The recent government shutdown over a stupid power play by right wing extremists, along with their threat to cause the United States to default on its debt, were more than just political theater and more even than a showdown episode. It was an exercise in self-destruction.
Yes, it was destructive to the Republican Party. On the other hand, the Republicans stopped being true conservatives at least 35 years ago and instead have focused on transferring wealth to the already rich from all the rest of us, ensuring our prisons are full of chronically voiceless people and starting unnecessary wars. So, who really cares if the Republican Party is in self-immolation mode? Just let them burn to the ground and perhaps some sane voices will emerge from the ashes.
The self-destruction you need to pay attention to is that of the United States of America. We have threatened the entire world with financial catastrophe. We have demonstrated repeatedly that our primary goal is national dysfunction. We have marginalized the majority of Americans. We have dramatically expanded the ranks of our poor. We have declared that we don’t want to fund the education of our children. And we do want to arrest and torture people without so much as charging them with a crime and then keep them imprisoned endlessly. All of this stands in stark contrast to the values we say we believe in like truth, justice, democracy, fairness, opportunity and other worthwhile attributes.
Given that contrast, what do you suppose the people in the rest of the world think when they hear the happy words but see the not-so-happy deeds? Surely, our mixed messages pull the rug from under their trust and confidence in us. Don’t imagine that is a small thing.
Trust is the cornerstone of relationship and we are in continuous relationship with a global society. For many decades the standard of world trade has been the American dollar. It is the symbol of global influence enhanced not just by military might, but also by trust and confidence in our values and our dependability. Once those things are gone, the money of some other country will step in and be the global standard and the United States will be a second tier country.
We are in a headlong rush to hand over world leadership to China, led with daring forcefulness by crazy Americans who tell the world that the United States cannot be trusted. They do that by paralyzing our government and threatening creditors with our default and those exercises are scheduled for a replay in the middle of January.
For more on the American Brand and the crazy messages we give the world, review Bruce Terkel’s blog here. Then comment below with your ideas about how to stop us from repeatedly shooting ourselves in the foot.
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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