What has happened to this country?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Thomas Veil, Nov 23, 2004.

  1. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #1
    Interesting article over at ABC News: Some Say U.S. No Longer Feels Like Home.

    Some of the points mentioned by the folks in the article echo things we've said here:


    Though the last few paragraphs deal specifically with gays and lesbians, that part about the "closing of the American mind" is what really shakes me.

    I know I've never seen a time in this country when open-mindedness was held in such contempt.

    I can perfectly understand that powerless feeling they mentioned. Some of us feel that no matter how hard we campaign, no matter how we "frame" the argument, there are no longer enough open minds left to enact anything resembling a liberal, or perhaps even moderate, agenda. Thus comes the feeling of exclusion.

    It leaves us to ask: what has happened to us as a nation? And is this just a "phase", or the beginning of the decline that eventually befalls all powerful societies?
     
  2. Xtremehkr macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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  3. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #3
    As for the general trend this country is heading, I don't know. I know a lot of misinformed people, and a lot of people who want the government to enforce their concept of morality on the entire nation. This scares me. But, on the flip side, I know a lot of people (almost as many on the conservative/libertarian side as on the liberal side) who are in stark opposition to this viewpoint.

    In the end, I think what most Americans want are solutions to the problems our society is facing. Crime, drug use, abuse of the welfare system, poverty, corporate crime, etc. are all seen as problems by the majority of Americans. One problem we have in addressing these problems is that our politicians frame the solutions to these problems in absolute terms.

    Conservative: Crime rate is up? Crack down on criminals! Lock 'em up and throw away the key! For the real baddies? Quick death!

    Liberal: Crime rate is up? It isn't their fault! They are poor! They have nowhere else to turn! Stop throwing black men in jail, it is devestating their communities!

    Let's be realistic here. Is either of these extreme positions likely to reduce crime in the long term? Both positions have points which are valid, but neither position is viable in the long term. Is compromise warranted?

    Another problem we have in addressing our nations woes is the simplistic view many Americans take in solving their problems. Somehow, the majority of Americans have it in their head that the solution to any problematic activity is to ban and crack down on that activity. Drugs are bad. Yeah, yeah, most can agree with this statement. But what do we do about them?

    "Duh," many would reply, "you make them illegal and throw violators in prison." Fine, lets try that. Do you REALLY think that by making them illegal and locking up users you are going to stop people from taking drugs? Really?? Making things illegal isn't the magic bullet to solve every problem. Drugs have been illegal for a really long time, yet drug use is still prevalent. Why? Because legality has little to do with the decision making process of a person using drugs.

    This attitude is based on a faulty premise: by banning objectionable behavior we can RID society of that behavior. Any realistic person looking at the situation would realize that you can never RID society of these problems. What we can do is reduce the problems' effect on society.

    You don't like abortion? Well neither do many other Americans (even those who support a woman's right to an abortion). You don't like drugs? Well neither do most other Americans. You wish the crime rate were lower? So does everyone (well, maybe not the criminals).

    Now that we are on the same page, we should consider the possibility that the solution to the problem isn't a "yes" or "no." The answer might not be as simple as "ban abortion" or "allow abortion." With either of those solutions, abortions will still happen. It's a fact. So for those against abortion, how can we reduce the number of abortions in the country? Better sex education might help. How about better access to information on adoption? How about the promotion of adoption with prospective parents? How about emphasis on acceptance of teens with an unexpected pregnancy in the schools and the community? How about education campaigns aimed at getting parents and their children communicating about sex and reproductive issues? How about studies of sexual behavior? How about studies of teen pregnancy?

    There are so many ways to approach problems other than just sweeping them under the covers (ie. sending people away to prison). I think Americans owe it to their country to explore these options. What do you think?

    Taft
     
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #4
    i agree w/ what you're saying, but you're fighting an uphill battle. such discourse requires people to 1) be curious, and 2) listen. and lately these things seem to be in short supply. both in the populace and in politics.
     
  5. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #5
    To look on the bright side, that's at least ONE person who can spell populace... :)
    Things are looking up!
     
  6. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #6
    Yes, YES! If all of the people on the left who threaten to leave actually do it, it will be much harder to take back the Whitehouse in '08. By leaving you are admitting defeat and just handing over the reigns to the neocons.
     
  7. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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  8. Lyle macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #8
    Maybe it was a play on words (think about it). Give atszyman a little credit. ;)
     
  9. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #9
    Actually I don't deserve any credit. It works out nicely as play on words, but I did truly intend to use reins, I just had a slight lapse in my vocabulary/spelling skills. On the bright side at least I didn't use "rains". ;)
     
  10. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #10
    Easier said than done. For some reason, some conservatives on the right have been able to fight back at what they see as a liberal bias in the laws. They, in most cases, do not speak for the majority, but they do have a loud clear voice. And an organized one.

    IMO the "liberal element" holds very dear the the concept of a nation "for the people, by the people"; and find organizations to sound that horn to be an opposite of what we should have. And even when they do have organizations, there is much infighting that defeats the message from being clear.

    As a member of the Gay community, I will use them as an example. Instead of focusing on "marriage" or civil union rights, and basic civil rights, we get bogged down in every subgroup and their agenda. To me it would like MLK trying to bring civil rights to African-Americans (then known as Black's), with those that wanted Sanataria rights, or any other rights that small groups would have wanted.
     
  11. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #11
    Also making it harder for people to go overseas to adopt babies, could be another cry. None make anyone happy. We are very selective in what we want to hear on both sides IMO.
     
  12. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #12
    The neocons deserve the hell that they will end up creating IMO, both at home and in the world. Like many great societies, the neocons may lead the demise of what was a great nation.
     
