Belated realization: US is not us

Some people’s intellectual and emotional makeup simply cannot serve as lightening rod for an epiphany. To be recipient of such sudden intuitive realization, something close to a spiritual revelation, you need to be a person of faith at ease with the theological realm; and that, some of us are not.

Two years ago on this celebration of our nation’s independence, the title for my column was, “US is just us… all of us.” Today, not as the result of an epiphany but rumination of raw reality during these two years, I’ve come to the realization that “US is not us.”

The hope-ever-eternal that circulated in me, as if self-renewing plasma that oxygenated and fed a life in search of social justice inside me, has thinned to the point where there are no nutrients left, only waste. And without that hope that made the small-case “us” take on the capital stature of “US,” a slow brutal reality did come home to roost. “US” is definitely not “us,” belonging to the power-elite and its parasitic economic-sycophant class – the Republican Base if you need to ask. We, the “us” left, although a super-majority in numbers, are insignificant and powerless.

This erosional and emotional change of heart has been long in coming, and one not welcomed with open arms. You just don’t turn off the faucet of hope; you let it flow of its own accord until it becomes a trickle, then a drip, and then… nothing; it’s all dry.

For many I am sure, and I include myself in this group, the United States always stood as a safe harbor next to a turbulent sea of social injustice, waving a flag of democracy. Most of us knew the limits and shortcomings of that work-in-progress we referred to as democracy, and were willing to live with an imperfect government, reminding those who constantly challenged our naiveté that our goal was to perfect this defective, unfinished democracy project. And small “us” – demos, we-the-people – held on to the dream.

But it’s high time that we wake up, that we see US in capital letters not as a nation that belongs to us, but the master we are working for. Those capital letters stand exactly for that: Capital… and the supreme and total power that capital buys, steals or captures.

Two years ago I was, in an act of desperation, casting the blame for all our domestic and international ills on us and not on Bush “The Younger”; or Cheney and his gang of neocons; or the industrial-military complex and Rumsfeld’s Pentagon; or the oil barons and other energy moguls; or our Tweedledee and Tweedledum politicians; or religious groups, no matter how powerful or influential. The blame, I wrote, is all ours.

And I did cast the blame on all of us for the lack of rage and indignation to everything which had been going for so long. Allowing the launching of a war of choice without protest; allowing inhumanity to take place (Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo… everywhere) under the Stars and Stripes; accepting a self-censured, self-serving American press.

Two Fourth-of-Julys and a national election have taken place since I wrote that piece, and nothing much has changed in the nation. But I have. I have stopped looking for democracy knowing full well that it isn’t near to be seen, that this isn’t the government of the people, but the government of Capital.

I wrote then, as a warning wrapped in a glimmer of hope, that “America has always been the hoped-for utopia for free people with a heart… but of late we’ve dropped asking questions of our government, of us. If we insist on carrying on with this sheep mentality, and allow the corrosion of our conscience, of our soul, we may turn this land into a dystopia… a nation in self-imposed captivity and certain decline.”

Democracy in America, as imperfect as it has always been, is now a totally lost art. Choices placed before us at the polls are not really choices of the people, but choices of Capital – of those who have the power and wealth in our “free society.” We have allowed democracy to be buried, and it won’t be long before Capital starts asking us to bury what’s left of our liberty and freedoms; except, of course, the freedom to consume.

Americans have always taking the posture that their government as bad and imperfect as it might be; it’s still the best around. A fool’s consolation even if it were true, which is not!

Yes, I am convinced… the US is definitely not us, the people. And on this Fourth, I hope some jingoist knucklehead doesn’t tell me to go and live somewhere else. This is the only place that, for better or for worse, I can call home… and that I can help change.