What are the current economic, social, and political, realities living in the United States? I believe I can say with complete candor that we live in a communal environment that is essentially unsettling, unsafe, corrosive, and often dangerous. The problems we face as a people are complex, multi-faceted and fraught with ominous possibilities for the future if left unattended.The current over-riding economic issue is the monumental disparity in the distribution of wealth in the nation. Ten percent of the population actually possesses 85% of the entire wealth of the nation (from a report issued by the Economic Policy Institute). Furthermore, an additional portion of this wealth is squirreled away in secret off-shore accounts. A significant number of the current holders of this wealth do not seem to have any real sense of moral or social responsibility and seem to be devoid of any semblance of a moral compass. Many seem to eschew taxation of any kind, use their wealth as a means to influence and manipulate public policy to foster their own interests, and are apparently oblivious to the staggering needs that so many of the nation’s people face on a daily basis.
In my estimation, this endemic and distorted imbalance in the distribution of financial resources is in many ways responsible for the many social crises we are facing as a people. As a result, wealth that could be used to promote and sustain the common good has become scarce. Consequently, the United States has become a nation where so many are rendered homeless; where about one-quarter of the nation’s children live in poverty; where the nation’s poor have a mortality rate that is exceeding diminished as compared to their wealthier counterparts; where the accessibility to meaningful health care and mental health services is sadly restricted, and where essential social services are often lacking. There is no rational explanation for this kind of severe discrepancy. It is a situation that will worsen over time. This perverse situation is essentially unsustainable.
This reality should not be a surprise, given the fact that this nation was founded on the underlying premise that members of the white and propertied class would and should rule. There was no expectation at that time that there would ever be real equity for all. It was never questioned that real power would ever be in the hands of other than the chosen few. This reality essentially remains unchanged to this day.
In my mind, the most disturbing aspect of the current social environment that is particularly apparent within far right of the political spectrum – whose views do not reflect the sentiments of the general population - is the apparent predilection to embrace violent means to terrorize and impose their extreme views on everyone. This is unfolding within a culture that seems to have embraced the universal possession of weaponry with extremely dangerous potential. Furthermore, the endemic hatred and bigotry that are essential components of the white-supremacy movement has become incorporated into the philosophical foundations of a major political party. These developments suggest a future in which civil strife will become normalized and democratic principles of government will devolve into the imposition of minority rule that would require the use of severely repressive methods to maintain itself. This kind of future would inevitably be unsustainable and wreck enormous havoc upon the American people.
Again, this should come as no surprise in a country that supported and maintained the institution of slavery for hundreds of years; that committed acts of near-genocide against native populations and effectively drove them from their land; that carried on many wars of aggression against people of color around the world using weaponry of mass destruction and inflicting unspeakable destruction; and that has repeatedly condoned violence directed at immigrants from foreign lands throughout its relatively short lifespan. The cumulative impact of this history has effectively imbedded bigotry, intolerance, and hatred into the national psyche. These widely-shared attitudes have worsened in recent years due to the undeniable fact the United States will soon be a white minority country. It is for this central reason that democracy has lost its luster especially in sections of the country where slavery and racism were acutely prevalent. What is particularly discouraging about this overarching reality is that race is a made-up term, for all of humanity is comprised of members of the same species, Homo sapiens – the notion of white supremacy is entirely fallacious.
Again, in this light, the current state of the nation is entirely consistent with its past.