But through the whole day, while people all around donned red and white striped tops, flag pins, and other American themed apparel, I sank into my chair as I took the holiday as a chance to catch up on national and international news. By the time fireworks began to fly into the low hanging clouds and disappear over the Pacific, I had lost all impetus for celebration.
I used to think that "godless America hating lefties" were a myth created by Fox News to scare old people out of their retirement savings, but now I fear I have become one of them. If America is, as supposed, the sum of our founding documents and constitutional principles, then I have very few grievances to levy against her. However, if we instead define America as the sum of actions taken in her name by her people, I find so much more objectionable material.
So, in deference to the Declaration we nearly deify this week, I want to air my list of grievances.
- The Supreme Court has decided that the Voting Rights Act is working so well that we should get rid of it, which is like cutting away your parachute because it's slowing you down.
- Within a day of SCOTUS gutting the VRA, the state of Texas implemented its Voter ID law, and they are not alone. GOP controlled legislatures in North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama all have pending Voter ID legislation which collectively have the potential to disenfranchise millions of voters (primarily minority and poor voters who are more likely to vote Democrat).
- Likewise, across the nation there has been a Republican Blitzkrieg on abortion rights. Ohio, North Carolina, and Texas have all tried to pass extreme anti-choice legislation in the past week with surprising speed, secrecy, and success. And even when attempts to sneak the legislation through in secret failed, the Texas GOP attempted to use FRAUD in full view of over 200,000 people to pass it illegally anyways.
- Only 6 abortion clinics would likely remain open across all of Texas if the law goes into affect, and it's being done, so says the GOP, IN THE NAME OF WOMEN'S HEALTH! Yet if a law was passed that would close all but 6 gun shops in Texas the GOP would be crying "GOVERNMENT TYRANNY" left and right! What kind of country do we live in where our deadly weapons are valued more than women?
- Included in many of these anti-abortion bills are requirements for mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds that are medically unnecessary, often paid for by the woman, and incredibly painful. If I had my way, a corresponding law would be implemented mandating that every male contemplating passing such a bill have a catheter thrust up his penis so that he would have the "opportunity" to reconsider his decision.
- I'm angry about everything Greta Christina is angry about.
- We also seem to like getting involved in as many wars as possible but don't like be saddled with the consequences. Not content with our wars in Afghanistan and Iran or saber rattling with stealth bombers at North Korea, we have been arming Syrian rebels. The death toll in Syria is somewhere around 100,000 already and we've stepped in and picked a side. And who has stepped in and picked the other side? Russia.
- There are only 46 countries that the US does not have standing armed forces, and that's 46 too few for some people. Let's face it, we love blowing stuff up. The US alone accounts for 39% of the world's military spending. That's more than the next 12 largest spenders combined and over 4 times the spending of the runner-up China. We still have over 45,000 troops in Germany, over 50,000 in Japan, and 28,500 in South Korea to name just a few.
- 90% of our citizens support universal background checks for gun purchases, but 46% of the US Senate decided that wasn't going to happen.
- It's no surprise then that we have declared a war on everything and completely strip mined the term war of all it's meaning. We're fighting a "War on women," a "War on drugs," a "War on terror," a "War on coal," and a "War on Christmas." We have been at war for all but 21 years since our founding over 200 years ago.
- While other countries discuss what we should do to combat global warming, we spend our time convincing our leaders that climate change isn't a conspiracy cooked up by 97% of climate scientists around the world. If that wasn't bad enough, we also have to fight people like GOP Congressman Joe Barton who said of the issue: "I would point out that if you’re a believer in in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy."
- But climate science denial can't hold a candle to the reigning champion of professional ignorance: Creationism. A 2012 Gallup poll determined that 46% of Americans believed God created humans with no evolution at all and 32% believed that God guided the process of evolution. Neither number has changed much in 30 years. If that wasn't bad enough, 39% of Americans specifically stated they believed the Earth was under 10,000 years old.
|Belief in Evolution by country. We're the one right above Turkey.|
|Another chart to drive home how odd we are|
All of this also goes to another grievance: our debates are over facts not opinions. Instead of discussing differences in theory of governance or opinion on policy, we spend a vast portion of our public discourse disputing reality.
I could go on and on and on but I can't take writing this diatribe any longer.
Still, I feel I can't leave my computer without reminding myself that being able to write this post without any fear of reprisal from my government means that perhaps my country isn't that bad after all.