Although we are consistently told by all manner of data that the American populace is divided nearly in half politically, there are so many other divisions that belie that seeming reality. Factor in white nationalism (popularly called “racism”), for example. Women’s issues divide, as do LGBT issues, and on and on.
Politicians and pundits are forever proclaiming “the American people,” as though they’ve communicated with us all and are relaying our thoughts, needs and desires. Elected officials vote their consciences, which is to say they mostly vote for financing to be re-elected.
Can some 320 million multi-varied people, lumped together without appreciating and honoring their diversity, call themselves a group, “the American people?” Such delusion cannot prevail, especially with demographic reality claiming the United States of America.
Politicians and pundits from President Obama down have saturated mass media with the term “entitlements” and have lodged Social Security into that category hoping to corral “the American people” into thinking differently about a deal made years ago by the U.S. government.
And what was that deal? The government said that it would take a tax out of every worker’s gross payday and upon the retirement of the worker return a portion of that withholding tax on a monthly basis until death of the surviving spouse.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law on Aug. 8, 1935. (It was developed as the Economic Security Act but the name was changed by Congress.) Taxes were collected for the first time in January 1937. Therefore, what all workers in America need to understand is that Social Security is not an “entitlement;” it is a debt owed by the U. S. government through an act of Congress signed by the president. Any abridgement, then, is a violation of the people’s trust and therefore contradicts the very foundation on which the United States of America stands as a democratic republic. It is that, isn’t it?
Not only are many elderly Americans questioning if the Executive Branch and Congress, generally speaking, can be trusted to do the right thing; this attitude is especially pronounced regarding Social Security. While living longer, elderly Americans have children who are now middle-aged and near middle-aged workers (to me workers also include lawyers, doctors, engineers, web designers, etc.).
Meanwhile, powerful forces on either side of the American divide are trying to promote a large, powerful federal government or a smaller federal government with limited powers as ideal for our so-called democracy.
Illustrative of how entrenched forms of fascism, cancer-like, sicken the body politic is our past November general election results being dismissed by un-American ideology, through every means possible. Last November, our government, representative of the American people by majority vote, was chosen. Yet nothing in the system, including public opinion, can seem to grasp a foothold as we slide, with increasing speed, into the abyss. Heed the warning, America.
What “American people” are they talking about? You? Me? Who? Many Americans are so angry, disgusted, scared and confused. Others feel let down, tricked and betrayed and there are those who believe in nothing and no one. And fear of the future is present-day America’s general malaise.
So Americans have begun to blame whoever is nearest. Anxiety, snake-like, coils its pernicious hold and violence betrays compassion. The combustion reverberating throughout society increases rents in our fragile fabric called democracy. Soon, very soon, if the trend is not abated, violence can escalate and spill out as chaos, then revolution.
We, the some 350 million American people, trusted them and not ourselves. We violated our part of the agreement upon which our concept of democracy rests: “We the people . . .” It does not mean a privileged oligarchy is to be formed and own access. It does not mean a plutocracy should rule. No. We the people have abrogated our responsibility to the commonweal.
We the people must organize, organize, and organize against the tyranny of obfuscation and mendacity. For true democracy to evolve from the ideal to the real, the American people must make it happen.
Al Calloway is a longtime journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle. He may be reached at Al_Calloway@verizon.net