I’ve heard a lot from Fox News and Facebook regurgitators about this election and how it signals the collapse of traditional America. When I have posed the question what is this traditional America you are talking about?, I get mixed responses. Mostly it seems to be the idea that America was a country of people who all worked and contributed equally to society and carried their own weight and there was no need for Government assistance or entitlements. Maybe I’m too young to remember the days they are reminiscing about. I’ve never known an America that didn’t offer assistance to some aspect of society for the betterment of the society as a whole. I personally think that like many middle class Americans people simply have no clue to the realities of America. 20 years ago when I was a young patrol officer in Mobile, AL I was introduced to how the “other half” lives. I won’t spend a lot of time getting into details but I was shocked, and continue to be shocked at the abject level of poverty that exists in this country. We spend billions of dollars trying to help eradicate poverty in third world countries yet we have 15% of our population who live in poverty. We support our troops in combat zones then allow them to return home to live in cardboard boxes and shelters that are funded by meager donations and “government handouts”. We export $100 billion dollars per year of food to foreign countries while everyday people go hungry in America because there is not enough to eat.
There is a real disconnect for Americans when it comes to recognizing poverty. Extremists and followers of Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh have convinced themselves that if you’re not a follower of their advocated way of life, you are part of the problem. There is this attitude that poor and disenfranchised people in this country LIKE the life they live. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who wants to live in poverty; who wants to use the burners on their gas stovetop to heat their house or spend everyday stressed out about how they’re going to feed their family one square meal, let alone three. This is a growing problem with America. While the political season was rife with people talking about job creation and unemployment it seems that what gets forgotten in the mix is the human aspect of these topics. There are people who 2 years ago lived in a decent home with a decent job who now live in motels, shelters, cars or worse. They rely on $7200 a year in government assistance (the WSJ has figured that the average person on Government assistance collects $7200 per year total). $7200 a year TOTAL. Man, I can’t wait; where do I sign up? That sounds like a much better life than being a contributing member of society.
While I agree that America is a ship in need of righting, I certainly don’t blame the half of the country that voted for Obama. I blame the half that voted for Romney. Corporate mentality that has permeated into Washington is responsible for the downfall of America. It has been argued that these people are the job creators and the innovators. Great, create some jobs. Don’t hold them hostage because the guy you put up for President lost so you won’t get a great tax break. Do it because it is the right thing to do and because it’s good for this country and our future. When the best we have to offer is a man who ran a company whose sole purpose was to buy and sell other companies, we have reached an era where money has influenced every aspect of life, including our alleged moral compass. Big oil, big pharma and big food have taken over our public offices and the men and women of government are more loyal to a handful of corporations instead of the constituents that put them in office. The average donation made by republicans during the Presidential election: $20,300. The average democratic donation: $250. Now this number is skewed by the number of multi million dollar donors on the right, but those are corporations and people who can afford those types of donations and more importantly, can afford to influence policy. For them it’s an investment with monetary return.
Somehow people have been convinced that if a person voted Democrat they are a deadbeat, tax dodging loser who sucks of the teat of this great country. I get where they are coming from. I would put up smokescreens all day if I was part of the population that earned the most and paid the least. Why bring attention to the other side of this fact: while middle class America has seen it’s earnings drop and it’s net worth fall by $4600 (something we heard from Mitt Romney for the last 3 months of the election), the richest members of society have tripled their worth from $30 billion to $90 billion over the same 10 year period. That is a 300% gain in wealth for those of you keeping count.
Since I started this entry, Mitt Romney’s explanation to his followers as to why he lost the election has been released. Too many Democratic gifts to the poor, apparently. I’ve got a news flash for those people who follow this line of thinking: DEADBEATS DON’T VOTE! The simple truth is men like Mitt Romney are out of touch with reality. The very industry he is most closely associated with is one of the the only segments of the country that is experiencing record growth and earnings while the rest of the country moves backwards. Obama won every aspect of the election except white males. He won the electoral college, the popular vote and the number of states that voted for him was greater than half. There are no other measures that can be spun. America has spoken and it sounds like she is pissed at the creators and innovators who control all of her jobs, money and politicians. The message to take out of this election is America is the sum of all her parts, not just the parts that make the most money. Maybe the best and brightest can figure it out and make it work before it’s too late.