By Robert A. Vella
When outside and objective observers look at the United States today, they see a deeply troubled nation fracturing domestically and being marginalized internationally. America is so culturally polarized and politically dysfunctional that it has exposed the country to the ravages of a deadly pandemic and rendered it prone to ridicule from every corner of the world. In a span of less than four years, the U.S. has gone from global superpower to a collapsing heap of social detritus.
How could such a dramatic downfall happen so quickly?
While it is painfully obvious that the election of Donald Trump in 2016 triggered America’s rapid collapse, there were several socioeconomic transformations dating back to the Reagan administration which both facilitated and culminated with the Trump presidency. I’ve detailed these factors repeatedly on this blog since its inception in 2012, but none are more relevant to the nation’s demise than the rise of neoliberalism and globalization over the last four decades. However, there is something even more elemental about the U.S., that has existed long before its founding, which has led it to this moment of crisis – i.e. the fallacy of freedom.
The positive and constructive sense of the word espouses that people should be liberated from tyrannical rule in order to pursue their dreams for a better life. Indeed, most of the early European colonists had fled to America to escape political oppression as well as religious persecution. During that period, democracy and secularism were only wishful ideals. Monarchy was in total control of government and orthodox Christianity dominated the culture. “Freedom” was a euphemism for “rebellion,” and after the Civil War it began to take on a more sinister meaning.
After the flourishing progressive democratic era of 1933 to 1968, in which economic prosperity created a booming middle class and the civil rights movement dealt major setbacks to the institutionalized racism of Jim Crow, white social conservatives and economic libertarians joined hands to take over the Republican Party. With the election of Ronald Regan in 1980, this new political coalition embarked on a determined and systematic mission to reshape American culture. One of the tools they employed was a redefinition of colloquial language and a reinterpretation of constitutional norms. For example, the Second Amendment was promoted as a way to project political power through the brandishing of firearms, and the word freedom was confiscated as a meme to express anti-government sentiment. As a result, Republicans increasingly saw freedom as ideological justification for being unencumbered to do anything they want – including the right to commit egregious acts of greed and bigotry.
This negative and destructive cultural shift eventually reached its pinnacle with the political ascendancy of Donald Trump. Its fatal flaw was only fully realized by the American people when an indefatigable external foe (COVID-19) marched onto the nation’s shores. At the very time when the country needed unity and purpose the most, it was betrayed by a cultural ethos best described as fraudulent and nefarious.
In general, the Republican Party gets between 5 and 10 percent of the Black vote and less than a third of the Hispanic vote nationally. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Clare Malone discusses the series of choices the GOP made, spanning decades, that made it an overwhelmingly white party. At key moments in history, Republicans considered greater outreach to minority voters but ultimately didn’t take that path.
Here’s the news:
A CNN analysis of policies across 18 nations has shown that most of the countries that have now been designated by the European Union as having the epidemic under control only started easing their regulations after seeing sustained drops in daily new cases of Covid-19.
In contrast, three of the four countries with the world’s highest death tolls and case counts — the United States, Brazil and India — have either never properly shut down or started reopening before their case counts begun to drop.
The CDC was denied permission by the White House to brief the public on the coronavirus crisis, a source at the agency told Yahoo News.
The CDC found itself unable to do public briefings for three months, beginning not long after a senior official warned in late February that the virus was likely to hit the US hard.
At the time, this was a sharp contrast with predictions from President Donald Trump, who argued that the coronavirus did not seriously threaten the US.
Between March 9 and June 12 there were no CDC briefings. In that period, Trump increasingly led communications on the virus, spreading false claims and touting unproven cures.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says the Commerce Department is trying to block the findings of an investigation into the agency’s role in rebuking forecasters who contradicted President Donald Trump’s inaccurate claims about the path of Hurricane Dorian last year.
The accusation comes from Peggy Gustafson, the inspector general for the Commerce Department, who wrote a memo expressing “deep concern” that the release of the report was being blocked.
It’s the latest turn in a saga that led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to chastise government forecasters who contradicted the president after he posted inaccurate information about the hurricane’s path across the southern United States.
The death of Jeffrey Epstein in a New York prison cell last summer robbed his accusers of a chance for justice and shut down the tantalizing possibility that the secrets of a sordid life spent among the rich and powerful might be revealed.
Thursday’s arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell — almost exactly a year after Epstein was arrested — suggests a fuller accounting of his acts might yet come.
The charges paint Maxwell as a central figure in Epstein’s criminal enterprise. She spent years at his side. He described her as his “best friend.” She was his girlfriend for a time, though their relationship truly deepened in the years Maxwell was organizing his affairs, an arrangement that included running his households and piloting his helicopter.
And she stood at the very center of the web of wealthy and powerful figures surrounding Epstein. The network she inherited from her billionaire father, the late British publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, gave Epstein access to the highest echelons of society. She even introduced Brooklyn-born Epstein to Britain’s Prince Andrew, whose connection to the pedophile has forced the British royal from public duties.
Epstein’s high-powered network means there’s potential for a public reckoning that could tarnish top figures on Wall Street, in corporate America and in Washington.