I send a ton of letters to my brothers which are all curiously devoid of anything dealing even remotely with my personal life. We write about books and politics and sports but little about our lives. It’s not that our personal lives are so boring but in the grand scheme they don’t really count for much. Here is just one example of a letter I sent today in response to another sent by my younger brother. I would imagine that we have exchanged hundreds, perhaps thousands of such letters over the course of or adult lives. We read mostly the same books and have come to mostly the same conclusions regarding the fate of the United States of America. The three of us are proud veterans (along with our honorary brother Dave who is also in the email loop). I think we all came to similar conclusions after reading John Ralston Saul’s prophetic masterpiece, Voltair’e Bastards back in about 1992. Here is a letter that I wrote this morning that is typical of the kind of things we discuss. I don't expect this will be of much interest to many people but, like most of what I write here, it's more for me than anyone else.
I wish that I had a centimo for every time I heard some conservative twat say that Europe is collapsing. Of course this is being said by folks who have never actually been here. Germany collapsing? France collapsing? I think that the Germans and the French would beg to differ. I also love how conservatives hold up a single item from the news, a single anecdotal article from the European press that they think completely validates their point. If people here wanted anecdotal evidence of the complete and utter failure of America all they’d have to do is scan the metro section of any major U.S. daily newspaper to see plenty of stories of murder and mayhem.
Europe has won. Socialism has thoroughly kicked the shit out of the Reagan model in the last 30 years. Poverty has been all but eradicated, like polio, in Germany and France. Walk around Valencia and I defy you to show me a ghetto or even a poor neighborhood. There are a few dodgy streets but not an entire shitty neighborhood. Violent crime? Not here. I walk past a group of young black men and I’m not thinking about what I will do if they threaten me. How many U.S. cities can you say that about? Valencia looks as good as Seattle and Seattle is one of the wealthiest U.S. cities. Many places look this good in Europe. You would have to be completely blind and stupid not to see it if you take a look.
Of course, as I said in a recent essay the conservatives’ game plan is to foster ignorance in every issue they promote. Can you believe they are still sticking with their global warming denial policy? They are like Har-kari pilots willing to fly their planes right into our society if it means victory for them. They refuse to budge on a single issue and they refuse to abandon even the fucking most insane members of their movement. If some who professes to be a liberal says something stupid liberals are over them. Look at Bill Maher. I don’t know any intelligent person who doesn’t think Bill Maher is a twat yet he claims to be a liberal and sometimes champions liberal ideas. Conservatives will stick with Sarah Palin to the death.
I direct you back to that preposterous essay by George Will Why Liberal Love Trains in which he tried to argue against rail. What he really meant to call the piece was Why Conservatives Hate Europe. Conservatives hate Europe because, for the most part, it is a shining example of the complete failure of their economic model of unregulated free enterprise, the elimination of the social safety net, and an almost complete lack of concern for the public wellbeing. Europe is predominantly urban and therefore predominantly liberal (like urban America). Train travel represents the height of this urban liberal mindset. Will actually laughed off train travel as a 200 year old technology. Did it seem like a 200 year old technology while we were speeding to Sevilla from Madrid at 300kph? What a completely childish and mendacious thing to say from a man who is paid for his opinions (unbelievable but true, unfortunately). Whatever, Will has been on the wrong side or—even worse—on both sides of so many important issues that it drives me crazy that anyone could take him seriously.
While America has been firing school teachers and police officers Spain went ahead with construction on the Madrid-Valencia high-speed rail line. Even during this very serious crisis they didn’t completely abandon their future. What has America done to prepare for our future? Of course conservatives think that if we just cut taxes a bit more we will all be transported to Valhalla or some sort of paradise where Reagan sits on a cloud and rules over us. There will be no police protection, health care, or education in their paradise but what does that matter?
Ask conservatives to point to the kind of society they want to build and they cough and stamp their feet and mumble something about “the way it used to be” or some other senseless idea. I can point to a lot of places America should be emulating. Of course, to even suggest that things are being done better outside of America is tantamount to treason as far as conservatives are concerned. I think it is treasonous to ignore better ideas for things like public transportation, health care, and education.
But the real elephant in the room that conservatives have completely ignored is the unacceptable income inequality in America. I don’t know how much longer they can keep on their path of denial. First they said that there was not income gap and then they changed course slightly when that became completely irrefutable. Lately they have insisted that the income gap means nothing if the pie is getting bigger. This is rapidly becoming worse and I think will either sink the Republican Party or destroy America. It’s already completely obvious to any but the most blind that America’s top 1% have stripped us of anything remotely resembling a democracy. Our plebiscite of 2008 meant absolutely nothing. Obama has followed a course barely distinguishable from that of Bush: we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, no real health care change, no tax hikes for the richest Americans, and we are dismantling our social safety nets as fast as we can.
Yet most Americans don’t know or don’t care about any of this. They are too stupid and too full of Jesus Christ, Cable TV, and/or professional sports to bother getting involved in what is the future of our country. I was completely clear about this after the presidential election of 2004. To me that was the biggest failure of the American people since…I don’t know, since we decided that slavery was the right choice. We were given a clear choice and we made the worst possible mistake. I still vividly remember that night and thinking that it couldn’t be possible (but of course I knew that it was possible).
I enjoyed a few brief moments of political happiness after Obama’s election but I soon realized what a cruel joke our American democracy had become when the President almost immediately started hemming and hawing about closing Guantanamo. “What will we do with the people there?” was the big question. The answer: I don’t give a flying fuck what we do with the prisoners. Buy them all a fucking mansion in Beverly Hills and new cars. Anything would be better for America than continuing to live with the disgrace of that prison. And while we are at it let’s give all of Guantanamo back to Cuba. The 200 or so shitbags we have interned there could never in a million years do more damage to our country than the damage already done to our reputation. My anti-terrorism strategy is to convince the world that the path taken by the West is the correct path. If we only seem like adversaries to the Muslim world we are in for a long fight. Show ourselves as an example and their world will change rapidly as we are seeing now.