Am I alone in the world in that I think America is regressive, confused, and sliding into social chaos? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the collapse of American society (although never rule anything out), I’m talking about social justice and democratic process.
Under G.W. Bush with a cabinet of corporates, the corporates have increased their hold over politicians. Obama’s administration shows little interest in dealing with corporate influence over federal politics. In fact it was reported in 2009 that Obama had lifted the ban on lobbyists under pressure from – lobbyists! I’m wondering who runs the country?
The NRA and other gun lobbyists have successfully neutered any attempt by the Obama admin. to make sensible changes to gun ownership. I’m left wondering what was so difficult about imposing a background check? And why do ordinary Americans need military weapons?
But even at state level it is endemic. Only recently there was a report that stated California’s proposal to impose a plastic bag ban had been undermined and subsequently defeated by lobbyists for the plastics industry.
Thank goodness the Australian Government saw the problems, and in 1983 began with the Lobbying Registration Scheme, replaced in 1996 with the Lobbyists code of conduct, and strengthened in 1998. In 2011 a new code was enacted. It probably isn’t perfect, but it has an affect and it is backed by the criminal code.
There is the inability of the American nation to deliver justice in health care, and yes there are always pros and cons in any proposal, but why can’t the nation positively engage with the idea of health as a justice issue?
There has been much musing over American corporate control and gain through the invasion of Iraq, so that irrespective of the outcome of actual war and policing, the corporates have done very well. And there is concern over arms length dealings in developing nations where pressure is unscrupulously applied to overcome local feeling and process to accommodate corporate greed.
The status of women in America is, to my eyes and ears, wretched. The attitudes (and in many cases the sheer, and embarrassing, ignorance) of conservatives to issues like rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and the appalling attitude to abortion rights is just beyond logic.
The death industry has made a comeback in the States, Missouri is considering bring back the gas chamber (the mind boggles), and the culture of revenge plunges onwards (I can find no evidence of any reform process in the penal system in America).
The control of the media and the mind of the people, the continuing (though now deeply wounded) influence of Christian fundamentalists like Pat Robertson (if wives were spanked and disciplined the nation wouldn’t be in the mess it is in!!), the benign thinking of the Republican Party (GOP), are and should be a concern for everyone who values freedom and justice.
There are the usual constant reports about injustice; the homeless man arrested for using a flag to keep warm; two dogs shot by police for no substantive reason, and in one of the cases the owner arrested for filming the incident, the man who has been arrested because he chalked messages on the footpath out side the Bank of America critical of the bank, the arrest of a primary school aged girl for downloading music using torrents (older but pertinent news), a state (don’t recall which one) recently legislated to allow police to enter a home if the door was open (Why?), and so on.
Who remembers those seminal movies Silkwood and Erin Brockovich? What about Fair Game? For those of us outside America these have been movies of conscience, and alerted us to the quagmire of injustice and endemic corruption.
What about America and Global warming, the resistance to adopting climate measures and international treaties?
What about America and its corporate behaviour, Monsanto for example, and the way they treat farmers and their rights? Let alone the issues of greed through patent control and debt management.
And what about the NSA and spying?
Current issues are Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden. And in regard to Snowden America then interferes by forcing down the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales because it thought Snowden was on the flight. What would have happened if that had been the President of France, or the Prime Minister of Australia? Why is it so difficult for the government of America to step back and reflect for a moment and consider the possibility that it is being called to take stock of its behaviour and to look to positive change? What gives America the right to behave inappropriately?
Why should it matter to non-Americans? Because, as recent history has shown, American (Mcdonaldization) decisions and values affect every nation (commerce and trade, war, cultural affect through media, spying, treaties, copyright issues, and bullying). America needs to learn to be a positive global player, and not a bully.
What would it take for America to stop, take stock and turn aside from its current behaviour? Am I alone in hoping it will one day be transformed for the better? Wouldn’t it be a relief to hear a President say, “we don’t like that we’ve been caught out, but we’re going to reflect on this and address our behaviour.” (Waiting for the pink elephant to fly past!).
Still, I live in hope, and I pray!