I keep waiting for the glimmer of hope, the silver lining. In fact, I am often promised it, but it is so rarely delivered.
I am speaking of the recent spate of “Is America Doomed?” articles that have cropped up of late as our government has so clearly demonstrated its uselessness, cowardice, gluttony, laziness, and short-sightedness, aided and abetted by a media with that covers the goings-on with all the depth of middle school cafeteria gossip.
Two of these doom articles come to mind; both of them espouse hope, and then offer none. I’ll go easier on the first, Paul Krugman’s piece in today’s New York Times. The false hope is probably more the fault of editors, or because he is trying for a pithy title that fits the thesis of his piece. Entitled “America is Not Lost,” one might think that Mr. Krugman intends to buck us up. Alas.
We’ve always known that America’s reign as the world’s greatest nation would eventually end. But most of us imagined that our downfall, when it came, would be something grand and tragic.
What we’re getting instead is less a tragedy than a deadly farce. . . . Well, America is not yet lost. But the Senate is working on it.
Well, that hurt. Mostly, I am disappointed with the promise offered by The Atlantic‘s James Fallows for his cover piece which boldly claims to know “How America Can Rise Again.” Hooray! Like the phoenix, we can rise again!
Only Fallows’ piece offers no evidence at all to support the cheery headline. If anything, Fallows makes clear why America is not “rising” any time soon, and that the best we can hope for is to muddle through by gnawing away at the edges of policy, stepping around the cracks and mines, and hope America doesn’t turn into Mad Max. Despite some tepid examples of America’s toughing it out in rough times and coming out mostly better for it, the real points we are left with are that a) our institutions are incapable of addressing the serious, grave, imminent threats to our security and well-being and b) we haven’t the leaders, national will, or existing mechanisms to do anything about it. Rise again!!!
Lawrence Lessig’s major piece on changing Congress in The Nation offers no solace, for even though it is supposed to be a prescription to saving us from ourselves (or, more to the point, saving Congress from itself), it is clear that the changes he would like to see enacted could never, ever be passed by the very Congress he damns. Rise again!!!
Look. The Democratic Party is feckless, disjointed, and several vertebra short of a spinal column. The Republican Party is not only unserious about governance, but it’s greedy, and at times downright malicious and vengeful to boot. The Tea Party movement, regardless of how it is being portrayed lately by the mainstream media, as some “genuine” uprising of concerned citizens, is an excuse to celebrate willful ignorance, xenophobia, racism, and religious intolerance–why this is not completely obvious is beyond me. The progressive movement can’t decide whether to prop up the Democratic Party’s festering corpse and engage in a generation-long retelling of Weekend at Bernie’s or to nobly go down with the ship of state saying, “Well, at least we tried.” What, out of this morass, is supposed to rise up and save us all?
I was among the millions who thought it might be Obama. As the man we sort-of-re-elected president with 52% of the popular vote once said, “Fool me once, shame on…shame on you…y’fool me, can’t get fooled again.”