Often cited as an important reason for US success as a global power, our diversity has finally come home to roost, and it’s taking a destructive, cruel toll. A unique magic glue that we somehow thought would keep myriad groups in America working at unison with a common goal forever, has unhardened, lost both its adhesive properties and cohesive strength, leaving us with a divided America. No, not as a simplistic two-part nation, but as a fragmented Humpty Dumpty beyond the conservative-liberal political fray.
Almost two centuries ago, French political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville in his book “Democracy in America” (1835) not only gave us a sociological perspective on America’s equality and individualism but what might be construed as a study on economic success. His travels in 1831 along geographically-expanding America, in the midst of an agrarian evolution, as well as an industrial revolution, gave him an insight that we might consider precluding today’s globalization. Tocqueville saw a surging nation without any apparent geographical borders (that could be readily enforced by other nations); a very rapidly increasing immigrant population fleeing the economic woes in Europe; and the lack of commercial barriers (duties) imposed by small governmental units.
And within a century of Tocqueville’s travels, the United States did become a miracle, colossus-nation that combined an enormous contiguous land mass; a productive large population; and a government which provided 80-plus percent of the population with what could be described as reasonable socio-economic mobility and, yes, freedom.
By virtue of these gigantic, multi-faceted economies of scale, the United States was able to create a sizeable economic middle class, and thus become the microcosmic model for later multi-nation common markets and our present “big bang” globalization—what is becoming the ultimate global economy of scale, although we may still be a generation or two away from reaching its apex.
It was this economic advantage over most other countries in the world that created a much higher standard of living, the glue that kept the diversity that was America united. The United States of America became an economic and geopolitical success, a phenomenon of modern times that some social scientists described, and most politicians exploited, with an illusionary and adulatory jargon that bred self-pride and patriotism: American exceptionalism, the American dream; now fading mythical terms.
As globalization is starting to show a leveling impact throughout much of the world, the more advanced economies are left with the irrefutable reality that their middle class will have to subsidize, at least in part, the increase in the standard of living of the surging, less-advanced economies. That although globalization has a synergistic effect, such effect is small relative to the transfer of productive wealth in the middle classes; and that transfer has affected the United States, quantitatively and qualitatively, far more negatively than any other advanced economy. And “we ain’t seen nothing yet,” as 80+ percent of our population has been, or will be, thrown by our Tweedledee-Tweedledum career politicians, and America’s imperial power-elite, under the bus.
The worst socio-economic woes are still ahead, as the magic glue slowly disappears and we are left naked in our diversity . . . each group pulling in a self-serving direction, keeping us fragmented without common, mutually-beneficial goals; and, what’s worse, with a government concerned with one-fifth of the population, letting the other four-fifths join their pariah-peers in the world.
Now that there is little magic glue left to bind us, to keep us strong, we are left with a political-economic life preserver: our vote. Except that the life preserver appears as the ultimate joke, offering two undesirable options from which to choose: a deceiving, chameleonic neoliberal woman and an insane, ignorant bully-man. Yet, these two characters, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have been given monopolistic imprimatur by a corporate press that appears more interested in entertaining buffoonery than addressing the political crises that beset the United States in aspects that will determine its very existence: crisis in a flawed foreign policy; crisis in the economic well-being of its people; crisis in a racial divide that is continuously unaddressed; and crisis in the very future of this nation as it tries to compete, non-militarily, in a very competitive world.
Both ruling parties, Democrats and Republicans, appear unwilling, or incapable, to draft a plan for 21st Century America, as shown by the leaders they have chosen to represent the unheard voices of 80 percent of us. And the powerful corporate media refuses to become the only logical catalyst for change . . . megaphoning other voices, such as those of Greens and Libertarians, to compete on equal terms as democracy intends, such as incorporating them in the debates. In this 48th presidential election, as anger and discontent have become pandemic, we shouldn’t have to go to the polls forced to vote for the lesser-evil.
Copyright © 2016 Tanosborn
Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.