Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, July 4, 2008

My country, 'tis of thee

For such a young country, we certainly have a lot of history to ponder on this Fourth of July. I am a huge fan of early American history and, while there is a lot to be proud of in our founding fathers, there are a lot of warts to be overlooked as well. No generation is perfect and everyone has their faults, but there are a few big things that concern me as to where our country is headed.

Our political process is so imbued with sensationalism, scandal and sound bites that no actual information is imparted by the general media. What happened to the Lincoln-Douglas style debates? Do you think the modern American would be able to stomach 3 hour long debates? Or really any real discussion of the issues?

I used to believe that the rest of the world looked to America, not as just a superpower both in economic and military might, but also as a friend in need. A country that held high standards for itself and hoped to help others achieve the same as well. The kind of friend you look up to as a model of behavior, leadership and strength and someone to lean on for comfort or even protection.

I haven't felt this pride in my country in almost a decade and it saddens me to see us slipping down even faster into the abyss of self-absorption and self-righteousness. I am, quite frankly, embarrassed by the current administration and how the rest of the world must view Americans. I only hope that others looking in don't think that all of us are the spoiled brats our popular media so loves to follow.

More frightening than the lack of acknowledgement that we've stepped down as a global leader by the leaders of this country is the complete apathy of its citizens. It angers me that, as a country, we sit idly by, letting the privileged few decide the fate of this nation. Yes, I realize it's called democracy, but is it really democratic if hardly anyone bothers to vote? Or if those in power take advantage and erode some of the basic principles of our nation such as civil rights and right to privacy?

When you think back to the blood, sweat and death that generations before us have endured to create a sovereign nation based on equality, freedom from religious persecution, and the right to achieve what is within our own abilities, it is a shame that our generation sits on our hands and, honestly, doesn't give a crap anymore as to whether or not these foundations are preserved.

What about all those Americans that fought against slavery and for civil rights and for suffrage for all Americans not just the landed, educated or wealthy? Why don't we take advantage of this gift and vote? It's fairly ridiculous when you think about it. If we were to go back and tell those who so desperately fought for the right to vote that future generations wouldn't even bother voting for president, let alone local elections, do you think they would be incredulous?

So, please, if you have any respect left for this country, pay attention to how we represent ourselves to the rest of the world. Fight to obtain information about how this country is run. Take advantage of the rights we have to make your say known in how you want this country governed. Then, and only then, can we instill a sense of ownership of our government, a sense of civic duty and participation and a pride in our country not just by its citizens, but by the rest of the world.


Robj98168 said...

It's hard to take advantage of your rights when President George is doing all he can to erode civil rights, along with his henchman dick cheney.
To the republicans and morons who voted for him all I can say is WTF Where you thinking?

work4pay said...

well, U.S is not that young. But what really matters is that people get to serve with all their might in honesty.

TheNormalMiddle said...

eh....crunchy....I get angry too when I start thinking about it. But how do you force uneducated, apathetic, lazy people to better themselves and get out and vote on the issues? I don't have the answer for that.

Personally I think we've become such a pampered society, that as long as our personal needs are met, we're content to watch the world pass us by.

And Rob? Seriously? I voted for Bush. Twice. Do I regret it now? Yes, in many, many ways. (for the record I voted for Clinton twice also, so I'm not your typical "republican" either)

Poliics it isn't a magic crystal ball we can look into. We vote OUR values, OUR issues, and we do the best we can. Is it MY fault that someone I voted for didn't do what he promised to do? Is it my fault when NO candidate "fits my mold?"

You can be as pissed as you want to be with the "republicans who didn't know WTF they were thinking" but you know what? You live in a f'ing country that gives people a choice.

Be as pissed off as you want to be, but that type of vitrol doesn't make anything any better. A vote is a vote is a vote. Thank God we have a choice.

America has its fair share of problems, but really and truly I am glad I live here. I could be somewhere else in a Burqua denied my right to vote. I could live in a country where I have to slough off each morning to find clean water. Instead, today I'm taking my three kids to the pool for the annual cookout and games, and then we'll all pile up at the local park to drink beer and ooh-and-ahh at the fireworks display.

