Not that I remember what America was like in 1957, as I was not yet five years old. Years later, when I was old enough to understand, they told me their story. Briefly, it goes like this.
Dad was born in Romania (Czernowitz in Northern Bulovina), but he identified (haha) as German because, well, his dad was German, his mom was German, they spoke German and kept German customs, and lived in a German community so, applying the “quacking duck” theory, that’s what he was. Mom was born in Yugoslavia (now, Slovenia), but she identified as German for the same reasons as dad did. The Nazi regime would refer to folks such as my parents as “Volksdeutsche” —- being German as a people or race, regardless of citizenship. More on that here.
When dad was about seventeen the Deutsche Wehrmacht (army) made a pit stop in his neck of the woods, and forcibly yanked his ass off the farm, and within a few weeks turned him into a bonafide Mortarman (dudes who launch grenades). He might have destroyed or damaged a Russkie tank or two, but was eventually captured by the Russians, and spent the rest of the war, and some time thereafter, in one of their luxurious prison camps. When mom was a pre-teen the Russian army made a pit stop in her neck of the woods, killed most of her family, but spared her life and put her to work as a slave laborer and sex-toy (cuz she was very pretty), in one of their gulags.
Obviously they both survived this ordeal (otherwise I probably wouldn’t be writing this). However, after the war ended, neither parent was allowed back to their ancestral homes. In order to keep Germans from becoming a “problem” again, Eastern Europe (with approval of all the Western powers) decided to enact a program of ethnic cleansing by expelling as many as 14 million Germans. This German Diaspora comprised the largest migration of any European people in modern history. More here. Many died, estimates range from 500,000 to 2,000,000. My parents survived that as well, obviously.
They arrived as Flüchtlinge (refugees) in an Austrian camp for such people … two Germans as refugees in a German country, how weird is that … found each other, did the nasty posthaste, and produced me, at the time a bastard child mostly unwelcome anywhere. (I’m just glad my dad wasn’t some anonymous Russian soldier!). They gave it their best shot living this way. But, even as late as 1957, there wasn’t enough work in Austria. They felt their future would be better elsewhere. So, they came to America … for work.
You do understand the meaning of that last sentence? It means my parents came to America for a selfish reason, as all immigrants do. Sure, the stated reason for most immigrants may be for economic betterment, to escape political repression, or flee religious persecution, and such. But, the ultimate motivating factor is always for the betterment of one’s self, and/or family. In other words, no immigrant has ever arrived at these shores in order to make America great. On the contrary, they came because they believed America was already great, and a land of opportunity.
This quest for “opportunity” is one of the key distinguishing characteristics of the “old world” immigrants. Not all, but a great many of the current horde invading this country come not because America is great and offers opportunities, but because America has become the Land Of Entitlements — a concept unknown to old world immigrants. In fact, my dad needed a “sponsor” to guarantee that my father would have a job the moment he arrived. No job? No skills? Stay home! And don’t even think of gaining entry if you, or your loved ones, have some kind of disease. There were zero social backstops. No food-stamps. No free medical visits. No free transportation. No free-housing via Section 8, or some other thieving giveaway.
And to be honest, those folks back then wouldn’t accept free shit if you handed it to them on a silver platter. For the first couple months in this country my parents lived in an abandoned apartment building in NYC without even running water. Jack, my dad’s employer, offered to let us live in a spare room in his house until dad could get on his feet. Dad refused, saying he came to this country to work, and not to receive charity. Compare that mentality to the current free-loaders who demand “their rights” the moment they set foot here … for example, people who get social-security (and loads of other freebies) without ever having paid even a thin dime into the system. This is criminal in the sense that it is literally theft from the people who are forced to pay for all this ”free” stuff. These people should be ashamed, but they know no shame. Rather, they will shout you down as a racist and bigot for even suggesting the hideous Biblical concept of ‘he who does not work, shall not eat’. It can be argued that immigrants helped build America, or that immigrants are what made us great. But, that was a long time ago, in a different era, under totally different circumstances. Try to remember this; not all immigrants are equal, or beneficial to this country.
Part of Trump’s plan to make America great again is to build a yuuge wall. That’s a really dumb idea when compared to other alternatives. The best idea is so simple; immediately end all entitlements to people here illegally! I’m fairly certain that act alone will stop the flow almost overnight. Why hasn’t Trump (apparently) not even considered that option? Perhaps because he know that free shit, once given, can never be rescinded? Perhaps because he realizes that those who get free shit are forever beholden to the shit-giver, and therefore they are easily controlled and manipulated …. not to mention a permanent guaranteed voting class? If so, Mr. Trump doesn’t have much chance of making America great again no matter how high he builds his wall.
