The Downfall of America
February 11, 2015
Saw a bunch of folks decrying the downfall of America and sharing pithy videos where TV characters railed about how much better America used to be when “we were united as a team.” Quite frankly, some things deserve a long-form reply.
Dear folks who bemoan that “America was so much better back then”
Shut the fuck up. No, really. Just shut up.
Maybe I’ll be quiet for a minute and you can tell me which specific America you have in mind? 1950’s? 1980’s? 1850’s?
It’s OK. I’ll wait…..
I get that America is fuckin’-A-awesome. It offers so much to so many people. It has created more value and more progress than probably any other society in the history of the entire earth. Actually it still does.
But let’s get serious for a minute. Which “magic decade” should we go back to? Which time period provides more opportunity for literally everyone than America today? When you look at your daughters, as I look at mine, can you tell them, “because of where we are now you are more able to do whatever you choose than at any point in this nation’s history?” Yes, you can.
Is this country perfect? Hell no. Nothing is perfect. If you want to talk perfection then we have nothing to talk about.
Let’s look at a few things. Sure, I’m set. I’m a 6 foot tall white man. I’ve benefitted from over 200 years of affirmative action. Before you get bent out of shape try looking up the definition of the word, “benefit.” It’s an “advantage” it’s not an all-encompassing gift. I put myself through school, both undergrad and graduate. I’ve worked a lot of hours and still have a LOT more hours to work. That said, I know I have benefitted from several things. One of the things I have benefitted from is 200 freakin’ years of people treating white men better than anyone else in this country.
It makes me laugh especially when my brown-skinned friends yearn for our better days gone by. Tell me honestly, when was life so much better for you? When you joined the Navy and you were only allowed to be a steward (eg. a servant) but you were not allowed to even be an officer let alone rise to the level of command? When you weren’t allowed to buy property in most neighborhoods?
America is great, but it’s not some failed ass nation-state.
Was America great? Hell yeah. Is America still great? Seriously – do you really think this is a problem? Jesus people.
I know there are still societal limits placed on girls (like my daughters), but I also know that, unlike any other time in the past, they truly have almost any door open to them that they wish to pursue. Do they want to be a lawyer? They can do that. Do they want to be a plumber? They can do that. Do they want to be a stay-at-home mom and raise kids? They can do that.
Do they want to do all three at some point in their lives? Yes, they can do that too.
One of the most amazing things that has happened in my lifetime has been the election of a black man to be be President of the United States of America which is, arguably, the most powerful position on this planet. Does this mean we are “post-racial?” Fuck no. Does it mean he is infallible? Of course not. What it means is for 200 years only one type of person was allowed to run this country. You could be from any background: rich or poor. You could have any hair color. You could come from any sate in the Union. You could be from just about any Christian denomination (mostly), but you had to be White. Barrack Obama broke through that glass ceiling, and I’m still amazed when I see a man of color speaking during the State of the Union. Quite frankly it makes me incredibly proud. Things are not perfect, but we are marching forward.
Is America worse than what it was?
For that to be true you’d have to show me during which decade things were so much better.
I’m open to suggestion. Show me when.