Vote for Obama. I'm sure he'll fix ALL the problems in America in one fell swoop and we can all fawn over and thank him for it.

Joan said...

Very well said.

Greenpa said...

Happy Fourth, Crunch, and to your family.

We're in agreement about this stuff. It's kind of too big and complex for good handling in the blog format, though; or at least for my taste. It's too important.

So, I'm not going to try. Pretty much every sentence you wrote there punched a button for me; we could talk for months. So, I'll cut to the bottom line.

I don't think "it" is hopeless; "it" being the vision and goals of the founders.

Here's the deal- substantive changes are required in a lot of the world. That's what makes a lot of folks feel hopeless: they can see the need for change, and also see how bad we all are at changing.

But as an evolutionary biologist, I can assure you- big, huge, substantive change is how nature works. What we have to deal with is; it always takes a long long time- and I'm afraid it's always a messy process.

Just hang on to the knowledge that change IS possible; in fact it's inevitable. Then just keep pushing the icebergs in the direction you want them to go. And keep remembering that fireworks are pretty.

As Gary Larson put it; "Don't forget to stop and eat the roses."


Wendy said...

The populace doesn't vote for the President. The President and Vice President are decided by the Electoral College, who are appointed by his/her state party committee. The members of the electoral college can chose to vote the way the people voted, or not. See the Twelfth Amendment.

We spend a lot of time worrying about the President, but really, he is just one (small) piece of the puzzle that makes up our Federal Government. Congress has a great deal more power than he.

And if we want to point our fingers and cry Foul! We really need to be pointing them at Congress. Not George Bush. The President can deploy troops wherever he wishes, but only Congress can declare war. And while the President has the power of veto (which he has exercised), he doesn't pass or draft laws and he doesn't borrow money on behalf of the US (again, that's Congress).

If you really want to make a difference, be sure that the Senators and Representatives from your state are people who represent YOUR interests.

But if you REALLY, REALLY want to make a difference, fight to do away with the two party system, which is what's killing this country. A divided government in what is supposed to be a UNITED country is what's making us look silly.

Unknown said...

FISA - need I say more? Happy 4th!

Anonymous said...

robi? only if you have any interest in communicating.

Anonymous said...

Wendy -- I'm not sure why you're bringing up Congress's ability to declare war. The President can deploy troops without that happening -- we haven't had a declared war since WWII.

But otherwise, I agree with you.

katecontinued said...

FISA - we have this weekend to demonstrate to ourselves we can read and respond the crisis at hand. Call your senator this weekend. If you don't know about this . . . *sign*. . . we have bigger problems than anyone could imagine.

Anonymous said...

I voted for George Bush. Am I happy about it? Nope. I think the bigger problem is the people who don't vote at all.
I also vote in my local elections, for town council (in my town, that's what we have) and board of education. You have no right to complain if you don't take the small elections seriously. Those are the elections that are actually OUR choice as voters. Those are the people that I know by first name and that I can call at home or go see at a meeting if I need to ask them a question, talk to them, or make a public comment.
Of course people should be involved in the presidential election, but don't forget about your small, local elections, as those will affect your day-to-day lives as well.

Sonnjea said...

I agree with you, Crunchy -- sadly, though, the people who read your blog are already the type of people who DO care and DO vote, so I think you're preaching to the choir.

Theresa said...

Nicely stated Crunchy. It's time all of us threw off the "consumer" label that has been foisted on us by corporate culture and reclaim our rightful designation as "citizen."

I am saddened at the apathy of the Canadian voter too. We've had it too good for too long and have become soft and wimpy and all to willing to be led by power-hungry, psychopathic politicians. It's time for the people to reclaim the power we have, by expressing our opinions, calling and writing elected officials, writing letters to newspapers, attending and organizing civic meetings and rallies, supporting independent media, talking to our neighbors, just speaking up however we can! It's time for another revolution, and it starts within each and every one of us.

Joyce said...

