Rich people in the United States tell poor people, especially poor black people, that their poverty is their own fault. The American ethos celebrates the self-made man. The great American delusion is that every individual has the opportunity to make something of themselves. To achieve greatness by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. That this analogy represents something physically impossible and that it was originally coined as a joke is, perhaps, more telling about America than anything else. Especially as the white folk have rigged the game in their favour a long time back. The real America is a moral maelstrom.
The Roots Of America As Slaver Nation
America was a slaver nation with half the country set up around slavery as the economic model. The rest of the country benefitted from slavery through the banks and the financialization of slavery via bonds. There were some 6 million slaves with an average worth of a $1000 per slave – that was a lot of money back then. Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and the 13th Amendment put an end to chattel slavery in 1865. However, Reconstruction did not serve the black former slaves well, as the South got around it by their Black Codes and peonage slavery. Jim Crow laws would establish apartheid and keep African Americans repressed as second class citizens for a hundred years. It was not until the Civil Rights protest of the 1960’s that these onerous impositions would be lifted. Americans all over from east to west and north to south took advantage of the suppression of African Americans economically. Blacks were banned from buying property on white only housing estates post WW2. The FDR New Deal reflected the racist heart of the nation because the politics of the time demanded it. The Nazis had looked to America as a role model for their apartheid and eugenics policies in the 1930’s. Indeed, the US would take in some 10, 000 Nazi party members as new migrants immediately after the war for scientific and security purposes. America remains a racist nation and you can see this evidenced in the health and education systems. Segregation still exists in schools and neighbourhoods across the country.
Too few black doctors are a direct result of racist policies by the academic medical training institutions. The imbalance in funding levels between white and black schools and campuses is huge. Democracy in America has failed African Americans. This is not a place to look up to on that score.
America’s Identity Politics
Greedy and exploitative behaviour hides behind identity politics and social issues. Voters are more motivated by emotive stuff like cultural values than just economics. Populist politicians like Trump and the new radical reactionary GOP clothe their campaigns in anti-woke stances on social issues. They champion socially conservative attitudes about LGBTQIA people and things like access to abortion and immigration. Critical Race Theory has been framed as a socially divisive bogeyman and banned in states like Florida. It seems that sensitive white folk do not want to be reminded of their history, slavery, apartheid, and the ongoing economic disparity between whites and African Americans. Better to ban all that bad news getting out to future generations of Americans. Nikki Hayley, one of the leading GOP candidates in the party’s primary race for the presidency cannot bring herself to mention what the Civil War was all about.
The GOP want to whitewash American history in the 21C, as they have for a century or more in schools and colleges across the US. Nobody was taught about Wilmington, North Carolina or Tulsa, Oklahoma at school in America. These historical race massacres were conveniently left off the curriculum, it seems.
The GOP & Neoliberal Economic Policies
The GOP has led the charge via neoliberal economic policies to dismantle the New Deal over the last 30 plus years. Reagan began the removal of anti-trust laws to allow for the fleecing of middle America by big business. Americans get so blinded by distracting cultural issues that they miss the main game. The divide between rich and poor has never been greater in economic terms. Manufacturing jobs were outsourced offshore to make more money for investors and CEOs. Unions were gutted and their influence made redundant. Both sides of politics embraced the neoliberal way forward. Private equity takeovers have seen healthcare and higher education become unaffordable for most Americans. Money managers have taken over the economy and despite global crashes still rule the roost. Central bank bail outs to the tune of $29 trillion have cemented the power of the banks within the economy. Most Americans despise the system but are locked into it by the two party setup.
Conservative voters stick with the GOP because of their socially conservative position, even though the GOP is the party of billionaires and big business. Stupid is as stupid does, I suppose.
Gun Violence Plagues The US
Gun violence continues to kill innocent Americans.
“For God’s sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough is enough?” asked U.S. President Joe Biden in a nationally televised address in May — days after the deadliest U.S. school shooting incident in nearly a decade.
Biden joined the nation in mourning after an 18-year-old gunman wielding a semi-automatic rifle killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Fox News Poisoning America With Lies & Mistruths
The polarization of pollical views and increasing tribalism means that many people only consume news from within their own bubble. Fox News is a prime example of this. It was recently successfully sued for $700 million dollars for libelous false reporting about the 2020 presidential election. There appear to be no standards of reporting upheld in the American media by any agency overseeing this. Fake news amid the social media platforms is rife. Trump has been fact checked and found to have lied many thousands of times to his followers on social media. A compulsive liar being elected to the presidency has been a nadir for America. If any one thing can be considered emblematic of the decline of the US it must be this. The re-election of Trump would be terminal in its catastrophic ramifications, not only for the US but for the world.
The real America is a moral maelstrom because as odious as Donald J Trump is – it is his supporters who define large parts of the country. The toxic nature of racism exploited by the politics of grievance propels conmen like Trump. Trump is primarily motivated by greed and grifts many millions of dollars from his supporters. They are paying his legal bills right now. Trump has been successfully sued for $83 million by E. Jean Carroll, a writer he sexually abused and then defamed. Trump is about to be fined a further $350 million by the New York state for business fraud. In addition, he is subject to multiple criminal indictments for election interference, the January 6th Insurrection, stealing top secret national security documents, and several other matters. His life and career is like a runaway train and right now it is leaving the rails for a date with his diabolical destiny. If Trump is the champion of America’s Christian Nationalists, white supremacists, and generally loathsome folk I hope his messy demise is a salutary lesson for this self-entitled bunch.
“The louder they roar,
The harder that they fall.”
(The Harder They Fall, Song by Koffee)
“Many explanations are proposed for the continued rise of Donald Trump, and the steadfastness of his support, even as the outrages and criminal charges pile up. Some of these explanations are powerful. But there is one I have seen mentioned nowhere, which could, I believe, be the most important: Trump is king of the extrinsics.
Some psychologists believe our values tend to cluster around certain poles, described as “intrinsic” and “extrinsic”. People with a strong set of intrinsic values are inclined towards empathy, intimacy and self-acceptance. They tend to be open to challenge and change, interested in universal rights and equality, and protective of other people and the living world.
People at the extrinsic end of the spectrum are more attracted to prestige, status, image, fame, power and wealth. They are strongly motivated by the prospect of individual reward and praise. They are more likely to objectify and exploit other people, to behave rudely and aggressively and to dismiss social and environmental impacts. They have little interest in co-operation or community. People with a strong set of extrinsic values are more likely to suffer from frustration, dissatisfaction, stress, anxiety, anger and compulsive behaviour.
Trump exemplifies extrinsic values. From the tower bearing his name in gold letters to his gross overstatements of his wealth; from his endless ranting about “winners” and “losers” to his reported habit of cheating at golf. Trump, perhaps more than any other public figure in recent history, is a walking, talking monument to extrinsic values.”
- (George Monbiot, The Guardian, 1 Feb 2024)
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom.