Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dear America: Grow the F**k Up!

an open letter

Dear America:

Before coming to the real object of this letter, I'd like to reassure you that I am not a "hater." I don't chortle when I read articles about how fat you are, and I don't smile in self-satisfaction when I read that you don't know which continent Somalia is in, or that you think Arafat is an even worse version of trans-fat.

I've always been happy to live in your land of freedom, convinced that a working-class scholarship boy probably could hope for no better chances at life than I've had here. And I've always found foreign affectations and foibles to be even more annoying than yours. So rest assured, I have your best interests at heart, and I always try to think the best of you.

These past few months have been a challenge, though. A couple of years ago you surprised a lot of people by electing a black President, but not me: I knew the open-mindedness you were capable of. But apparently I had forgotten about the fecklessness, cowardice and paranoia that lurked beneath that veneer of open-handed reasonableness. I had forgotten that in spite of your 234 years, you still possess the intellectual and emotional maturity of your average nine-year-old.

Now, granted, things have been tough, and tough times can bring out a cranky streak in the best of us. But watching Velma Hart, a representative, apparently, of your deepest held feelings and thoughts, wail and complain to the President the other day really drove home to me that, you, America, are unfit to rule yourself.

"I've been told that I voted for a man who said he's going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I'm one of those people, and I'm waiting, sir. I'm waiting. I don't feel it yet. . . . I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now."

In short, you are still waiting for a parent, or a superhero or God to do the things that only you can do and, while he or she is at it, to do a bunch of things that no one can do. While you just go on doing whatever it is you do.

Well, guess what America? It doesn't work that way. Change isn't made by electing someone whose slogan is change. No elected representative is going to Washington waving a magic wand to make everything better while you watch re-runs on television or post inane observations on Facebook (or write blogs, for that matter). Change comes through work and cost to yourself.

No elected representative has a time machine to undo the dumbass things you and your poorly supervised representatives have done in the past. So, no you haven't just up and left Iraq and Afghanistan, becuase having already invaded and overthrown the governments there you have a moral responsibility to see the transition through. And no, you don't get your money back because you belated think adventurous wars aren't such a good idea. And no, you don't get the money back from the huge deficits run up from the last administration you elected because now you've decided that maybe deficits are a thing to worry about. And yes, you did still have a huge, expensive, nearly cataclysmic economic crisis just two years ago. And, yes, you'll be paying the price for the idiocy of the last ten years or so for some time to come.

The "change" that needs to happen is a change is a change in YOU, America. YOU have to stop thinking that Obama or Palin or tinkerbell is going to save you and make every little thing alright. It ain't going to happen. And you have to stop thinking that the political managers you install are going to work in your interests when you a) have no real conception of what those are; b) you don't do much at all to supervise the activities of these managers; and c) you know so little about what these managers do.

"I am waiting" is frankly a pathetic attitude to take when you are supposedly in charge of yourself. You are waiting for what? The waving the magic wand option being out, as discussed above, what economic tradeoffs look wise to you right now? Oh, you didn't know low taxes came at a cost? Or that you might have to choose between two unpleasant options like deficits or stagnation? Don't like the War in Afghanistan? Well are you willing to take responsibility for what happens when you leave? No, of course you aren't. Don't like torture and the extra-legal detention in Guantanamo? Well, are you willing to live with the consequences of closing the place? Willing to support a prison on the mainland? And trials on the mainland? No, I thought not.

America, you have too long been an absentee landlord in Washington, blissfully ignorant of what's going on there, and swooping in occasionally to kick out a few obvious bad tenants and a few others more-or-less at random. Of course things don't go well with you. In fact, you've gotten way better service than you've deserved over the years. Luckily, the good old boys and girls DO actually seem to feel a bit of paternalistic affection for you in spite of your fecklessness.

But, as I said, tough times do bring out the crankiness in us. America, it is time to grow the fuck up or shut the fuck up. Let Velma know what you decide.