  13. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #13
    damn, i was trying to spell "rain".

    :D
     
  14. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #14
    I agree. But this is at least half the problem.

    Until people wake up and demand real solutions for problems and seek out information regarding the best possible course, politicians will never give them anything but binary positions on the issues. In other words, until the populace demands something more than a sound bite, all they are going to get is a sound bite.

    If you are sick of how well politicians are able to manipulate the public through sound bites and thoughtless solutions, you might consider how to cut off the source of those sound bites: an ignorant public.

    I've seen several people advance the idea that the government actually wants to rule an ignorant populace. Why? Because they are easier to control. I know it sounds paranoid, but who is easier to control than a poverty stricken, uneducated serf? They don't have the resources to fight back and they don't have the education to even know they are being manipulated.

    So, in some ways, the more the system breaks down and the average person gets screwed out of education and access to a decent wage, the more certain people will benefit. Makes you wonder if any politicians or their corporate sponsors are actually working toward this type of situation. The thought cares me.

    In many ways, I see better education as the way out of many of the problems we have today. What better way to hold the government accountable and instigate long-term reform?

    Taft
     
  15. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #15
    agreed. i think curiosity is a way to combat that.

    so do i. too bad it's so fashionable these days (and for as long as i've been alive) to be somewhat short of being smart. i know a LOT of people who voluntarily dumb themselves down to fit in better. i do it sometimes, too, w/ certain family members. that's a lesson i "learned" growing up.
     
  16. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #16
    Not everybody can be smart, whereas anybody can be a celebrity. Go figure, as you seem to say over there...
     
  17. Zaid macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Agreed. Ultimately politics has become what it is because the public don't demand or expect any better. When you have an ignorant and uninterested public, political discourse is replaced with spin. Government, it seems, is being run in much the same way as a reality tv show.
     
  18. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #18
    To address just one part of all this: If forty percent of the voters don't bother, I see this as meaning that the majority of them don't care one way or the other about who wins. I'm omitting those who "just gave up" or feel that "just one vote won't matter" because IMO they're a minority of non-voters.

    IOW, a lot of people just aren't curious about the world they live in and why it works the way it does (or doesn't). And/or they don't see any difference between one candidate or another insofar as their own lives are affected. For all I know, some of them are happy as pigs in poop with their world.

    Now, because of my years I don't get as wound up as some on this board, because I've seen it all before. The main difference between the two Parties, now, seems like, is the amount of emotion on the part of the loyalists.

    The first post's article? Hey, when FDR was elected, all manner of people were hollering about leaving the country. Many wouldn't allow his name to be spoken in their home. "That Man" was all that was allowed. When JFK was elected, many grumbled about Vatican advisors in his Cabinet. Reagan was supposed to save us or destroy us, depending on your reference point.

    I think Taft has the right of it, though: We got lots of problems. Can't solve them--if they're indeed solvable--with the spin-doctors in full song. Can't solve them if people instead of listening to differences of opinion are merely awaiting their own turn to emote.

    'Rat
     
  19. Xtremehkr macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    #19
    Ans sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and fight fire with fire. If it is war they want it is war they will get. It's not that hard to understand why they are getting the support right now, the same old tricks have been around for thousands of years. The GOP has just sunk to the lowest levels lately as they abandon all standards to take power.

    I also think that a lot of policies the left wing of politics in America have been pursuing need to be re-thought based on a fresh look at how the modern world is working. But that is a seperate issue.
     
  20. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #20
    Man, do I hate that attitude. And like you, I think anyone with curiosity enough to learn about the world around them has learned to "hide" that intelligence from certain people lest they be treated like an outsider. There is such contempt for people with a higher education--or a desire for a higher education, or anyone displaying intellectual curiosity--in this country that its almost alarming.

    And what really pisses me off is the pundits who go out of their way to validate this contempt. How many times have you heard the word "elite" from some Rush-impersonating talking head? "The elite media is trying to 'educate' you in liberal ideals." Sure, there may be some on the left that think they know what's best for everyone and are condescending and patronizing towards people who don't share their beliefs. Then again, there are a lot of people on the right that fit that bill nicely.

    The left isn't "elite." And most of them don't think they know what's best for you.

    I gotta stop reading boortz.

    Taft
     
  21. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    #21
    Zim and Taft, I am reminded of the old Bill Hicks routine about being in a Southern Wafflehouse alone reading a book. The waitress comes up and asks "what are you reading for? This is later capped off by a trucker coming up to his table and announcing "well look here, we gots ourself a reader."

    As is often the case with Hicks, it makes an excellent point (the same as yours) and is damn funny.

    On a personal note, I often have to "dumb down" in certain company. It is not that I am necessarily that smart, but I am well-educated, fairly well-read, and have an English accent (fading) and etiquette. Coupled with the fact that I am just asian enough to be dark and slightly effeminate, I often have a chance at the trifecta of contempt/dislike: Elite Liberal, Ethnic minority and Gay. The fact that I am none of these things doesn't really matter and I concede I find it easier to cater to the lowest-common-denominator with these assumptions than the more difficult path of following principle to dispell them or just not give a f***.
     
  22. Zaid macrumors 6502

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    #22
    :D I am liberal (though i'd probably be called a socialist in the US), Ethnic minority and Gay though i tend to follow the path of not really giving a f**k.

    I know what you mean about the path of least resistance. Sometimes it just isn't worth the effort, so you just play along.
     
  23. katchow macrumors 6502

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    #23
    i mainly read so i don't end up being a waitress at a waffle house :)

    i was thinkin the same thing blackfox...too weird.
     

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