Tuesday, December 31, 2013

‘Merica: Down But Not Out

There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizens cannot cure.” -President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Like too many times before, the United States finds itself at a crossroads as the calendar turns another year older. Politicians adjourn for the holidays to their lordly manors, plush vacations and taxpayer-funded benefits, patting themselves on their backsides for their “hard work” and “problem solving,” while average Americans strive to maintain their hard work hindered by the political bureaucracy that allegedly will solve the country’s ills. In the meantime, industry, manufacturing and overall entrepreneurial ingenuity is stifled under the counterweights of over-regulation and increased tax burdens in conjunction with fair-trade equalization and relaxed restrictions for global competitors. Illegal immigrants invade the country with temerity and practically given the proverbial golden goose by the government, while legal, and law-abiding, citizens are forced to comply with inane laws and mandates or face consequences from that very same entity. Billions of dollars are spent on national security and preventive measures, only to be astounded in wonderment at breaches that easily could have been prevented if not drowning in the useless, unnecessary and non-essential. An underpaid, and at times disrespected, military stands watch defending and protecting against enemies that are cajoled and bargained with – while longstanding allies are thrown to the wolves – rather than dealt a crushing and ultimate defeat.

Such examples betray domestic and foreign policy as nothing short of schizophrenic and fly-by-night based on the whims of both the elected and unelected autocrats in Washington. Hyperbole aside, it is an odiously scandalous and exceedingly intolerable situation that must have certain recourse if not abject consequences.

Yet, we can look to the past to see that the U.S.A. has been down before, but it has never been out. The War of 1812 (1812-15) would have seen the fledgling nation as a footnote to history, a short-lived experiment of republicanism. Then came the greatest schism the country has faced so far:  the American Civil War (1861-1865), a conflict that strained the ties of union and re-forged them stronger in blood. The death of two serving presidents, William Harrison and Franklin Roosevelt, assassinations of four – Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John Kennedy – and resignation of another, Richard Nixon, have tested the principles and resoluteness of our democracy to maintain stability and continuity. During the 1930s, the Great Depression witnessed the country on the verge of political and socio-economic upheaval that would have rivaled any revolution before it. Even when the road of desperation seemed neverending, hope – measurable hope, not rhetorical drivel – has always existed.

No more was this evident than in 1980, marked as another crossroads in the annals of American history; specifically, the “Miracle on Ice” hockey game versus the Soviet Union. A true hero is one who is humble about the impact of their contribution, and/or one who may never know that their ultimate sacrifice meant something greater. They stand on the cusp of history, without much concern over its contemplation at the time. Their belief in the cause sustains them, without knowing whether the outcome will be in their favor. The country, and the world in general, had faced a terrible recession throughout the 1970s. Had the U.S.A. lost that game, beleaguered Americans simply would have chalked it up to a bunch of amateur college kids losing to a dominant Soviet team…and continued to slump along in their lives. Instead, it awakened yet again a restless spirit that was down but not out. To quote General George S. Patton, “Anyone in any walk of life who is content with mediocrity is untrue to himself and to American tradition."

Have we lost the edge though, are we too far down the rabbit hole this time? If history is any lesson for the future, American patience may always be tested but the resolve in the face of adversity and apparent doom never should be questioned in the years yet to come.

©2013 Steve Sagarra