What Abbie said. Your every day life is much more affected by the people you elect on the local level and the decisions they make. And, virtually every body serving at the federal level got there by starting to climb the political ladder at the local level. Pick good people there and you set yourself up for better choices with higher offices.

And if you don't vote, you lose your right to complain.

Chile said...

Just call me the party pooper. Fireworks pollution including perchlorate. Granted, not as bad as the pollution from rockets, but still a rather toxic way to celebrate the holiday.

Green Bean said...

Absolutely, we need to awaken our citizen-ness. We are not what our founding fathers expected us to be. We must turn off our TVs, get out of Target, and pay attention. Great post.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

So sad. So true.
I have to look on our potential, and hope. Hope.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Crunchy, for a very thoughtful and thought-provoking (maybe action-provoking?) post.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Wendy, when you say get rid of the two party system are you proposing that we have only ONE political party? As in the Soviet Union, Communist China, Cuba, Fascist Spain, Italy et al? Are you thinking this through? We don't have MUCH choice now, you would eliminate ALL choice? I find this a most peculiar proposition.

Oh, to those who voted for the current emperor more than once, as Himself once said, "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." —Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

Gretchen said...

Hi. First off, I voted for Bush and WTF I was thinking was that he holds some ideas very seriously which I agree with. Not all his ideas, but some. For me the issue was abortion. You will never find a candidate that agrees with you 100% on all your views, so you have to pick the one topic most important to YOU and go with that candidate. Or the other option is not to vote for anyone. The NOT VOTE is a vote. Oh, by the way Rob, I'm not a moron, thank you. Simply because I disagree with you doesn't make me a moron and more than you disagreeing with me makes you a moron.

Second off, I agree that voting is apathetic, but the right to vote or not vote is part of our right to freedom. I personally believe that Americans are encouraged to push the envelope when deciding about their own personal freedom. The desire to be a citizen who serves the betterment of our community and country is fast fading. It may be coming back in some areas, but I seriously doubt that Americans will, anytime soon, set aside their personal comforts to help the world at large. Here in lies the oil crisis, energy crisis, etc. etc.

Oh, and finally, I think the rest of the world does view America as a country that is a leader. Who is the #1 place a country turns to in order to get assistance in fighting their wars? Or funding their defecits? Do we or don't we help earthquake victims in China and typhoon vicims in Thailand? And aren't we even putting ourselves in financial straits with the price of oil because our own government won't allow drilling around the coasts of our own country - all to protect our own wildlife? If that's not something to admire - protecting your own wildlife at the expense of your own citizens economic welfare - then I don't know what could be.

I live in America, but I have to take it warts and all. I don't love every part of it; it's not perfect. But neither am I.

Theresa said...

Texan Mama, I'm sorry but a lot of Canadians don't see America as a world leader in a lot of ways. We don't need help with our deficit, our country runs with a surplus. And we don't start any wars, period, so we don't need the US to help us fight any. I think we're helping you in this one, actually, and taking a casualty rate that is very high in relation to our population.

Anonymous said...

First of all, people need to take responsibility for their vote. By that I mean, 1) Do your research 2) Vote 3) Learn From Your Vote.

Of course no one knew exactly what would happen if Bush got elected again. But if you did your research then you had a pretty good idea and if you didn't do your research then hopefully you will have learned something and will apply it to your voting techniques in the future.

Not taking responsibility in this case is understandable - Bush can't/won't take responsibility so why should anyone else?

NormalMiddle - what did Bush promise to do that he didn't do?

When the White House lies to Congress, the Senate, the people - who then is responsible?

When the White House carefully orchestrates devastating personal attacks on those who dare disagree - who then is responsible?

When the White House creates a climate of fear based on personal goals not reality - who then is responsible?

When the White House threatens people's jobs if they speak the truth - who then is responsible?

Anonymous said...

A couple of points I want to take on here.

Get rid of the two-party system? Yes. Definitely. Not in favor of one party, but in favor of many. Most other democracies (at least, those I am familiar with) have many political parties. In such a system, perhaps we might manage to have a party that is both anti-war and anti-abortion. Wowsers.

