Where did the American united national character go?

A long time ago, in my youth in Connecticut, I remember a really different country than we have now. I didn't learn about the Federal Government through C-Span, which, of course, didn't exist back then, but through the Bristol Press and the Hartford Courant (and, occasionally, the Waterbury Republican.) These were the newspapers that came to our house, either by paper boy or by my father bringing them home at night from the Bristol Pharmacy after the 10 PM close. My parents were moderate Republicans (a concept which doesn't seem to exist any more), but some of my family were Democrats (My Uncle Pete, my Grandfather, my Aunt Helen... etc.) They all got along together. And they were part of a middle class that spent my first thirty years on this globe (I'm 65 next Tuesday) increasing their social and financial strength in a growing economy that was available to most of the population...not just the top 1%. I tripped over a quote from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a two term Republican and hero of WWII... Republicans and Democrats respected the man... that relates to our latest political conflict. Ike said this on November 8, 1954:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

Now it seems that those of negligible number or obvious stupidity are no longer a tiny splinter group, but a small control force with names like Koch Brothers, or Rupert Murdoch, or Grover Norquist, who are adamantly against the country solving it's economic problems by fair taxation of all economic levels. Nor do they want the remaining middle class, or the even poorer classes that much of that middle class is joining, to have access to adequate Social Security (if they have access to it at all) or Medicare or Medicaid or Food Stamps... you pick out any of the civil advancements we've made over the decades and it seems that this small control force is guiding the Republican Congress members into national devastation. Part of their secret weapon in defying Ike's prediction is in the creation of the Tea Party... getting a group of middle class or lower people to commit crippling torments on themselves... and then blaming progressives, and, indeed, our President for them. How did the rich get the not rich to carry out their self mutilation? One way was to spend lots of money on Republican politicians, on political lies during elections and on encouraging racial and social segregation feelings among folks with a history of the same and a minimum of intellectual dexterity. You can tie this to a previous administration (Read Bush II) that decimated the money kept aside for Social Security, leaving filing cabinets loaded with IOUs that were never intended to be paid while they cut the settled tax rates for the very rich... tax rates that never stopped them either being rich or getting richer ... leaving no more expected income for the needs of government. And the Tea Party folks BELIEVED all this crap. What must the laughs have been like at the Koch Brothers family cocktail gatherings? What was John Boehner's thoughts of getting progressive legislation stopped as he played at his golf outings? Those of us entering the world of Social Security/Medicare supported retirement have much different thoughts. Those who will retire ten years from now have even less positive expectations to think about. I am frustrated with much of what is happening... and aside from making statements in my blog, or on my podcast or on the Friday Morning radio show where I am a co-host... don't see what I can really do about it. I continue to vote and never miss an election, but my level of winning, the level of any progressives winning, is well below 50%... I live in the midst of conservatives and small thinkers, and of Democrats who might as well be Republicans. We have Corporations that are treated by our Supreme Court's conservative majority as individual citizens, with no control of the money spent by such private power. We have oil companies that make billions in profits, but receive billions from our government as subsidies. There is another President, even earlier than Eisenhower, who also had a vision of what could happen in our society:

"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. ”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Be afraid, my friends. Be very afraid.

Tags: Social Security, Medicare, political groups, Conflict (all tags)




This is a very well written post, and I'd like to highlight a few points of what the author has said - and to explore the subject he's talking about.


Primarily, the author seems to be driving at the concept of an American identity. In the past, we were pioneers. Then, we became, for lack of a better term - a sort of American Graffiti - A post-50's era of prosperity and world leadership.


In the 60's , under the intellectual leadership of a few people in New York, the focus of our American identity changed.  Bear in mind that I'm measuring this from elected officials and not from the mass public - America took a turn to the right. And we began to embark upon wars of convenience.

Haliburton (then - K B R ) was awarded massive post-vietnam contracts to rebuild.  Destroy a country that had nothing to do with us?  It seems as if in the summer of 1966 the entire country fragmented into two parts - and the largely New York Based intelligentsia that tried to push America back to "moral values" and conservatism, won major victories... this was, for lack of a better term, the beginning of an era of control by corporation.

Whatever social value the other movements of the 60's held,  the political reality was that the institutions of American power were usurped by corporations.


British Petroleum delivers to our shores the second largest ecological disaster in the history of our country and then, this year, posts a record profit.

So called 'conservatives' and republicans rally for BP to receive subsidies and government bailout to help them clean up the mess they themselves made.

So it's not really about conservatism. And it's not about progressivism.  It's not about isms. It's about us.

We should be afraid. The author warns us. This shows his clarity and grasp of the subject.

But once you have settled within you a sense of clarity that often follows fear. You are left with the philosophy of action.

Now is the time for us to rebel. And seriously. Which party would be more fun to attend. A tea party, or a progressive party.


I vote progressive.

by Trey Rentz 2011-05-20 01:05PM | 0 recs
Know Your Enemy

To fully understand how the American National Character was formerly understood by the Conservative Movement visit Ten Conservative Principles at the Kirkwood Institute.

by nanobot 2011-05-21 07:48AM | 0 recs
Know Your Enemy

To fully understand how the American National Character was formerly understood by the Conservative Movement visit Ten Conservative Principles at the Kirkwood Institute.

by nanobot 2011-05-21 07:48AM | 0 recs
RE: Where did the American united national character go?

I am 72 and was reared in Texas, but our experiences are eerily identical.  I read in your words and tone the same disappointment and disgust that I feel concerning the manner in which Americans have descended to their baser level.   

by captain dan 2011-05-21 06:41PM | 0 recs
RE: Where did the American united national character go?
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