The past few days in the U.S. seem to bring an already deeply frightening time to new, even more abysmal depths. As bad as the state of affairs in this country has been over the past years–many years, to be sure, and we could look back to our founding through devastating destruction of others for the start–since ’16 it’s just been a steady plummeting of ‘other’ in favor of a national narcissism.
Our ruling institutions–Executive, Legislative, and Judicial–have each taken their own dives over the decades. The trust in each of these, at different times, has seen a deterioration in the American mind each in their own way. The Vietnam war era saw an Executive branch so out of tune with the populace that our world exploded here, and elsewhere. Nixon brought sheer criminality to the presidency. Reagan brought a selfish, financially-elitist perspective to b.s. economic policy, making the “boot straps” metaphor that many aspire to in the U.S. simply impossible.
Newt Gingrich, the “moral majority,” created a Congressional/Legislative framework in which the populace is trained to see the other as an enemy, ultimately voting against their own best interests so that “they” don’t win. And to look at McConnell and the current Senate/House functionality is to see how the trajectory laid out by Gingrich has continued. McConnell, perhaps, has singlehandedly created the deterioration of trust in the 3rd branch of our checks-and-balances system, the Judicial Branch.
With his refusal to do his job in considering Barak Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, then pushing through Cavanaugh and Barrett, he has reshaped the court into a third, rotten leg of the stool keeping the U.S. afloat.
The rulings of the SC–the states do not have the right to determine their own gun laws; the states must have the right to determine their own laws controlling womens’ bodies; the weakening of Miranda rights; and the enforced public funding of religious institutions which do not even contribute to the public coffers–are so extreme, so contradictory to all information related to the American public’s opinions, that the court’s level of respect is lower than that for our ’16-20 White House occupant.
We are at the lowest point I can ever remember, with none of our governmental institutions respected. States are creating a wild west, with some now making it legal to purchase military weapons without license, training, or background check. I believe it is entirely likely that when we walk into a store, there will be someone in that store–in some cases, many people–openly carrying weapons. We now live in a society where some are encouraged to ‘report’ someone who attempts to control their own fate and future by exploring options regarding pregnancy. We have a Supreme Court justice who is actually advocating for a return to a time when contraception, gay sex (and, of course, gay marriage), are outlawed. [Remarkable that he doesn’t also want to return miscegenation laws, which would have outlawed his own marriage.]
I do not know how we, as a society, recover from this. I do expect that the pendulum’s swing that seems to find us in the 19th century right now will return us to something more sane in time ahead. But I do not expect that swing will happen during my own lifetime; perhaps not even during our childrens’; but our grandchildrens’, perhaps, is more likely.
I am 61 now. I have spent a great deal of time and energy trying to improve the miniscule corner of the world I occupy–that of my family, music, and education–and I’ve done ok at that. I don’t know to alleviate the current, larger-world despondency I feel.