And, yes, I think Congress gets off easy insofar as being held accountable. From what I've heard the main reason the renewable energy tax credit are in danger is because the Democrats and Republicans in Congress can't agree on what other crap to stuff into the bill. That's simply ridiculous.

And last of all, to Texan Mama: abortion is an important issue to me, too. But I think we as voters need to look at our pet issues as part of the larger picture. Meaning George W. may say he's anti-abortion, but has he done anything to reduce the number of abortions performed in this country? Not a bit. I'd rather vote for a war-monger who is going to pay attention and be accountable for the ensuing carnage THAN for a peace-lover who will bury his head in the sand and let the rest of Congress decide on our path.

A bit convoluted there, but I think you get the point. It doesn't matter how much you agree with a politician if he won't act on his beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Oh, one last thing. Again, to Texan Mama, Canada does A LOT better than we do when it comes to world aid. CUBA does better than we do when it comes to worldwide medical aid. And, honestly, I would rather not take credit for most of the military aid we give. In Israel and Palestine, for example, I think we're just making things worse.

Anonymous said...

Woot. And holla. And all the rest, girl.

Anonymous said...

So...Canada, a world power? Thanks for the deep belly laugh!

Canada is not in debt because y'all know your big neighbor to the south won't let anything bad happen to you, so no need to blow the budget on defense and technology. But hey, I'm all for giving credit where credit is due, so thanks for the zamboni, round bacon, and the venerable Pamela Anderson.

As for world aid - I'm glad my government doesn't give away more money than it already does. Having said that, I understand we're consistently amongst the top five for private citizen contributions, which I think is (a) more in line with our free market system, and (b) speaks greater volumes about our national character than does our ability to elect a president we can be proud of.

Wendy said...

With all due respect to Crunchy (this is her blog, and this is getting off topic), Equa Yona, the answer is no, I don't favor a one party system. I favor a no party system, and I question why there has to be parties at all, why we have to have voting along "party lines", and why our Federal Government has to be so divided on issues that really do affect our lives - like the President insisting that we need to drill in ANWR, and because the "Democrat" Congress says no, the "Democrats" are to blame for the energy crisis.

Ha! The "energy crisis" is nothing new and has been brewing since ... well, since before many of those reading here were even born.

That's all. I just don't think that having two sides is all there should be, and it would be better if it were a circle - no sides, no parties - everyone has a right to vote *period*.

If you want to continue this, we should do so privately as to not monopolize Crunchy's space :).

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Ah, multi-party I can get behind! Representational voting would be EXCELLENT. We really only have one party, with two right wings and both wings in thral to big money.

KT-pretty snarky aren't you? Canada at least has the sense to make sure all her citizens have health care. And if it weren't in our best interests, we'd sell Canada down the river in a heartbeat, especially if there was a buck to be made.

Finally, love ya Crunchy, yer the best!

Sharlene said...

I am proud of the country I live in. I am just not very proud of those who are running it. Our political system has ALOT of flaws and there are an awful lot of people who just don't seem to give a damn about much other then themselves. That being said there are still alot of us who do care, take their vote and their position in humanity seriously, and hope to teach our children to do the same.

Crunchy Chicken said...

You guys can monopolize the blog comments section all you like, just as long as people keep it polite. That's why I bring these things up - so you can discuss stuff. Even if it does run slightly off-topic.

So, go at it!

Theresa said...

kt - glad you got a laugh at our expense, I've had lots at yours, so I guess it's only fair. But maybe put down that telephone eh? And hope you or your family don't need any insulin any time soon.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I love Canada. Of course, living so close to the border makes me feel like an honorary citizen. Well, without the benefits.

Anyway, I think Canada is sorely underappreciated by many Americans. Canada ends up being pushed around and/or goaded by the U.S. and mostly just has to grin and bear it. I can't imagine what kind of mixed emotions Canadians have about their "big" brother to the south.

I have a great pride for what my country stands for, but also a deep appreciation for others and where they are coming from. The only way to build successful relationships is to understand the other's perspective.

I'd like to hear the perspective from other non-Americans, or those who live abroad about how America is thought of...

