Tonight, Donald J. Trump will give the “State of the Uniom” to Congress. That seems a lot more fitting than it should be. To imply we are a UNION is to imply some level of unity. The hellfire that is American civic life has no unity. Our politics are resorting ever increasingly towards tribalism, our institutions failing to act, and the pulpit of our leadership being used to feed propaganda and lies to the public. One might imply Donald J. Trump caused this. I would argue he is the symptom.
Our institutions don’t work. Our Congress is incapable of addressing national issues, unless those issues benefit the wealthy in cash form. Tax cuts and spending cuts happen, but rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, raising wages, and guaranteeing access to health care are expenses that are “out of the question.” Our national debt is used as an excuse to not invest in our people, but is rarely an issue when it comes to paying government contractors and cutting taxes. Meanwhile millions of Americans face deportation after the expiring Dream Act, millions lack health insurance, and millions lack basic housing. Our Congress is broken.
Our courts show more interest in protecting the rights of capital than the people. They hoist freedom of speech protections on corporations and shadow political groups, while not always protecting access to the ballot. Our high court is predictably partisan, and is willing to protect their party any chance they get. Our lower courts are increasingly packed with younger, ideological, incompetent judges who lack experience. Our trial courts can’t be accused of fairness or justice, from a purely statistical view, towards people of color. Our judiciary is not fair or impartial, but increasingly it is broken.
Our press is under assault, from our President, no less. An institution that should be progressive, just by demographics (reporters are largely college educated), practices in false equivalency to give regressive voices “fairness” for lies about things so broad as trade, climate change, and even our justice system. In return for the unfettered ability to spew propaganda, Trump and his allies call actual news reporting “fake news,” and question it’s veracity next to paid mouthpieces like Tomi Lahren. Even under this abuse, even as the demagogue calls their legitimacy into question, they report lies as facts. This didn’t just start, by the way- just look back at the Iraq War.
Our social movements no longer unite us at all, but are used to further divide us. Yes, Civil Rights and the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era divided America, but our divides today are essentially walls between us. As Black Lives Matter rose to question the treatment of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement, they were called anti-cop. As MeToo rose to highlight sexual assault and harassment towards women in our society, questions have risen as to whether or not they are simply seeking revenge against all men. When Occupy Wall Street rose to highlight income inequality, many questioned if they were just anti-capitalist anarchists, intent to destroy American prosperity. American elections can easily be predicted now, based on demographic turnouts. Our ability to discuss our differences have been drowned out by cable news formatting. Gender politics are deepening every passing week. Open racism is more accepted than it has been at any point in my life. The idea of genuine social progress is actually a debatable thing. We seem hopelessly divided.
The haves are doing better than ever, our have nots are doing even worse. Our new tax code was better to those with yachts than those seeking to write off their state and local taxes. The corporate tax cuts were made permanent, the middle class tax cuts phase out. The pay roll tax declines in it’s ability to fund Social Security and Medicare with each passing year since President Reagan signed the current version into law. The minimum wage hasn’t been increased in over a decade, federally. Union membership becomes less common every year. Billionaires can increasingly buy elections through Citizens United. Our President brags of his pace in deregulating our economy. We are sliding towards oligarchy.
And yes, there is our President. He is ignorant on policy matters. He is a racist. He is most certainly a sexist. He is seeking to manipulate our Department of Justice into working for him. He calls entire continents “shitholes.” He equates Nazis with regular protestors. He pays off porn stars for affairs. He golfs instead of working. He attacks reporters on twitter. He wants to build a wall along our southern border. He breaks up American families. He bans religious groups from coming here. He insults entire regions of the world with inflammatory policy decisions. He supports pollution. He is a bad man. I could go on. And on. And on.
I’m not even scratching the surface here. I’m not mentioning Russia invading our democracy, our falling standing in the world, the protectionist scourge driving our economic policy right now, or the multiple wars we remain engaged in. This American carnage threatens our very quality of life, our way of being. It must end, we need leadership now. It is leadership we lack though. Our President, our Congress, our civic way of life is rotten right now.
This American carnage is killing us. The State of our Union is bad. Rotten. Terrible.