Or, how about this? A tit-for-tat immigration policy; enact immigration laws identical to that of Mexico.
What is the meaning of “Make America Great Again!” except that it is both an admission of America in decline, and a boast that only Trump can restore us to our former glory?
On the one hand, many (such as myself) find that to be a refreshing change of pace from the braggadocio propaganda we’ve heard for about the past twenty years … culminating with the biggest (and least successful) braggart of them all, Obama, informing us almost daily that America is an “exceptional” nation, the “indispensable” country, the “sole” superpower of Planet Earth, …. nay, the greatest power ever in human history, to which every other nation on earth aspires to imitate.
“Obama has talked more about American exceptionalism than Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush combined: a search on UC Santa Barbara’s exhaustive presidential records library finds that no president from 1981 to today uttered the phrase ‘American exceptionalism’ except Obama.” ——— John Gans Jr., The Atlantic, 2011
“‘American exceptionalism’ is not a traditional part of presidential vocabulary. According to Schlesinger’s search of public records, Obama is the only president in 82 years to use the term.” ———- Robert Schlesinger, U.S. News and World Report
On the other hand, Trump is the first candidate (at least in modern times) to run openly and without apology on a platform of American decline. Let’s take a quick look at how one President talked about America shortly after we arrived here.
Take a look (or, recall, if you have a good memory) at JFK’s speeches. You simply won’t find them littered with exceptionals, indispensables, and other superlatives … as those words simply weren’t part of the political lexicon back then. American wealth and military might were basically a given, and indisputable. Big dogs simply and quietly go about their business. It’s the small and insignificant Chihuahuas of the world who yap endlessly about their superiority.
In his inaugural address JFK reflected the character of old world immigrants when he urged all of us to not ask what this country can do for us, but what can we do for our country. His only use of “great” was to invoke the USA / Soviet Union blocs as “two great and powerful groups of nations”. In another speech he spoke of America as “a great power” — but not “the greatest power.” In that same speech he said; — “we must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent or omniscient … that we are only six percent of the world’s population … that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind … that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity … and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem.” Don’t confuse that “negative” statement with Trump’s assessment of America. JFK’s commentary is one of quiet strength and tremendous wisdom rooted in a deep and abiding confidence of America’s unstated power …. a confidence so unshakeable that there was no need to speak of it.
While Trump speaks openly about America’s decline, Obama and Hillary acknowledge the same sentiment, albeit unknowingly. Decline is evident when one has to say endlessly and openly what once was too obvious to say. In other words, if you have to brag about it, you no longer have it.
For a cultural equivalent, call it the Rambo-ization of America. I absolutely loved “westerns” as a kid. The post WWII movie “heroes” of my youth were folks like John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, Chuck Conners, and then as a teen, Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood. Other than their acting abilities, what was remarkable about them? Well …. nothing, really. They were remarkably ordinary looking, like the guy in your office or next-door neighbor, not overly muscled, not possessing other-worldly fighting skills, and their weapons were basically identical to that of their enemies. But, then came America’s defeat (or, was it a “draw”?) in Vietnam to a bunch of guys dressed in pajamas, with rusty rifles, and living in tunnels. Hollywood helped us cope with our malaise and depression by now giving us outrageousness; outrageous muscles, outrageous weapons, and outrageous killing skills whereby now an Army is no longer needed but, rather, just One Guy defeats the gooks. We like our lies, but we really really love outrageous lies. Eventually, mere humans, no matter how muscled, no longer provided enough titillation to dull our senses. Whereby we once were satisfied that Conan enjoyed crushing his enemies and hearing the lamentations of their women, by 1984 we demanded and cheered a virtually undefeatable cyborg from the future with a German accent uttering amazing philosophical pandering such as, “Fuck you, asshole.” And, what heroes do we have today? Spiderman, Thor, Hulk, Superman, X-Men, Iron Man, Ant Man, Captain America, Batman, ad infinitum. How ironic that in an Age of Science and Technology that we find solace and amusement in heroes who defy all known laws of physics … and, sensible dialogue. It seems that the deeper America sinks into chaos, that the more ridiculously obscene our heroes (and, leaders) become.
