What Exactly Is America?

Image courtesy of Marco Verch via Creative Commons.

This is sort of a minor trope in the movies and TV, where a character realizes that someone they trusted/loved/partnered with is actually a villain, and the shocked character gasps out “what ARE you?” as they back away in horror.

I’m sort of wondering that myself about our country.

I do know the past two years have been a little unnerving. We learned that a disturbing number of Americans are perfectly cool with you dying if you are elderly or have an underlying condition. I just want to be able get a beer in a bar and it’s been MONTHS, dammit.

We’ve learned that our public health messaging has to take into account what we are as a society. For example, this was a gaffe, but assuring people that you could ditch the masks as soon as you got vaccinated back in the spring of 2020 was focused on trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated. This is because along with the anti-vaxxers and those with legitimate concerns about missing work due to it, there were also the people who are so apathetic they couldn’t be bothered. That’s pretty wild when you think about it.

We’re also in this bizarre time of misplaced obsessions. Yesterday’s President Biden press conference had way too many questions about Biden being “divisive,” which is also wild given the prior president more or less lived for divisiveness. NBC Newslinger Kristin Welker first asked if he was concerned Black Americans feel abandoned by him, but then she later asked what he would to people who feel offended by his voting rights speech. Biden backpedaled some, of course, because we must always be deeply concerned about the feelings of those who have the worst opinions.

That’s telling in and of itself. We have a situation where one party is open about ruining our democracy, and calling it for what it is gets wails of “divisive!” in return from many in the media. Meanwhile, those of us who are greatly concerned, and yes, frightened, by where our democracy is heading get zero attention or concern. It’s hard not to wonder if a large portion of the DC press corps is pro-authoritarian, given this.

I also sometimes wonder how many white Americans truly want a multi-racial democracy, or even have a sense of racial justice. For example, a recent poll found a decline in support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

While 82 percent of Black respondents said they support the Black Lives Matter movement, 53 percent of white respondents said they opposed the movement, reflecting a pattern of public opinion when it comes to racial justice movements, said Vida Robertson, the director of the Center for Critical Race Studies at the University of Houston-Downtown.

I covered on First Draft how this is very similar to views on civil rights from the 1960s. Too many white people just seem easily hoodwinked into believing moral panics when they are related to race. Attacking a false image of Critical Race Theory seemed to be a winning campaign in the Virginia governor’s race, and those white moderates who bought into it are beginning to learn a lesson about what they voted for, exactly. Nothing new, of course. In the late 80s into the 90s, a lot of people bought into “PC out of control.”

There is also a lot of things that conservatives just are not hiding. Open attacks on voting rights are in vogue in the party. Winger BFFs Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema seem very unconcerned about hiding their donor connections and how they influence their votes, which makes sense given it seems to be pretty clear that it is not necessarily hurting them. Professional Pile of Garbage Ron DeSantis is gleefully killing his own constituents in Florida through his so-called COVID policies, and not seeing it hurt his approval, nor presidential election aspirations.

So, what do we want overall as a nation? A white Christian-dominated country where minority voting rights are destroyed and our history is nothing more than propaganda to that end? A nation that celebrates the “strong” and wants to eliminate the “weak?” A minoritarian, pseudo-authoritarian rule full of people who will openly reject any election result that is not in their favor?

And what percentage of Americans would even notice a complete slide into authoritarian rule, and would unironically celebrate America on July 4th as the freest nation in the world? Would we trade our very system of government, the most basic of freedom, for a promise of lower gas prices?

So much these days makes me figuratively back away in horror at my home country, and wonder “what are you?”

The last word goes to that sad bastard James Murphy.

6 thoughts on “What Exactly Is America?

  1. “I also sometimes wonder how many white Americans truly want a multi-racial democracy, or even have a sense of racial justice.”

    I hate to say this, but I’ve seen no evidence in my 67 years as a black American that the majority of white Americans *ever* truly wanted a multi-racial democracy with all that implies (you know, like sharing a tiny bit of the wealth stolen from generations of others). The fact that we kinda sorta had one for a few decades was the result of extraordinary organizing efforts by oppressed groups and shifting power dynamics between the Republicans and Democrats. That’s all pretty much over, now.

  2. > So much these days makes me figuratively back away in horror at my home country, and wonder “what are you?”

    Thank you for this. I feel precisely the same way. The same sense of horror at what my country has become, and a sinking feeling that it was always thus: I just didn’t notice.

  3. Many of my Dem friends, who HATED Trump & are oh-so-happy that he’s out of office, will say how they’re not “racist” but they will also say how BLM “went too far” (because their favorite liquor store in our neighborhood had its windows smashed & bottles stolen) … one woman I know still complains about how she “had” to walk to school back in the day, but the “black kids” got bussed (“that wasn’t fair!”) … a school teacher I know complains that the black kids are always more difficult … but these are ALL GOOD DEMOCRATS

    The problem is the unsaid notion that “white” is the default person & everything else is less-than. Like all problems, you have to admit it before you can deal with it.

    But if you’re not willing to admit it … like my Dem friends … there’s no dealing with it.

    1. I think that you have epitomized the crisis: Us and them. Your DEM friends that you can’t talk to; in fact, you can talk to them, you have chosen not to. I can say that without knowing them, because I know that you can talk to anyone, regardless of their politics.

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