Could Now Be the Time for an American Spring?
When I left America, I didn’t realize how much I would miss the landscape, weather and some of the cities I had lived and visited. But I had to leave it: I felt it had become too dangerous; expensive, polarized and corrupt. Many expats like me left the US for the same reason, though the circumstances and conditions may vary. I miss Tasty cakes; smoke turkey wings and professional basketball.
Americans believe that anything is possible and doable. In every American there is also this notion of greatness that is independent of ethnicity and culture. This resilience has made us in many ways, we believe, unique. We are inventive; resourceful and courageous — yet, often hard for westerners of other nationalities to understand. Anthony Hopkins said once in a T.V. interview that he loved America because of this. He said people in his native country (England) were extremely pessimistic about life and usually discourage the hopeful effort of a person’s ideas. Having had the occasion to work with the British like the ones Hopkins describes, I was elated to hear that I wasn’t just stereotyping my colleagues.
Americans like to look at themselves as a people of an indomitable spirit. An intelligent breed made of the stuff of legends.
How our ‘smarts’ convinced us to trust our current government like we once trusted King George—comfortable in the traditions of the abstraction phraseology of liberty, freedom and democracy, I can’t say. At least this was the case before the Republicans (and their businesses) divided the country’s natural and business resources like wild dogs tearing apart a caribou carcass on the Serengeti.
As King George ignored the concerns of his subjects so the US government has done likewise in our time. Big businesses took over the White House; stacked the judicial branch with appointments that effectively undermined fifty years of civil liberty advances and, within the span of thirty years, nullified the Bill of Rights and formed a federal police state and an imperialistic global empire the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Tito ruled Japan.
We went from being bullish during Reagan; to the ‘trickle down economics’ of big daddy Bush to the outright delusional rhetoric of G.W.’s weapons of mass destruction– as ‘the one percent’ (those who possess most of the country’s wealth) got richer selling mortgages and ‘futures.’
When the smoke cleared in the ensuing economic collapse, the one percent got their money back from the American taxpayers for what they claimed to have lost because people couldn’t pay their loans; after which they called in the notes (foreclosed on homes, etc; the properties claimed lost that merited ‘the federal bailout’).
I think this what they mean by’ having their cake and eating it too.’
As a result, many of the ever gullible ninety-nine percent (known as ‘Main Street’) became institutionally enslaved by debt to the banks (and other interests known as ‘Wall Street’). Some became ‘the working poor’ or while others were left to fend for themselves as homeless indigents.
Such a strangle hold the corporate elite and banks have on the government, they have a democratic president following in goose step the civically callous policies of the previous republican fat-cat administration without even the slightest pretense of doing otherwise (so much so, political commentators refer to the Obama Presidency as ‘Bush II’).
I had almost given up my belief that the American people would figure it out and get mad or at least a little annoyed. Their lack of cognizance of what is happening to their country has become the real ‘legend’.
When I introduce myself these days, I have a strong urge to apologize for being American.
Despite this, I miss her rivers, lakes, mountains and the innumerable trees that grace her avenues and parks; her fame rain-swept cities like New York, Chicago (and even Philadelphia) on a summer afternoon and her towns, the quaint, beautiful and campy as well as the burlesque, small and large, that exist between them. I miss her snowy winters; my hayfever in the blooms her summer and spring, and her colorful New England autumns. America is unique in that what is in the great world is also between her borders.
What I miss the most is her promise to be able to live a good life, no matter who I am or was, as an equal to other men. I left because I refuse to live as a slave to a bank, a job, department store or a government that had forgotten its purpose to facilitate the most important promise of America, the promise of a good life for all its citizens.
Are the Brooklyn Bridge Protests and other such demonstrations now taking place in the cities of America the beginning of ‘the American spring’?