The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Monday, January 05, 2009

"The Wisdom of the American People": Give Me a Break

You hear the cable-TV pundits talk about it all the time - “the wisdom of the American people.” Well, they have to sell their books and magazines and programs. Mustn’t ruffle the public’s feathers. But really. I think the one who got it right was George Carlin, who said it all: “The public sucks.” Well, at least an unfortunately high percentage of them do.

I supported Barack Obama and was happy to see him win. I think 53 million people voted for him. Good. But we have to remember that something like 47 million voted for McCain. Unbelievable. That after eight years of hell with Bush and Cheney. That after it was known uncontrovertibly that McCain had supported ninety percent of Bush’s policies. Yes, policies like unending, unjustified war; environmental pollution; destruction of citizens’ rights; policies that resulted in radical economic decline; and on and on.

Yes, the wisdom of the American people. How blasted stupid can they be? Who the hell are they? What happened to their brains? As the headline read after Bush was re-elected: “How can so many millions of people be so dumb?”

I know that the reader is aware of all this. But what I want to stress is that this degeneration of the American psyche is really the central critical problem which faces this nation. It is nothing less than frightening. Benjamin Franklin spoke candidly about the issue over two-hundred years ago, saying: “This form of government will work only so long as the population hasn’t become corrupt.” The dictionary definition of the word “corrupt” includes : “ altered for the worse; debased; lacking integrity.” How “debased” are the millions of Americans who give silent- or not-so-silent- consent to the destruction and slaughter of thousands of human beings - all for the financial profit and power-mania of their rulers? How altered for the worse are people who consistently vote against their own best interests? And how stupid, for that matter? One can make excuses for them and maintain that they’ve just been duped by the right-wing propaganda; but it seems that the sad truth is that a very substantial number of them just favor a basically fascistic governmental system. If that’s the “American Way,” God help us indeed.

The brutal fact is that I’m talking about well over half the American population. It is difficult to estimate with precision; but that appears to be a safe bet. And we must disabuse ourselves of any notion that they will change: “Those who refuse to see become blind.” They are essentially robotic and tightly programmed and they constitute a virtually permanent bloc. They will present an ongoing, relentless threat to the basic values of this nation. And they think they’re so right. Apparently, unjustified war is right. Torture is right. Enriching the few at the expense of the many is right. They wave their flags and raise their crosses while all this goes on.

And you must be noticing the general tenor that’s becoming standard behavior in this society. Our glorious public asserts its “equality” by being rude and inconsiderate to just about everyone. Bad manners are in. Civility- if they can even conceive of it- is old-fashioned. And more and more they even talk as if they were computers- devoid of individual judgment, human warmth or common sense. Narcissistic and selfish to the point of being sociopathic ; untrustworthy; mercenary; and amoral. You must have heard about the recent poll that was conducted among American high-school students recently: Over 60% of them admitted readily to lying and cheating regularly; and over 90% of them said they were quite comfortable with their behavior. Well, what kind of example have their “leaders” provided?

It’s not that there aren’t millions of sane and basically decent Americans left. There are. It’s just that it’s becoming more and more difficult for them to function comfortably in an increasingly negative and hostile social milieu. The dog-eat-dog society: When I was younger I thought that to be an exaggeration. No longer.

Enter Obama. A brilliant campaign based on mobilizing millions of Americans fed up with the corrupt status quo. My impression is that his stated objective of positive change and unification is genuine and sincere. But I don’t see him as a cow-eyed idealist. He has to know what he’s up against. He made two remarks during the campaign that were quite telling: One- which raised quite a fuss- was the comment about the masses and their “guns and religion.” The other- which went largely unnoticed- was the line in his nomination-acceptance speech I think: “Government is not supposed to be against the people; it’s supposed to be for the people.” Those two statements really sum up what less eloquent people like myself have been trying to say for years. And when you think about it they are very strong positions, particularly the last one- because if the government is “against the people,” then the people would be entitled to overcome it by force if necessary. That’s really the central founding principle of our nation. Thanks to the genius of our Constitution we haven’t come close to armed rebellion in this country since the Civil War. But if things had continued in the direction they were going for long enough, who knows?

The critical problem that faces Obama as he enters the Oval Office is this robotic bloc- these essentially mindless millions, not to mention their hypocritical, fear-mongering leaders with their insane egos and bottomless pockets. They will be prepared to pounce on him from day one. In fact they’ve begun already. Their main tactic we know for sure: They’ll blame Obama for all the chaos and havoc which they themselves have brought about. The blame- transfer will be in full swing. This will be nothing like “loyal opposition.” This will be out-and-out sabotage of lethal potential. If they can get away with it, that is. Their plans to establish a permanent power-aristocracy of wealth founded on the fearful submission of millions of compliant subjects have been interfered with; and we can be sure they’ll do anything and everything they can not to lose what they’ve gained.

This all becomes so problematic. One doesn’t want to become the mirror image of the opposition in the process of attempting to defeat them. But they have to be defeated. One can use words like “compromise” or “accommodation” or what have you; but the fact is that the essentially un-American agenda that has been established and implemented by this immensely powerful cabal has to be obliterated. Nothing less. Otherwise we have to be willing to become a nation of serf-subjects begging for subsistence from the ruling masters of the Star Chamber. There was a rebellion against that sort of thing over two-hundred years ago: It was called the American Revolution.

You know the really frightening thing about these millions and their rulers is that conscience is bracketed out of their mind-set. You see, it really isn’t they who are implementing or tacitly supporting the needless slaughter of thousands of human beings. No, it’s just a function of “national security.” And no, it isn’t they who are depriving workers of fair wages and bargaining rights and pensions- and their jobs and healthcare for that matter. No, it’s just the “corporate agenda.” Torture and deprivation of legal and privacy rights? No, that’s not on their plate. Just “intelligence necessities” occasioned by the “war on terror.” There’s no end to the functional sociopathy. And they’re quite polite; go to church; don’t make scenes; help old ladies to cross the street; and give to charity. Guiltlessness. Salvation by abstraction. The American Way. Yes, very problematic.

I can’t even begin to say how all this will be resolved, if at all. But I think a very positive factor was the Obama campaign’s remarkable ability to gather and to mobilize vast numbers of people to actively support Obama’s candidacy and his agenda. The establishment of that counter-force was wisdom indeed. And based upon what I am hearing via emails from the Transition Team, it appears that the President-Elect is going in the right direction in terms of preserving, enhancing and expanding his people’s base and organizing them for specific, sustainable supportive work. Any real change will most certainly have to come from the grassroots up. And Barack Obama and his White-House staff and Cabinet will need all the help they can get, given the kind of organized opposition they will encounter. We’re playing for keeps now. Our life as a nation and as a people depends on the outcome.

I’m going to be optimistic. And I pray that optimism will be a self-fulfilling prophesy. If the President-Elect’s superb campaign is any indication of his potential ( and why wouldn’t it be? ), then we have good reason to expect the best. And who knows? Maybe I’m wrong about the un-changeability of some Americans. Perhaps good example and change that they can see and feel might wake them up. Godspeed to this challenging and crucial new enterprise.