Home > Uncategorized > Why America is at the Final Crossroads

Why America is at the Final Crossroads

For the first time in my lifetime, we are faced with two candidates who are despised by a majority of American voters. What I going to say next might surprise you: We Deserve This! We don’t want it. We don’t need it. We hate it. But we earned it through our lack of vigilance and critical thinking.

The signs were there, but the American public decided it was too inconvenient to believe it or do something about the problems leading to this current disaster. Many ask, what were the signs?

There were at least two: Citizens United and a news media in decay.

Citizens United v. FEC

This 2010 Supreme Court decision allowed SuperPACs, a legalized bribery highway for public corruption. Whether financial, military or political, power seeks one thing: more power. Citizens United opened the floodgates for moneyed special interests, helping consolidate the power of corruption. Broadly supported bills to help the public welfare have been repeatedly thwarted by the tidal wave of campaign contributions, mostly from industry groups, such as the Trial Lawyers Association, the NRA, Wall Street, the coal and oil industries, and many others. Campaign contributions persistently drowned out the voice of the people.

Regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum, we all sense this disconnection from our government and are desperate for a solution. Unfortunately, some feel that solution is Donald Trump, a bombastic second-generation millionaire, who has never worked in government. Desperation often leads to bad choices. But this year, none of the choices are good.

The Declining News Media

The second sign is the deplorable state of the news media.  There was a time when the news was considered a sacred trust. News reporters, editors and producers thoughtfully selected which issues to report based on relevance and importance. Remember newsmen such as Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite?  Younger citizens can’t because they’ve never been exposed to that kind of integrity. At the time, the news divisions of TV networks, while not perfect, were fairly independent. There were only three networks. Brian Williams and Geraldo Rivera will never measure up Murrow and Cronkite.

Today, these networks are part of huge media conglomerates. Ratings mean advertising revenue, essential for growing corporate profits. Profits override thoughtful coverage every time. So the media spends more time discussing the Kasdashians and Pokemon Go than serious issues. Donald Trump, an outrageous buffoon who appeals to people’s worst instincts, delivers ratings.  To survive as a great nation, we must turn off the reality TV pabulum and demand better.

The American public has a short attention span. Our intellects have been starved by a steady diet of simplistic sound bites. However, in an advanced and powerful democracy such as ours, a more diligent citizenship is required.

The next four years will be a disaster. If Hillary Clinton wins, she will be dogged by scandal after scandal, whether real, imagined or something in between. And a Republican Congress will not let anyone forget it. If Donald Trump wins, the White House will be a reality TV circus. With such disgust for the two major party candidates, why haven’t the news outlets looked at third-party candidates? Third-party candidates don’t deliver ratings!

At a time when we face unprecedented corruption in Washington, unprecedented chaos in the Middle East and racial tensions at home, where is the adult supervision?

We are the adults. But we’ve failed our duty of care. Time to turn off the reality TV, delete the Pokemon Go, start studying the issues and the platforms of the third-party candidates.

(I’ll get back to you about Citizens United next time around.)

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