A Broken Land

We are convinced the only two kinds of people in this nation are millionaires and those who will very soon be millionaires. There is little accommodation for failure. You are expected to pull yourself up by your bootstraps even if you were born into a family that cannot afford boots.

A Broken Land
The New "Joltin Joe" Has Not Left Nor Gone Away

“The government of the United States doesn't want peace. It wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war. It wants peace, but what's happening in Iraq? What happened in Lebanon? Palestine? What's happening? What's happened over the last hundred years in Latin America and in the world?”-Hugo Chavez

I am trying to be optimistic. The nature of Americans is to buy into the notion that anything is possible in our country. We are convinced the only two kinds of people in this nation are millionaires and those who will very soon be millionaires. There is little accommodation for failure. If you live in the United States you are expected to buy into the calculus that X amount of effort will always produce Y amount of results, which is, obviously, utter nonsense. Failure, however, is always your fault, not a flaw in the land of the free and the articulations of capitalism. You are expected to pull yourself up by your bootstraps even if you were born into a family that cannot afford boots.

This delusion that anybody and everybody can make it here is often central to the conflicts at the heart of our body politic. The successful, hurrying down that smooth, shining road toward a great horizon of affluence, do not wish to look into the ditch and see the losers struggling to climb back up onto the roadbed. They are there of their own accord. Why should we afford them a hand up when they might become reliant on assistance? America’s unresolved moral dilemma revolves around how much to help, and that unanswered question has almost always informed our politics and created the great divide between our two major political parties. How much government is too much government?

There is one Republican consultant who is famously quoted as saying his party will not be happy until government is “shrunk to the size that can be drowned in a bathtub.” The anti-Washington infection that has spread across the land began in earnest with Ronald Reagan, who once said, “The scariest words in the English language were, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” He quickly set out to make his hoary aphorism into a reality by blowing up the Air Traffic Controllers’ union to intimidate American labor and pretending that AIDS would go away if the feds would just ignore its increasing rate of fatality.

Trump made a similar assertion as the pandemic was spreading throughout the population when he said, “It’s going to disappear. It’s disappearing.” His proclamation, a barely subtle attempt to remove government from responsibility for managing the spread of the coronavirus, was made the day after he was released from being hospitalized for the disease. Spring weather, though, made him hopeful he would be shed of any responsibility for Washington’s involvement. “You know,” he said, “A lot of people think that (coronavirus) goes away in April with the heat, as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April.” Instead, millions subsequently died. What went away were family members, loved ones, children, and grandparents, while Trump talked of horse tranquilizer cures.

Rank conservatism has, historically, offered nothing but suffering to Americans. There is, in fact, no such brand of politics functioning in this country. It might be considered conservative to cut corporate taxes and believe the falsehood that freed capital will then be invested back into jobs and economic expansion, but that never happens. Nobody gets trickled down on. Investors are paid fat dividend checks and corporate boards buy back stocks at premiums to regain control of their companies from small shareholders. Hoarding capital and cutting taxes to giant businesses does little more than generate huge national debts for the government, and nobody does that better than “conservatives.” Trump and his massive tax cuts for business created a $7.2 trillion dollar increase in the federal deficit in the four years he was in office, a figure that presently accounts for 30 percent of the total national public indebtedness. Conservative George W. Bush cut corporate taxes just as he launched a war that would eventually cost a few trillion and left President Obama a historically high deficit, which the Democratic President cut in half before leaving office.

Conservatives do not act conservatively in this country. What they really want is a form of anarchy, an expression of the attitude that government’s only role is to pave roads, protect the border, and then get the hell out of the way. We are supposed to rely on our own “rugged independence” to succeed, a concept whose notional value is utterly worthless. Nobody makes it on their own. Wealthy business magnates like to claim they built their companies without government assistance but that obfuscates the investment of tax dollars in the infrastructure and common carrier laws that made delivery possible for their products, whether digital or physical. Governments build roads, harbors, and airports, keep them safe and operational, and provide regulations to offer some assurance consumers will not be buying unsafe drugs or food or fly in airplanes that have not met safety standards. When those rules fail, and an aircraft falls from the sky or the masses become addicted to opioids, the causes tend to be corporations cutting corners to increase profits and serve the capitalism that has made America an economic engine for much of the world.

He’s the boss, and that’s it,” Trump said

Argumentation over how much government, and its optimal role, is central to the division of the American electorate. We have split into camps that can no longer seem to compromise or find a middle ground that is best for our country. Progressive thinkers believe in government as the organizing principle of any society and that it gives life to a culture and an economy by creating an environment of opportunity. The conservative belief is that the larger the government the less freedom is offered to the individual. Their primary assertion is proved false by their own politics, which have taken away reproductive and even voting rights while banning certain books their standards claim ought not be available, and forcing their Christian religion into public institutions like schools and government. Conservatism explicitly is a resistance to change and the implications of that are we would have no equal rights for minorities or women or regulations to protect our air and water or even minimum wage laws.