Anonymous said...

I have lived abroad - 3 different countries during the Clinton era, long enough in the UK to acquire dual citizenship. America wasn't popular then in much the same way as it's not popular now. No one really cared much about the world's opinion until we went into Iraq - honestly, you could mark it to the day.

I moved back here because it really is the land of opportunity. Plus, I was getting tired of the in-your-face racism (call it anti-Americanism if you want, but that's what it is). Instead of using our social or economic status as an excuse to not succeed, as a people we just roll up our sleeves and do it anyway. Call it a contemporary manifestation of our historical rebelliousness :) As such, we attract the brains and the innovators that played major roles in establishing us as a superpower (Oppenheimer, anyone?). Would Scottish-born Alexander Graham Bell have invented the telephone (FYI he knocked it up in his Massachussetts lab, but I'll throw Ms. T a bone - he did first use it in Canada) within the oppressive class systems that stunted talent in the Olde Worlde at that time? Now, what if the internet had been invented in Europe instead of MIT...

I love the irony in Canadians laughing at us when we make things like decent socialized medicine feasible for them - amazing what public funds can accomplish when defense spending is at "token" levels (a quarter of American spending, per capita) because someone else, ahem, has their back. So I beg to differ with who the underappreciated party is in North America. However, I do feel bad for them, though, when they travel in other countries covered in maple leaf flag badges and are asked "are you American".

Theresa said...

I'm a vegetarian, kt, you can keep your bone. And your bones of contention.

Samantha said...

Psh. Why on earth would I vote between bad and worse? McCain sucks; Obama sucks. I'll be damned if I'm going to vote for either of them. When someone WORTHY of the presidency actually comes along, then I'll vote. Otherwise, what's the point? Neither of them is going to steer this country in the direction I believe it needs to take. One's a waffler, and one's a manipulator.

I know the issues, I know the candidates, and I can safely say that neither one of them deserves the job, so I'm not going to help either one of them get it.

From the lion's mouth said...

Boy am I glad we have almost-compulsary voting in Australia (it's compulsary to turn up to a polling place and have your name ticked off the roll, it's not actually compulsary to fill out the ballot paper, although about 97% of people do once they've turned up). It's a lot harder to disenfranchise whole groups of people when the government KNOWS they're going to turn up and vote.

knutty knitter said...

As a country I think the USA sucks and have thought so ever since the anzus thing when we went (by popular vote) anti nuclear and were bullied for years about it. I don't like bullies much. I also don't like the fact that WE have to suffer your politics and yet we have absolutely no say in your voting system. The whole UN thing was set up to prevent just that sort of situation but the USA is running roughshod over anyone who might have a different opinion. Its almost as if the rest of the world either doesn't exist, or if it does, is so inferior that it counts for nothing except maybe the odd handout. With strings attached! A lot of us out here are feeling ripped off, sore and manipulated.

Ummm sorry about the rant and it doesn't apply to all of you either :) But you asked!

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

No need to apologize to many of us. I don't like bullies either and that is exactly what the US is and always has been-remember those pesky Indians, Mexicans etc? Of course some will see this as "in your face racism". I never knew we were a seperate race but oh well.

Tina Cardone said...

I've been meaning to blog about this, maybe today, but I've recently been inspired by ants. They all take random paths wandering around their neighborhoods. One day, one of them finds a good path. Since they have been leaving a pheromone trail, another ant may happen along and wonder what happens if they follow along. The pheromones are doubled. Eventually if enough ants decide this "good" path is worth traveling, the entire colony will be taking the same route. All it takes is someone like you, wandering around and sharing your path. Others will follow, we will reach critical mass and the entire civilization will be following the same path together.

Anonymous said...

There are lots and lots of self-righteous people. Haha

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of the apathy arises from the fact that we essentially have a two-party system, which leaves few progressive people, who hope for a radical change in the way we view and treat our fellow human beings, with little hope for any real progress. Since each party is heavily ensnared in big business and the power games of political elites. Now, participating in one's local elections definitely makes sense.

Ritobear said...

You said it - this is a great post.