A European friend asked me a question today, and I thought I might share the question and my response with you. I'm interested to know if I make sense, if I've overlooked or misunderstood or misrepresented anything, so please leave me a comment if you are so moved.
"Give me a clue what is going on with your politics at the moment. From this side of the pond there appears to be some anti Obama backlash, which is really sad, since the man hasn’t been in the job long enough yet, plus I don’t understand the fears re health care reform? Surely everyone would prefer a system where everyone can get and afford healthcare?"
There's a lot of cultural psychology I could share that would explain the reason we became the way we are in the first place, but I'll save that for the sake of brevity and staying on point.
But here's what you need to understand about the USA populace as applied to the question of our currently political situation:
Since the turn of the Nineteenth Century, when American Capitalists had the reins of the world market firmly in hand, the Controlling Class has been eager to control the worker classes in order to maintain their own power. We the People have been pointedly sold a bill of goods that we are the best and brightest in the world, and that America is the most important and powerful nation on this planet.
Post WWII, when our "enemies" were largely crushed, and our friends (think Britain and France) were in dire straits, believing that the US won the war for the rest of the world, we then wrapped ourselves in the myth of Super Yank, and declared the people who fought the war "The Greatest Generation." The ruling class, seeing a grand opportunity to continue their controlling role with the populace, set about building an entire industry (Madison Avenue and Advertising) on perpetuating the impossible myth.
So for the next twenty years, we grew our belief that we're the most fabulous country on the planet. And the ruling class, fully appreciating how herd-like we are when we believe we're all that, put their full resources behind the effort to keep us in Fantasyland.
Meanwhile, the Boomer generation was growing up without fear of war or want, and we thought this idea of working really hard without questioning the reasons behind what we did was stupid and too blindly docile. So we Questioned Authority. Loudly. Although there was great value in Questioning Authority, there was also a downside: in doing so, we taught others how to do it, too. That part becomes important later on.
Now, the Government didn't like being questioned; they didn't appreciate the sheep looking up, so they studied the whole experience and learned how to quash such a thing in the future. And boy howdy did they ever crush any attempt at rebellion during the Reagan and Bush years!
The knew that had to give the sheeple SOMEthing to make them feel happy and thus be more easily placated and thus controlled, so the entertainment industry; television, movies, sports, gossip, etc., and media of all kinds began overtly feeding us the Conservative line of "We are the greatest nation in the world."
During Bush Junior's regime, the propaganda was taken to the extreme. Any footage of wars in which our troops are involved or flag drapped coffins arriving home were not allowed broadcast on television (seriously, it was illegal during his years), and ONLY "Bush friendlies" were allowed into any situation where the little weasel was speaking. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Absolute control of the media, and thus of general public awareness created an environment in which things replaced feelings; where how much you had was more important than how much you were loved. Things became love. And by gum, Americans had more stuff than anyone else in the world. And we just knew other people in the world were jealous of all our cool stuff, and wanted to take it all away from us.
We were ripe, nay - pregnant with fear.
Enter Rupert Murdoch into this fertile field with his insidious tyranny of disinformation. Fox News became the (very loud) voice of the conservative right in the arena of coverage, a voice that was welcomed by all those people who were afraid someone might take away their stuff or The American Way. I do hope it's not lost on you that the final catchphrase of that sentence comes from Superman. As in "Truth, Justice, and The American Way." Too many Americans believe that phrase originated in some Founders document. *sigh* I'm ratholing again, I know. There's just so much slight of hand and so many half truths that really need some light shined on them that once I start sweeping around with my floodlight, it's hard to know where to stop. My apologies.
All of this brings us to the events of 9/11. On that day and of lot afterward, pretty much everyone (including me) was in a trembling state of stark fear/terror. And at that point, the whole ugly snake's nest of greedy power brokers came together as one. Murdoch and Fox News ramped up their rhetoric, and practically overnight Bush & Co stripped away entirely new levels of rights and privacy - in the name of security. And We the People begged the government to protect us from the bad guys at any cost. Murdoch and Bush were in complete control of this so-called "strongest nation." The only "strength" being displayed was abject fear, and a blustering anger in the face of a threat to our status and stuff.
So to sum up:
1. Madison Avenue and the Government and the Media figured out how to control the US Populace and abused the privilege
2. The US Populace believed the b.s. they were fed about being the Greatest Nation, and when the rest of the world's disagreement with that stance began to make itself known, the People were immediately scared shitless that their "perfect" country and life was going to be taken away.
3. The Power Brokers figured out how to parlay that fear into more money/power for themselves. Yep, Greed is of COURSE at the core of all this. Rat bastards.
Right. So now let's look at where things currently stand.
This country is divided, and divided deeply. A lot of the anger being generated toward Mr. Obama is a direct result of intense racism, but mostly that's just a leverage point used to get into the psyche's of the Fox News Followers. I'm not alone in feeling very frustrated by the Conservative Right's use of precisely the things they lambasted the Liberal Left for using, but more than that, I'm frustrated and seriously disgusted by my Countrymens' apparent disinterest in using even the tiniest portion of their higher brain function.
The impossible political/cultural/economic balloon of "keep 'em scared and sedated so they'll keep making us money" burst shortly before Bush left office from the terrible pressure of the Greedy Bastards constant sucking whatever rights or monies or power they could access. This left a no-win situation for whoEVER took over the White House. I believe the Power Brokers did whatever they could to help Obama win, simply because they KNEW how easy that situation would be to manipulate via Fox News - bile and bilge outlet for the Country. Here's a reasonable analysis of Fox News and the Stoopid Sheeple (my term, not his): http://www.turnoffyourtv.com/networks/foxnews/foxnews.html
This country has been very purposedly made fat (and I mean that in every connotation of the word), and stupid, and docile as a measure of controlling us for anothers' gain.
The irony of what is happening in this country is that the Right Wing is using precisely what they learned to supress back in the 70s against the people who were doing it then; the Liberal Left! And because those of us in the Liberal Left believe fervently in Freedom of Speech and the Right to Assembly (both First Amendment rights), we allow the Conservatives to assemble and spew their poison and invective - no matter how illogical or factually inaccurate (DEATH PANELS? Come ON..Obama not a citizen? Give me a BREAK). Yep, we're caught between a rock and a hard spot, as my dad would say.
The biggest single problem with the US Populace - and the problem is getting incrementally worse (just look at current television programming or the film industry's blockbusters) - is that we've been carefully taught NOT to think beyond satisfying our next immediate desire. Any thinking that requires more than one element - long division or multiplication are two ready examples - any thinking that requires real logic is apparently beyond the capacity of 90% of the individual American brain.
Sadly, We the Sheeple is a far more current and representative start to our Constitution's Preamble than the historic We the People. Time to wake and look up, folks.
I think it's appropriate to quote Rumi, a Sufi poet of the 13th Century. In case you don't already know, Sufism is the mystic heart of Islam.
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; Don't go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want; Don't go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep.”