iraq and the Sudan to divert attention from his philandering etc. Probably Clinton was better for Americans than Bush (I take it Mercer’s concern here is for Americans than Johnny Foreigners having to live with the consquences of ‘selfless’ American actions), but then you had the chance to vote Bush out last election. I think Richard you do a tremendous public service in using this wonderful tool to alert others to what’s going on in China and the US which others try to conceal; the fault is in your countrymen who don’t bother to share such zeal and concern. They are better off and with more leisure time than their fathers and fore-fathers- that they can’t be bothered strikes me that a can’t-be-bothered president is perfect for them.

December 30, 2005 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

I’ll scope out a little bit.

Main things I see wrong with this country:

Corporations have too much control of government policies. We need to reform the lobbying system, or something to that effect.

The separation of church and state seem to be weakening. If somehow China can be a democracy maybe they can do this better than we have here.

In today’s age, where enemies have no governments, I don’t have any issues with survellience given we can ensure it is used solely for counter terrorism and not used to keep any government faction or party in power. The founding fathers of this country didn’t have to deal with electronic communication and Sim cards that can be swaped every day.

December 31, 2005 @ 1:14 am | Comment

Probably Clinton was better for Americans than Bush (I take it Mercer’s concern here is for Americans than Johnny Foreigners having to live with the consquences of ‘selfless’ American actions), but then you had the chance to vote Bush out last election.

Not really. With Diebold in Bush hands, the issue was never in doubt.

Michael

December 31, 2005 @ 4:36 am | Comment

Keir,

Your understanding of WWII is whacked. The USSR entered the war only after Hitler broke the non-aggression pact formed with Stalin. The USSR was not fighting to rid the world of fascism; it was merely defending its territory. One of the causes of WWII was Treat of Versailles, mostly orchestrated by Britain and France, which carved out chunks of German territory and gave them to other European countries and demanded reparations that Germany could not pay.

December 31, 2005 @ 9:17 am | Comment

Thinking outside the box of status quo politics we can achieve a
peoples voice by rallying all voters to find our common ground
for change while creating massive mandates on a wide-based
variety of issues. This accomplishes a Grassroots Platform upon
which we can place a devoted leader. By electing a 2010 president
avowed to uphold the “PEOPLES VOICE PLATFORM” … we the
people have empowered massive mandated change towards a
healthier state of the union. We would be further empowered to
demand that all governing officials become avowed to the “P.V.P.”

This would be a bi-partisan effort where we simply agree to agree
or disagree about proposed issues and choose to honor “MAJORITY”
voice on each issue {sidestepping major party political vacuums}
while embracing the honorable elements of DEMOCRACY ~ !

The intended implication is to ~revolutionize~politics~ by
starting over from the ground up … instead of expecting our
elected leaders to read our minds {as if they would dare-to-care
under our existing special interests-biz-as-usual-politics}.

“GRASSROOTS PEOPLES VOICE PLATFORM” is a formula to wake up
apathetic non-voters and to overcome the divisionary defeatism
of the 2 major party system which has left us powerless in it’s wake
{in regard to much needed & overdue change}. [One last thought
as a voting citizen proposition {what do you all think about
removing 3 laws from the books for every new law added...perhaps
a decade or so latter we could get down to a 2-laws-out for 1-law-in
ratio.] Viva la http://www.Peking Duck.ORG {we’re justed getting started}!

December 31, 2005 @ 3:45 pm | Comment

The USSR was not fighting to rid the world of fascism; it was merely defending its territory

No doubt that is why it annexed Poland and invaded Finland prior to the beginning of WWII.

December 31, 2005 @ 5:52 pm | Comment

Thank you Harvey Lee White, that was the direction I was trying to point in near the end. With all due respect to the faithful Dem. voters on this forum, I think that both major US parties need to be superceded by new ones.

Remember, most potential voters in the US DON’T VOTE!! A grassroots American Unity Movement could sweep up the best of the Green and Libertarian ideas and potentially knock out both parties in a Presidential election. Move of a Unity List type of thing for those more familar with European modeled parties.

And to Bruce and some others above, yes, I’m only 34, but I’ve read my history and am clearly aware of all of those defects and scandals in the American past. I understand that the “Myths of the Founding” are just that, myths and ideals that have never and will never be fully met.

But we’ve gotten a hell of a lot better over the years at living up to them in many areas, and the apologists for the NSA nonsense strike me as having completely lost what the Spirit of America is supposed to be all about.

Cheers,

-David

December 31, 2005 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

What scares me the most is that so few people in America realize what the outside world actually thinks of America as a whole.

The world looks very different when you are on the inside, and until people (and the governemnt) wake up to this, more 9/11s are inevitable.

January 2, 2006 @ 2:28 am | Comment

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