Where's the U?
In the divided USA, the U has taken a hike. Constant attack on our federal government finally took their toll.
Every shout of "states' rights," every groundless anti-government rant, every snip of the safety net pushes U farther from our shiny shores.
Rejected and betrayed, unwanted and unneeded, it's gone.
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We had better find it, and fast, for it is the "united" part that had made America the greatest country in the world. Without it, we fall.
Signs of slippage abound. The wealth gap is at historic highs. Tax cuts have starved government and slashed services, especially those most important to the everyday citizen. Without U, our general welfare will continue to deteriorate.
Yet many trash our government at every opportunity, often in ways once considered treasonous. Worse, they are dead wrong. Typical is critic-in-chief Rand Paul's recent statement that our government "can't even deliver the mail."
Tell that to the thousands of tireless carriers who braved the snow this winter. The Postal Service — long broken off from the government to be a private business — is one of the world's most enduring human-services success stories. Something's amiss when a guy who is so patently wrong, that someone who can't even get that simple and obvious truth right is a senator, much less a serious candidate for the presidency.
Sen. Mitch McConnell has made a career of attacking the government.
Most recently he made a seditious call for states to disobey federal law by refusing to submit plans to reduce power-plant emissions. Not since the days of slavery has a Senate leader called for state rebellion against the federal government.
Such states-righters want to take us back. They scorn civil rights, dis voting rights and detest social welfare. On these and other issues they scream, "Let the states decide!" They seem to have forgotten that we fought the Civil War over precisely this issue. They lost. Big time.
But why such contempt? It is because a united citizenry is all that stands in the way of complete dominance by the rich, the corporate and the favored few — the new aristocracy.
Thus, their sordid strategy has been to destroy the public's faith in government. This would allow them to cut taxes, deregulate and slash services. But early on they had a problem: Government was great. It beautifully fulfilled its constitutional duty "to promote the general welfare."
So they did what all self-interested demagogues do: They lied. With a divide-and-conquer strategy and President Ronald Reagan as the front man, they trashed our government at every turn. Reagan's "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," and "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help" struck the first blows.
With apologies to Winston Churchill, never has so much harm been done to so many by so few.
On his excellent website, Government is Good, professor Douglas Amy of Mt. Holyoke University details just a few of our government's successes: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, public health programs, the highway system, regulation of interstate commerce, Federal Deposit Insurance, the GI Bill, the Federal Housing Authority, consumer protection, anti-discrimination policies, clean water and air programs, workplace safety, child protection, the military, the National Weather Service, anti-poverty programs, food and drug safety programs, student financial aid, national parks, rural electrification, AmeriCorps and Peace Corps, the Cooperative Extension Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Crime Information Center.
Such federal activism fashioned the best version of America: an interconnected quilt, knit with compassion and made ever stronger by our unity.
What critics really dislike is the fact the federal government is so successful. For then the citizens will view the government and the taxes we pay in a more positive, and realistic, light.
And scariest of all for them, the U may just return.