Column: The Untied States of America

Pier Angelo

My partner and I just moved into a new house in Fort Lauderdale.

People around us have been pleasant and welcoming. When we are working on the front lawn many of them stop and chat and introduce themselves.

In the evening I have been riding my bicycle to explore the new surroundings.

Some houses are more expensive and elaborate than others, the lawns are nicely manicured, many sit on a beautiful golf course; there are children playing, joggers, men and women walking their dogs, some driveways have cars displaying rainbow bumper stickers, the area is quiet and peaceful.

It is the “American Dream.”

Or so I thought.

In the last month or so almost every other house has put up a Romney/Ryan sign. They keep sprouting like mushrooms after a rainy day. The slogan on the signs says “Believe in America.” Funny, the majority of vehicles on the driveways are foreign made. It is a smorgasbord of cars out of Munich and Tokyo. Obviously “Believe in America” does not apply in this case. I call it hypocrisy but it is a free country after all.

Or so I thought.

Last week we got our own Obama signs. We placed them on the front lawn, proudly looked around us and felt we were part of the diversity America claims to be all about. Our sacred democracy allows us to show our support for one candidate or the other.

Or so I thought.

Forty-eight hours later we came home from dinner to find both of our Obama signs vandalized. One was run over and the other turned upside down. Upset as I was I asked myself: “How can we ever grow up?”

The next day it happened again. I just don't get it. What has happened to us? Where did the U.S. go?  It is the end of civility. I try to look for simple answers; it is one way to make sense out of a world turned upside down. A critical thinker will always be alright I say to myself. It is people who don’t think who sink into bigotry.

When did this nation turn into a sea of white trash?  And of course these same individuals are the first to poke fun and criticize Banana Republics, people like Chavez and Castro, or Muslim rulers for “preventing” their country from having a “democracy”- just like ours. There is nothing left in our democracy to be proud of.

The American people are killing and stifling their hard earned freedom, they seem to enjoy sinking into a bowl of stupid. Democracy can survive only if we practice it in our daily lives. Instead, hysteria is taking over and we resort to innuendos, sneers, manipulation, misrepresentation, greed, and unsubstantiated attacks of the opposite side just because it is the opposite side. I fear that the rules our nation so successfully followed for more than 200 years were designed for another time, a different breed of people.

Are Democracy and freedom even compatible anymore?

We are deaf dumb and blind to the damage we are doing to ourselves. Other countries have taken notice; last February The Montreal Gazette said it perfectly in one of its editorials:

“Hate, so much a part of the politics of the right in 2012, was largely absent from the 1960 campaign. All the candidates in 1960, Republican and Democrat, possessed to some degree a sympathy for the poor and disenfranchised that is utterly missing in the current Republican field. Kennedy’s father was the millionaire Joseph P. Kennedy; Rockefeller was the descendant of what was, at the time, America’s richest family.”

"What ever happened to the idea of striving . . . to be better human beings than we are?"

Sometimes I wish I was one of those New Republicans. I would not have to worry about anyone’s feelings.

Many people wonder why Republican legislators are so unrelenting on President Obama. Frederick Douglass gave us the answer many years ago.

“Though the colored man is no longer subject to barter and sale, he is surrounded by an adverse settlement which fetters all his movements.

In his downward course he meets with no resistance, but his course upward is resented and resisted at every step of his progress.

If he comes in ignorance, rags and wretchedness he conforms to the popular belief of his character, and in that character he is welcome; but if he shall come as a gentleman, a scholar and a statesman, he is hailed as a contradiction to the national faith concerning his race, and his coming is resented as impudence.  In one case he may provoke contempt and derision, but in the other he is an affront to pride and provokes malice.”

Frederick Douglass

September 25, 1883

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