Another Shot In The Foot

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 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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3 Responses to Another Shot In The Foot
  1. Jim Altschuler Reply

    I, too, agree, but I am even more concerned about the direction in which the country (read “government”) is going than I am about the determination of who the heroes are. As you have intimated there has to be a radical change in the direction we’re going as well as in the way our governmental bodies are “operating” – I’m not certain that we can call what is happening in the government operating, but I use the term for lack of a better one.

    Simplified, over the last 60 years I’ve watched the governing of our country go from benign and paranoid in the 50’s …

    to radical extremism coupled with rampant paranoia in the 60’s including a lot of lies …

    to the “Me” generation including me-me-mine-mine by the citizens as well as the representatives in Congress and the White House in the 70’s, including GOBS of lying …

    to major apathy in the 80’s (this was a decade of non-stop lying) including the beginning of finger-pointing “government by blaming” …

    to confusion by most of the populace (as to what the hell was going on in government) with a continuation of non-stop lying and a firming of the blame policy in the 90’s …

    followed finally by the last 13 years, during which (I totally concur with you) our nation’s reputation has been, at best, marginalized if not completely undermined, as well as our currency.

  2. Sharon Sanders Reply

    The sad thing is: you’re absolutely right. I’m in agreement with everything you wrote. Last night, I heard Anne Wright at a Chicago Area Peace Action event. Her speech was entitled– “And Then They Came for Us”. I suggest you look her up or get her book–she was in the US Army, NSA, State Dept. and she left with frustration because she believes whistleblowers like Snowden, Manning, and others are heros, not traitors. In a “free” society, the people are entitled to know what their government is doing (except in rare situation where it’s not in our best interest). Right now, everyone is being spied on by a country that used to be the bastion of free speech and the right to be able to communicate with others without being spied on.

    I also suggest you read David Sirota’s article from this past week in

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Sharon, I think the issue is balance.

      All nations spy. It is and always has been a part of self-protection in a dangerous world.
      And, by the nature of spying, it needs to be done in secret. The questions that I see as core to this are where limits should be drawn and who we can trust to monitor the behavior of our clandestine services and keep them within bounds we find acceptable.

      It is well documented that President Bush’s team broke the law in many ways. Right now it appears that our spying activities under President Obama are dangerous to a free society and anathema to privacy. At the same time, we as a society want as much protection against violence as we can get. I’ve yet to hear an articulation about that dichotomy that defines a clear and compelling balance point. And that leaves me unable to decide who the heroes are.