Saving America: It’s up to us

The America we knew and loved for most of our lives is almost gone. The America many of us served and fought to protect began its descent towards the end long ago. America today is a shell of its former greatness, an overwrought parody of itself, writhing in self-induced pain and dying from self-inflicted wounds.

As an increasingly-shrill, partisan debate escalates over who and what is killing America, those who seek to shift blame from themselves point fingers at opponents — both real and perceived — but fail to realize that, to paraphrase Shakespeare, the fault lies in all of us.

The mortal wounds that threaten America’s very survival did not come solely from Republicans or Democrats. They were not inflicted only by conservatives or liberals, by the right or the left or any other singular political party or philosophical persuasion.

No. If American dies, her death will be a case of mass murder, inflicted by a bitter, divided populace who long ago forgot what this country is about, what she means and what it takes to be an American.

We spend far too much time striking out at anyone with differing views that we forget this nation was founded by those who sought to escape from singular thinking and oppression of opposition.

Listen to the hyperbole and overheated rhetoric that passes for discussion and debate nowadays and you find a nation intolerant of dissent, unwilling to examine differing views and determined to stamp out freedom of expression.

Partisan commentators pass off one-sided blather as news, discussion devolves into stubborn recital of talking points and attempts to reach consensus are dismissed as “weakness.”

George W. Bush did not destroy the economy. Neither did Barack Obama, or Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter. All contributed to the current struggles we face, as did the Republicans and Democrats who have changed places running Congress over the past several decades.

If a boogieman must be identified as a scapegoat, let it be greed: Corporate greed and personal greed. Yes, the corporations decided long ago to place shareholder return above employee security but ordinary Americans bought into the “greed is good” mantra by piling on credit card debt and signing mortgages they couldn’t afford to live beyond their means.

Most Americans had a chance to prepare for hard times by saving more and spending less but that meant not having a new boat or a fancy sports car or a house large enough to be a bed and breakfast.

Now, at a time when Americans need to focus on the future and pull together to move forward, too many remain fixated on the past, demanding retribution for the mistakes of our leaders.

Some want George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et. al, in jail for what they see as “war crimes” in the invasion of Iraq. Some say Bill Clinton should be punished for his role in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which made it too attractive for companies to move jobs and manufacturing outside our borders. Still others want some sort of public crucifixion of Ronald Reagan what they see as his crimes.

But if punishment is required, then let’s save some for ourselves. An apathetic America put Bill Clinton into office for two terms. Both of his terms as President came from a minority of Americans because most stayed home and didn’t vote. Too many voters blindly vote for incumbents in Congress because, polls show, they believe that while Congress is corrupt, their Congressman is not part of the problem.

America’s many problems cannot be solved constant bitching and moaning about the past. They cannot be revolved by partisan finger-pointing.

We either pull together or we just keep screaming and shouting at each other while the country continues its slide into oblivion.

If American can be saved it is up to us to do it. Barack Obama can’t save America. Neither can Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Boehner, Eric Kantor, Mitch McConnell or even Sarah Palin.

The fault for America’s decline lies with us.

So does the solution.