Donald Trump may be the ultimate con man, having convinced about 25% of the American public who voted for him that he was a populist interested in helping the working class. His recent cabinet appointments of banksters and corporate elites prove otherwise. Although the prospect of this man as president for the next 4 years is frightening to even contemplate, it’s not really Trump that’s the problem. He is just a symptom of the deeper problem we have in America: the fact that our country is morally and ethically bankrupt.
For at least the last half century, we have lived in a culture not of self-awareness, but of self absorption — a culture in which concern for the greater good has been replaced by a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. Racism, misogyny, and xenophobia are ingrained in our culture. We have just covered it over with political correctness so we can deny how extensive an issue it really is. But just like an alcoholic, we can’t begin to recover unless we admit we have a problem.
Just try to hint that the US is not the greatest country in the world and you’ll be labeled a traitor, despite the fact that we are number 1 in some of the worst statistics possible. We are first in rates of obesity, divorce, incarceration, gun deaths per capita, infant mortality, rape, murder, and student loan debt, to name just a few. Meanwhile, we are last in paid sick days, paid maternity leave, income equality, and programs that reflect a society that cares for its people.
Far too often, the poor, working-class white population votes against their best interests. It’s easier for them to believe that an immigrant or a person of color is stealing their livelihood than to accept that a wealthy white billionaire doesn’t have their best interests in mind, and that there is no such thing as The American Dream.
The reality is that the system is set up to ensure there will always be a huge gap between the rich and the poor because the elites want it that way and most people don’t care enough to do anything about it. We are a country that does not like to take personal responsibility for anything, particularly if it requires effort. We would rather have someone else take care of everything so we can go back to watching Monday Night Football.
The average American barely gives a passing thought to the suffering we are causing to innocent civilians around the world in the 7 countries on which we are currently dropping bombs. Unless it’s in their own backyard, they just don’t care. Imagine just a single one of those bombs suddenly dropping on your home while you are in the middle of dinner, killing your children, husband, wife. What is unimaginable for us is daily life for some.
For centuries, Western culture has been dominated by white men obsessed with empire-building. They feel it is their God-given right to invade less developed countries, steal their resources at will, and then expect the conquered to be grateful to us for “liberating” them from their backward ways. We commit mass murder around the world and don’t think twice about it. The hubris is astounding, and like Rome, it will ultimately be the instrument of our downfall.
Fears of Trump becoming the next Hitler are unnecessary because we’re already there. Hitler may have gathered the Jews into extermination camps to systematically murder them, but we have been systematically murdering Muslims in their own countries for at least the past 26 years. An estimated 4 million Muslims have been killed due to our wars. The genocide is the same, just under a different façade.
The very founding of our country is a prime example. White Europeans arrived here in the 17th century and began to commit genocide against the indigenous Americans practically from day one. Those atrocities continue to this day in the form of government-approved militarized mercenaries violently attacking peacefully protesting Native Americans with rubber bullets, pepper spray, sound cannons and concussion grenades.
We seem to have forgotten that we were once the immigrants here. Every US citizen, unless they are from one of the many indigenous tribes that were here far before the first pilgrims, has an immigrant ancestor. Yet it’s amazing how many people say it’s the immigrants who are hurting our country. Like your own great-grandparents once did, most immigrants work hard to establish their lives here. A long-term study has shown that immigrants do far more good for the economy than harm; however, the oligarchy wants to distract you from knowing who the real welfare queens are: the banks and our corporate-owned government.
Congress doesn’t want you to know that they are the reason why you have unaffordable health care. They are the reason our youth are drowning in student debt, and could never dream of making nearly as much money as their parents did — all while they find money to bail out the banks. Congress never has a problem funding more than 50% of the annual budget for the benefit of the military industrial complex, and never have to worry about losing their 100% government-paid health insurance.
As Noam Chomsky and Martin Luther King said, America is socialist for the rich and capitalist for the poor. We allow our government to bail out the banks while working people lose their homes. The wealthy like to maintain a comfortable gap between themselves and everyone else. If everyone is wealthy, nobody is. How could they continue to feel superior? The far-right white supremacists (often oddly called alt-right) have massive fears of immigrants and minorities, believing they are the ones responsible for the disappearance of what they always believed to be their racially guaranteed upward mobility.
Our educational system is a joke; the oligarchy does not want an educated population. If Americans were actually taught to think for themselves, they might begin to question government policies. For example, I’ll bet you didn’t know that our income taxes do not fund federal spending. So any government official claiming there is not enough tax money to fund universal health care, higher education, etc. is either ignorant or flat-out lying.
But even if it’s not your “hard-earned dollars” that would pay for these vital programs, what type of person thinks that any human being does not have the right to decent health care? Universal health care is not even a question in every other Western country, all of which have some form of it. People in these countries almost universally state that health care is an inalienable human right.
It’s no wonder the Kardashians and reality TV shows like The X Factor and American Idol are so popular, not to mention Trump’s own show, The Apprentice. We glorify unbridled wealth, cutthroat competition, and cruelty. The meaner and more demeaning, the better. We shore up our huge insecurities by belittling others, whether they are TV contestants, women, or minorities.
None of this will change until we make significant changes to our ethical code. We need to learn from the Native Americans and adopt a different way of looking at our existence on this planet. Much can be learned from what’s happened at Standing Rock. The indigenous peoples of this country understand that everyone is their relative. What harms one of us harms all of us. They have respect for the earth upon which we all must live and which provides us with food and water. They have astoundingly met brutal violence with only love and compassion.
Privatization must end. The earth’s natural resources should be owned by all of humanity collectively. Nobody should have the ability to make a profit on a natural resource. Along with a minimum wage, there also needs to be a maximum wage. No more allowing a small handful of people to hoard money in amounts so large they could never possibly spend it all, when meanwhile their fellow citizens are struggling to feed their children.
We seem to have lost our sense of compassion for other human beings. Yet we wonder how Donald Trump won the presidency? We need to take a serious look in the mirror and see the ways in which Trump is simply a reflection of the darkest parts of ourselves and examine where it comes from, rather than running from it. At that point, we can make conscious changes and become a better people.
A striking example of this is the stirring ceremony that occurred at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in early December, in which US military veterans asked forgiveness from the Native Americans for the numerous crimes the military had committed against them. Recognizing and admitting our part in these atrocities allows for a beginning in healing the world instead of harming it.
We must always try to remember that we are all members of the same human race living on the same fragile planet. When we make significant changes to our outlook on others and on the world around us, we will finally stop getting leaders like Trump.