This being my third-to-last column for The Daily Campus, I’ve decided to compile a long list of American shortcomings. This list is long, but unfinished, informative, but lacking detail in the third degree. Beyond functioning as a review of this great nation, this column could also be considered a review of how I see the world, for better or worse.
Let’s start with the environment. To be honest, for some reason, the issue of global warming is less important to me than the other, disparate problems of the world. That said, I recognize that humanity is on its way to perishing before our home does. The current Republican-led government will be scorned by future generations who recognize their lack of foresight and their capitulation to oil and other companies. Without a concentrated effort by the majority of Earth’s peoples, the conclusion of climate change is foregone.
Barry O, Where’d You Go?
I’m concerned, as I’m sure others are, about where the hell our last president is. He’s hardly said anything in public since Trump was elected, and yet, Republicans are charging him with the title of “opposition leader,” as if the U.S. were to devolve into violent struggle between warring ideological factions. If only Obama had that sort of spark, maybe Merrick Garland would be a Supreme Court justice. While lefties have to be happy about the persistence of stalwarts Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, stand up, Barry. We don’t deserve you, but your work isn’t done.
Speaking of Garland, Neil Gorsuch is our country’s newest Supreme Court justice. Republicans pulled off the heist of the millennium with the political maneuvering they undertook to elevate another conservative judge to this revered position. Liberals lost this dispute hard, letting Republicans block Garland and watching weakly as Mitch McConnell utilized the nuclear option. Democrats were without the nerve necessary to get Garland on the bench. Perhaps we’ll learn our lesson – that we need to fight dirty too – now that Citizens United and the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) will remain law for 30 years or more.
An American Tradition: Racism
The VRA is the tip of the iceberg. As is custom, black Americans are under attack. The most obvious persecutor is the police. Those who are supposed to protect and serve have turned into soldiers who haphazardly decide who lives and who dies. And guess what? In this horror movie, stereotypes are adhered to. Meanwhile, the conservative right likes to pretend there is no problem with racism in America, casting themselves as the victims of a nonexistent reverse racism. In white America, Black Lives Matter are the dividers. White America would much rather be left alone to pretend as if everything is fine. We can only expect the contentious nature of this disagreement to increase in intensity. As is the case with global warming, until the conservative half of the country sees racism and inequality as a pressing injustice, it will continue. So will the resistance to it.
The dichotomous media will not help this cause. There are rightward sources and leftward sources, and anything from the middle is the “mainstream media” or “fake news.” Respected publications become “left-wing blogs,” in the words of Sean Spicer, and being well informed has become reason for scorn. The profession I wish to enter – journalism – has never been more maligned. At a time where publications like The Washington Post and The New York Times are attempting to hold the powerful to account, they are being excoriated by their constituency. My only solution is to keep telling the truth, because the truth is inexorable.
There are a host of other defining matters of culture and politics that bear discussion. Marijuana remains illegal for recreational use in a number of states in the U.S., despite its economic and health benefits. There is no explanation other than pure stupidity for this fact.
The majority of Americans want universal health care, but attaining such a system is nowhere in sight. Our current system is better than the monstrosity Paul Ryan and Trump attempted to institute, but it still callous compared to a federally-funded health care program.
Immigration epitomizes the divide between left and right at this moment. The left wants open borders for refugees and open but regulated borders for immigrants. The right wants a nonsensical wall worth tens of billions of dollars. Cue the conservative critique of bleeding hearts. End dialogue. Neglect the fact that undocumented women are afraid to report domestic violence for fear of ICE.
Terrorism maintains its hold on the American psyche. The latest catastrophe befell the Swedish, a peaceful people. Hunting ISIS seems like swinging a bat blindfolded. What happens next?
Our Dear Leader
The President of the country has become an umbrella, encompassing the negative aspects of these issues. Liberals have done a good job of painting Trump as the devil. (He doesn’t make it difficult.) But he deserves some of the credit, as he exploited the classic theme of fear on the campaign trail. It turns out he was right, but for all the wrong reasons. Now, it is as bad as he said it was, except this time, he’s in charge.
The evils I pointed to, and the ones that went unmentioned, whether wrong or right, fall at Donald’s feet. Still, we push. In the morning we wake and do it again. What troubles us personally is dwarfed by the challenges of society and state which plague us from above.
First, we must acknowledge the problems. Then, we solve them.
Sten Spinella is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.