If ruination comes to America, it will be driving a tank loaded with ballistic missiles of explosive partisan grievance. The symptoms of our potential collapse are already clear and manifest. The most recent former president just spent a day at his resort consorting with Viktor Orban, the dictator and authoritarian leader of Hungary. While his formal title is prime minister, Orban has made himself the source of all policy and government actions, discriminatory and unfair to millions who disagree. Undoubtedly, Trump sidled up close seeking pointers on how to run the U.S. into an even more diminished democracy. “He’s the boss, and that’s it,” Trump said.

Little Men Seeking Bigness

Trump has no formal authority as a former president but has managed to put his country into a precarious situation with his egotistical obstinance. After years of complaining from conservatives about a crisis at the border, Democrats and Republicans collaborated to create the strongest reforms in a half-century. The Senate easily achieved passage of the measure and there is a wide majority for the same result in the House. Trump, however, realizes that if the problem is solved in a bipartisan agreement, he will be robbed of his lead issue. Consequently, he has told House Speaker Mike Johnson, a man who claims God told him he was to play the role of Moses in America, to not bring the legislation to a vote on the House floor, and Johnson has complied. Partisanship by the sycophantic constituency of Trump’s GOP has ground America to a halt.

We are also failing to keep our geopolitical promises. Speaker Moses, also at the behest of non-president Trump, has blocked a funding measure that would re-arm Ukraine in its defense of the Russian invasion. The congressional stasis has NATO countries wondering about the reliability of the American commitment to the protection of Europe. While the house speaker seeks flattery from the putative dictator Trump, Ukraine is dying under assault with a constantly diminishing ability to respond militarily because of a lack of U.S. armaments. We continue, meanwhile, to become victims of our own military adventurism. The same funding legislation to help Ukraine would also continue the flow of weapons to Israel as it fights Hamas and razes Gaza. The IDF has averaged 100 deaths of children each day of the war, with a total dead of well over 30,000, and President Biden has yet to demand a cease-fire from the Israelis. Instead, he has ordered the U.S. military to build a pier to deliver food and medicine to Palestinians suffering under the Israeli assault and he has set the plan in motion even as he continues to supply Israel with bombs, artillery, tanks, and jet fighters. The absurdity of the contradiction appears to escape most voters, and, apparently, the president.

Biden, however, does not lie like the sociopath Trump, and his party. After the president had defied critics and dark expectations of failure with his State of the Union Speech, the GOP’s response to his list of accomplishments came from an Alabama U.S. Senator. Even in 2024, Republicans thought it was a good idea to put an accomplished woman in her kitchen, wearing a diamond-encrusted cross, referring to getting dinner on the table, and whispering about the horrors of a Biden presidency. One of the stories she told, however, was a complete fabrication about drug cartels that had sex trafficked a woman in the “Del Rio Sector,” Border Patrol parlance for a stretch of the Rio Grande that is identified by that city’s name. Britt described the woman being raped and tortured and declared that this was not even acceptable in a Third World Country. “Enough is enough, Mr. President,” she said into the camera, addressing Biden. What she did not say is that the woman was not assaulted in the U.S. but was in Mexico and the crimes committed against her were back during the administration of George W. Bush. Lying used to put an end to a politician’s career but to lie and deny has become a widely accepted tactic in the age of Trump.

@katzonearthThis isn’t going to make her like TikTok more. #katiebritt #sotu #stateoftheunion #lies #politicians #biden2024 #trump2024 #immigration #traffickingawarenes #mexico #bordersecurity #fyp

Jonathan Katz Catches Britt in a Lie

Lies work, of course, and their abundance has proliferated after the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, which gave corporations the right to invest almost without restraint in politics. Most candidates are doomed when they are opposed by big business donors and the victims are usually progressive thinkers who expect a functioning government. What the electorate wants tends to have very little to do with what is desired by the corporatists and the political action committees they front. AIPAC, the American-Israeli Political Action Committee, as a single example, has committed to spending $100 million dollars to defeat congressional candidates who do not unilaterally support Israel and the genocide it is committing in Gaza. Israel’s disproportionate response to the October 7th Hamas attack is costing Mr. Biden support on the left, particularly in the swing states of Michigan and Minnesota, which may help lead to the restoration of Trump.

It has become rationalization to suggest Americans have confronted greater challenges and triumphed in glory but that ignores our long history of adventurism with meddlesome wars and overseas political manipulations and assassinations. The scions of the Bush family are largely responsible for the tensions and the fire and warfare burning across the Mideast today even though public memory is short and understanding of the lies that launched their invasions is minimal. We also ignore the inescapable fact that our involvement in Central America’s politics and economies has much to do with the sea of immigrants now presenting themselves at our gates, and that the problem with drug cartels is a consequence of our national appetite for their narcotics. Accepting responsibility is not a part of who we have become in this country. Our disfunction will lead to our end, if not corrected. The party out of power refuses to cooperate with the party in power and fires accusations of blame for every crisis. When the public finally listens, there is a new party in the majority and the displaced officeholders have no reason to cooperate with those who lied them out of office. Little in the way of governance is achieved.

We are a broken land.

James Moore is a New York Times bestselling author, political analyst, and business communications consultant who has been writing and reporting on Texas politics since 1975. He writes frequently for CNN and other national media outlets and can be reached a jim@bigbendstrategies.com.