There’s an old expression that says, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil!” Nobody wants to hear that squeak! It’s irritating and very hard to ignore. The “noise “ of that squeaky and abrasive sound just frays your nerves until you can do nothing else but pay attention or just give in and let the wheel have exactly what it wants. The culture of abrasive, loud, disorderly and offensive behavior all over the country right now is a demonstration of this little adage on steroids. People have literally lost their minds! As full-on fist fights erupt on airplanes, in school board meetings, outside of school buildings, in hotel lobbies, at restaurant reception areas, in the streets and in the church houses of America, we are devolving in our ability to live in a “civil” society.
Perhaps it has been more difficult at other times in American history. Perhaps people have been more nasty, uncivil and outright obnoxious before in our history. Perhaps it just “seems” out-of-control, given the aptitude of a media savvy populous, the availability of instant paparazzi on the scene with cellphone cameras aimed and always ready. We cannot escape. We are inundated with the grotesqueness of outrageous human behavior, captured and released on all types of media instantaneously. We have become a society without restraint or decorum. The evidence continues to play 24/7 on an endless loop for the entire world to see.
When we stop for a moment and take stock of ourselves, it becomes clearer and clearer that America has been deluding herself and Americans are not really committed to the basic principles upon which America was founded at all. There are those who want to believe in the promise that America has always been, even though we’ve never seen that promise fulfilled. The political climate, institutions, systems and barriers designed from the inception of this nation were constructed to keep some of us from ever participating in this “grand experiment” as full citizens.
To simply believe in liberty, equality, justice and freedom for all does not make the acquisition of those principles in practice a forgone conclusion. For generations we have spent blood, treasure and patience pursuing the promise, fighting for the dream to come true and still we wait. What we continue to ignore is the contradiction embedded within the promise of America. The Declaration of Independence was signed by men who held human beings in slavery as their property. How do you declare freedom, justice, equality and liberty in your founding documents when you hold people in bondage as human Chattel? How do you proclaim that individual human beings are only worth 3/5ths of a person and say that you are the arbiters of truth and justice?
There is a fatal flaw in these declarations and papers drawn up as our constitution when the institutions established under their construction create rules, policy and practice that protects the power of those men who created America in their own image without ever imagining the day when America would no longer look like them. Each time there have been achievements made or barriers broken, those achievements find themselves being undermined by political power systems that still believe themselves to be superior to others and entitled to the “American Dream” by virtue of the color of their skin, their ethnicity, religious beliefs, or sexual identity. These “political players” have gerrymandered themselves into using the rules they created to STAY in power no matter what! Seventy five percent of Americans may want sensible gun control, but it’s not a democracy because 25% of the people maintain the power to say NO, counting themselves as MORE important than the other 75%. When embracing democracy means that we need to make it easier for ALL people to have a vote, the 25% who want to hold on to their power work twice as hard to ensure the Voting Rights Act is deconstructed while new voter suppression laws are created, voted on and passed all over the country. When one party’s candidates have won the majority of the votes for over several decades, ( the popular vote) the 25% scream and shout to keep an antiquated system called the Electoral College, protecting the few over the many, in place. This continues to make a Mockery out of the word Democracy!
When you change the rules to accommodate your political aspirations, assert false claims of fraud in order to hold on to power because, once again, the majority of the people did not choose your candidate in the popular vote, you make a mockery of America and violate the freedoms and principles she claims. When settled law is no longer settled and historic Supreme Court decisions are undermined and deconstructed to appease the powerful instead of holding “equal justice under the law” as sacred and inviolate, we are in trouble.
Democracy in America becomes more uncertain every day. We need to look at ourselves honestly instead of living on a hope and a prayer. “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin