America is not a happy place. All of us are angry about something. We all feel the need to protest, and the litany of topics to protest against is long. When my husband said “we should go to the Capitol to protest this weekend,” I asked him what item we should protest about. I said there was a long list to choose from:
CLIMATE CHANGE: America has an abysmal record in tackling environmental issues. Extreme weather events are occurring on an almost daily basis, whether it be rising temperatures, fires, tornados, hurricanes, or floods. I’m glad we didn’t plan a trip to Yellowstone this summer because a large portion of it will remain closed. Oceans are heating up and deserts are dying. Ghost trees line up and down along the East Coast. Ocean conveyor belts are shutting down, and seas are heating up and acidifying. Marine life gobbles up microplastics like they are candy. Ice sheets are melting and oceans are rising. Soon, all coastal cities will be threatened with flooding and there won’t be enough FEMA or insurance money to go around. America is losing its trees to fires and the world is collectively losing its lungs to Amazon deforestation. Biodiversity is declining across the board, and soon there will be no bugs left for birds to eat. The ozone layer keeps depleting, but our government does little to keep pollution at bay — especially if the power of the EPA will be limited. Topsoil is eroding, bees are dying, and aridification is drying the planet out. Monoculture upsets the natural balance of soils, genetically modified foods are risky, and farm animals are loaded with antibiotics. Worldwide, famines are becoming more frequent and cities are running out of drinking water. Fracking contaminates aquifers and oil spills damage the ecosystem. Air pollution, acid rain, urban sprawl, and overpopulation are just a few modern day problems. Unrecycled plastics overflow waste dumps and we breathe their particulates into our lungs. Cryptocurrency mining uses huge amounts of power, and that power is getting harder and more expensive to create.
WATER CRISIS: The clock is ticking ever faster toward the day when a huge portion of this country will officially run out of water. We pretend that the inevitable will never happen, but doing so fools no one but ourselves. Lake Mead is nearing dead pool status which translates to a massive loss of power. Speaking of power, the country’s largest nuclear plant needs lots of water to keep it running, and that facility is located in a desert. Unfortunately, that same desert allocates much of its water to farms leased to Saudi Arabia. All across the country, rivers are drying up, reservoirs are evaporating, and salt water is contaminating the drinking water supply. Soon, water will be worth more than its weight in gold.
HEALTH CRISIS: America shouts that it has the “best healthcare in the world but it only whispers that most Americans can’t afford it. Insurance costs are astronomical for those that aren’t lucky enough to work for an employer that offers decent rates. Junk food is cheap, portion sizes are huge, and nowhere is walkable— thus Americans are generally obese. The fact that we are in our cars so much means that we are at higher risk for accidents. Fast food is loaded with chemicals and most food that we buy comes in carcinogenic packaging. Almost everything we eat is loaded with fat, salt, sugar, and chemically processed ingredients. The opioid crisis kills those who haven’t killed themselves due to mental health issues. America has given up on stopping COVID-19 from spreading, not that it tried to stop it in the first place. Long COVID remains a non-topic even though plenty of people suffer from it. Vaccines (of all kinds) are a source of contention and Big Pharma is not to be trusted. America is not the best country to grow old in because end-of-life care is not about caring for the elderly but about making institutions lots and lots of money.
HOUSING: Plain and simple, it is becoming unaffordable to live in America. Greed has infiltrated the housing market, and there is hardly anywhere affordable left to live. Slave wages keep Americans poor, yet rents keep increasing at astronomical rates. Corporations outcompete residents in the housing market and Airbnb’s keep many properties empty when they are not being rented by visitors. Mortgage rates are going up but housing prices are not going down. No one builds starter homes anymore for everything is either luxury condos or oversized McMansions. Many communities have high HOA fees, high energy rates, high insurance rates, and high property taxes. Those who are homeless are either ignored or arrested, depending on where they pitch their tent.
ECONOMY: “It’s the economy, stupid” was a phrase coined during the Clinton campaign but I’d say that it has taken on new meaning. I would rephrase it as, “it’s the stupid economy,” for this economy is on the road to tanking. Inflation, price gouging, and shortages are gravely concerning, but so is aging infrastructure, lack of industry, poverty, rising food and gas prices, and wondering whether or not welfare and social security will remain intact into the future. America’s energy future needs to go green if it wants to remain thriving, but even green energy comes at a cost and Americans aren’t buying it. It’s not that Americans are averse to spending money but more because Americans aren’t making much money to spend. The minimum wage remains pathetically low and creating unions remains notoriously difficult. Many live paycheck to paycheck and often within a gig economy that offers no benefits. Retirement is a pipe dream, savings is a myth, and renting will last forever (or for however long people can afford it).
EDUCATION: America’s education system is a joke. Teachers’ pay remains low, schools are underfunded, book banning and censorship are rising, teaching has become more restrictive, parents are interfering to a fault, and bullying goes unpunished. The pandemic kept kids away from school, but that hardly mattered because American kids have been bombing tests for years. Religious schools aren’t taxed, but they now qualify for governmental aid. On top of all this, students and teachers are at high risk of being murdered just for being in a classroom.
GUN VIOLENCE: America stands in a league of its own when it comes to owning guns, especially when guns have more rights than citizens. Seriously. Guns have more rights than females right now. Think about that. A woman’s body is more regulated than a gun. If that doesn’t say that America is broken, I don’t know what does. The gun violence in this country is atrocious, but it has the potential to get even worse. People own guns in the name of self-defense, but many of those guns get used for the wrong reasons.
POLICE: To say that America is a “police state” doesn’t even describe it: we are a “police country.” America has created a system where those in charge of us can not be held accountable for their actions. It is almost next to impossible to charge cops for the crimes they commit against us civilians. Cops can get away with doing anything, and they do. And they can get away with doing nothing, and they do. Americans recently lost recourse for not having their Miranda rights read to them and they recently established a 100-mile radius where they can infringe on our rights without a warrant. The prison system is a big money-making business and more laws are being created to increase everyone’s chances of landing in jail. Life becomes rough once one has a felony attached to it, for spending time in jail does not restore one’s stance as a citizen, but instead stains it. Having a felony takes away one’s right to vote as well as one’s chance to earn a decent wage. Once a felon, one stays as a felon, so a life of crime is practically their only option. One would think that doing the time would absolve the crime, but it doesn’t. The system needs a steady stream of criminals to keep it afloat.
WOMEN’S RIGHTS: Ya, America doesn’t have them. Women are officially second-class citizens now, and they rank somewhere below guns. It makes me want to throw up when I think that HALF of the citizens of this country lack equal rights. A woman’s body is no longer her own, depending on what STATE she lives in. There is a lot wrong with America, but if there is one thing that will finally break it, the anti-abortion law will deal the final blow. Banning abortions is so mind-blowingly senseless that I can barely wrap my head around it. America would rather let a woman die than allow her to make her own decisions. America would rather throw a physician in jail than allow that doctor to perform a life-saving procedure. Not all pregnancies are viable and they can often be incredibly risky. The pro-life argument isn’t about life at all; it’s purely about power and control over women. Also, there is talk about taking away access to contraception, which will also disproportionally affect women’s health. Many females take contraceptives to regulate their otherwise unpredictable and painful cycles. A woman’s body is her own. Period. America has so many problems to concern itself with but it has chosen to ignore them all. Instead, it decided to take away women’s rights as if they were its greatest threat to democracy. I’m calling bullshit.
LGBTQ RIGHTS: Ya, America won’t have those either soon. Allow me to quote Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: “established gay rights should be reconsidered now that the federal right to abortion has been revoked…those rulings were demonstrably erroneous decisions.” I’m calling bullshit on this one, too. It is slowly becoming obvious that the only Americans that will be granted full rights will be male, white, and Christian. Like the old days. In the 1700s. Oh, and here’s a list of the history of violence against LGBTQ people in the United States to peruse at your leisure.
BLM RIGHTS: The fact that you gotta say “Black Lives Matter” means that Black Lives Haven’t Mattered. America has a track record of disenfranchising African Americans. The system is set up against them on purpose. They are what keeps the system going. They are the fuel that feeds the beast. They get the poorest jobs, the poorest pay, the poorest benefits, the poorest cities, the poorest care, the poorest everything. But, enough is enough. They are fighting back. Black Lives Do Matter. They matter very much. And they will keep saying “Black Lives Matter” over and over again until the system finally stops shooting them.
IMMIGRANTS: For a nation founded on immigrants, we sure don’t treat immigrants very well. Do you know who said this quote: “I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.” I’ll tell you who said it: George Washington. The Supreme Court is all about taking this country back to the days of the original Constitution, so I guess that means that we’ll be nice to our immigrants now. Right? Nah. I bet that we’ll continue to keep our immigrants in holding tanks and cages like we have been.
TERRORISM: Terrorists don’t need to come from overseas, for we have plenty of homegrown varieties now. The FBI defines Domestic Terrorism as: Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature. By this definition, I would call the Religious Right a terrorist group, along with White Supremacists. I’d group them along with Russian hackers and angry young men.
POLITICS: The American political system is broken. To say that it’s shattered into a thousand little pieces doesn’t describe it enough, for the system has been pulverized. The problem, of course, starts with the voting system itself. The Electoral College is an antiquated system that makes it so the popular vote doesn’t win. Gerrymandering manipulates the boundaries and restrictive voting laws are making it harder and harder for minorities to vote. America is consistently ruled by older white men who are out of touch with the times, but young people don’t run because they don’t have the money. Only the rich can afford to be politicians, and many of them bribe their way into positions. America’s laws are decided by lobbyists and corporations, so we are a “democracy” in name only. The Supreme Court has been highjacked by Christian zealots, and there is no longer a separation of church and state. Nationalism and Fascism is a slippery slope, and America teeters on top of the slide. The poor are taxed more than the rich, and most of that money goes toward wars we will never win. Politicians say lies on campaign trails simply to get elected, and once elected, they never ask citizens what it is they actually want. Voters are used like rags — we’re useful only to clean up their slime. Also: Theocracy. That’s where we’re heading now.
WEALTH DISPARITY: CEOs and Billionaires prove that late-stage capitalism is here. There is no other way to say it. It would be one thing if they did something good with all their money, but they don’t. Instead, they build rocket ships and blast themselves halfway to the moon.
WAR: Russia is not just Ukraine’s problem. Russia has nukes and they might use them. The fact that Ukraine is not part of NATO means that the world has to sit back and watch them die. Americans are tired of not having a say where our tax dollars go, and most of us are sick that most of it goes towards funding the military. How awesome is it that America left behind $7 billion worth of military equipment in Afghanistan?? I’m pretty sure the Taliban thinks that was a pretty awesome thing for us to do. Americans don’t even pay attention to war. Ask any random American what they think is going on in Myanmar, Ethiopia, or Yemen, and they’ll tell you they have no idea. Oh, and Israel and Palestine are two nations that should live nowhere near each other, just saying.
TEXAS: This state is a category unto itself. Texas is threatening to secede and I’m at the point of saying “let them.” They are making such extreme laws that it makes me not want to be an American anymore. Their influence scares me and it’s making me realize that we are no longer a “United States of America” but a divided one.
SPACE: Unfortunately, space is not the answer. Sorry, but there is no getting off this planet. Besides, even if we try to leave, a chunk of space junk would probably hit our rocket ship and cause loads of damage. Mars is too far away, and we’d all be blind by the time we’d arrive there. So, Earth is where we all need to stay, and we better start figuring out ways to make this planet livable. If not, the DOOMSDAY CLOCK will count down its final 100 seconds before exploding.
CONCLUSION: I want to be positive, but I can’t help to feel negative about America’s future. I want to think that we can vote, petition, and protest our way out of this mess, but I’m beginning to doubt that it’s possible. The Supreme Court bombed this country back to the 1700s, and it will take every state one by one to bring us back into the present century. Of course, state elections matter more now than they ever did, but the truth is that we are on our way toward a Balkanized nation. I want to live in the America I thought I was born into, but that America is sadly gone. Voting our way out of this mess may not be the solution we think it is given the track record of politicians, so dividing the country may be the best answer we are looking for. However, dividing the country only solves 0.001% of our problems. We need to find solutions to every problem that was mentioned, and that list is impossibly too long to tackle. So, maybe collapse is inevitable. It may just be that “America” has finally run its course.