The American Experiment: Remixed
Updated: May 22, 2020
One can reasonably believe that our country is at a critical inflection point these days - politically, socially, perhaps even economically. Many say that our constitutional system of government is under fire. Many believe that the societal 'terms of engagement', generally, are being stressed in new and profound ways.
The question is, what do we do about this? Will we continue down this road of coarse and highly polarized political rhetoric and interaction. Will that continue to feed increasing social tension - racism, xenophobia, class angst? Or - do we do something to arrest these symptoms? One thing that seems clear, however, is that something has to give.
- Income inequality has grown to the highest level since the census began tracking it 50 years ago. The rich have gotten richer under policies like Trickle Down Economics and other tax schemes that have relieved tax burden from the wealthy and shifted it onto the backs of the poor and middle class, etc. The minimum wage, at $7.25/hour, remains dramatically under the living wage - the amount required for a family of four to meet minimum standards - of around $16/hour. In 2018, 14.3 million households suffered food insecurity. 50 million Americans live in poverty. 44 million Americans remain without health insurance. At some point, as Americans, we need to decide what kind of a country, what kind of a society, we want to live in. Will we continue to support the wealthiest among us squeezing even greater riches from the poorest? Do we care that our neighbors don’t have enough to eat?
- The FBI reported that hate crimes are at a 16 year high. Many Americans have felt emboldened of late to say and do things that they might not have years before. White nationalists are reconstituting and rebranding themselves - infiltrating into mainstream America with the purpose of spreading their ideology. Is this the kind of society that we want? Anecdotally, many people of color tangibly feel the rise in racial tension throughout their lives. Does anyone care? Will America live out its creed of a multi-racial blend of people from around the world or will we retrench to a set of separate and distinct contiguous communities?
Like it or not, our country has to look in the mirror. Those who see our current president as a problem might be deflecting responsibility from themselves and their communities. Is Trump the problem or the symptom of the problem?
It seems that America is ripe for some kind of social and political realignment. The country feels like it needs to reboot itself to reestablish some of its foundational sensibilities. Time will tell.