[Side Note; Surprisingly (probably to most folks), it is Ronald Reagan who started the ball rolling in terms of being defensive regarding America’s greatness. I do acknowledge that he said this – “Let’s reject the nonsense that America is doomed to decline”. However, Reagan used “again” — long before The Donald did — in his iconic 1984 commercial titled ‘Prouder, Stronger, Better’ where the voiceover says — “It’s morning again in America.” — and later asks, “Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?” — a very Trump-ish admission of America’s decline. Nevertheless, Reagan is hard to pigeonhole as he didn’t lack for superlatives flowing from both sides of his mouth ranging from his “shining city upon a hill” (probably stolen from JFK’s inaugural address) to his unwavering, almost Obama-esque belief in America’s greatness — “ … here in the heartland of America lives the hope of the world … in a world wracked by hatred, economic crisis, and political tension, America remains mankind’s best hope.”.]
When it’s all said and done, remember to tell your grandchildren about The Year 2016. It’s the official year when the USA!USA!USA! went on record as being a Nation In Decline. Thank you, Donald!
The biggest change since our arrival in 1957 is that America has somehow morphed from being a democracy to at best being an oligarchy, at worst, a dictatorship.
Now, some of you are getting ready to educate me on the error of my ways by pointing out that the United States is a republic. Let’s not quibble over semantics. The key question is whether this country is controlled by an elite aristocracy, or the public. In a democracy/republic the government represents the people, while an aristocracy represents itself. An elite aristocracy is a dictatorship no matter how it is flavored; Nazis in Germany, Commies in Soviet Union, Fascists in Italy, or oligarchs in the United States.
— A massive Health bill affecting about 20% of the US economy is passed despite the overwhelming majority of people against it, and none of the legislators actually aware of what the bill contained until after it was passed. Does this sound like a representative democracy, or dictatorship?
— A town in Vermont, and across America, is forced to accept Muslim refugees (and then forced to pay for all their freebies) without the citizens even being allowed to question the town leaders because that would me “messy” and people would come “out of the woodwork” with all kinds of differing opinions. Does this sound like a representative democracy, or dictatorship?
— The Military Commissions Act, signed by Bush in 2006, abandoned the Geneva Convention, legalized the torture of U.S. citizens, suspended all civil rights for prisoners and allows the President to declare virtually anyone to be an “enemy combatant“. Furthermore, it retroactively granted blanket immunity to all U.S. military personnel who have committed war crimes under the Geneva Convention. Furthermore, the immunity would extend to present and future war crimes as well. Furthermore, it utterly nullifies the courts and makes it illegal for the judicial branch of government to interfere with the imprisonment and torture of anyone. In other words, the United States declared itself immune from any international law, and that it will officially harbor and support war criminals. Does this sound like a representative democracy, or dictatorship?
— Obama is pushing for several international trade deals (TTIP, TPP, and/or TISA). Only a handful of people know the full scope of these deals. Most legislators working on these deals are only allowed to see small parts of the deal. What we do know is that these deals will transfer national sovereignty to an international corporate dictatorship. We, the people, aren’t allowed to see any of the details …. until after it is passed. Does this sound like a representative democracy, or dictatorship?
— It is a parade of lies which has led to the death of thousands of young Americans – and tens of thousands physically and psychologically wounded — in Iraq and Afghanistan … not to mention hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dead and wounded citizens throughout the Middle East. According to the Constitution only Congress can declare wars. But, through the use of Executive Orders, the president can unilaterally declare wars at will. Our sons and daughters used as cannon fodder, our debt piling up, an economy in ruins … and there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it. If you dare protest about such things, you will be targeted as a potential terrorist. Does this sound like a representative democracy, or dictatorship?
— The Supreme Court in their 2010 Citizens United decision enabled unlimited secret money — including foreign money — to pour into U.S. political and judicial campaigns. Let’s see if former President Jimmy Carter thinks this is part of representative democracy;
“It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell.”
— This country is ruled by force, not law. Governmental assassinations of US citizens. A highly militarized police with almost unlimited powers to harass, intimidate, and brutalize with impunity. TSA groping whereby in any other setting would be considered sexual harassment. Overseas detention, torture and assassinations carried out against anyone, including American citizens, without due process … and without recourse if later cleared. Warrantless GPS tracking by the FBI. The IRS targeting religious groups. Some people now actually be charged with pre-crimes. Checkpoints up to one hundred miles inland from all our borders (including the two oceans and Gulf of Mexico) in an area stunningly known as a “Constitution Free Zone”. No Ride / No Fly lists which are extrajudicial, secret, and form a guilty-until-proven innocent framework that subverts freedom instead of protecting it. A See Something/Say Something program which goes beyond the already high-tech surveillance apparatus of the NSA and turns each of us into an unpaid employee of the police state similar to what the East German Stasi did to their citizens. Web cameras and surveillance proliferating like a wildfire, data mining, recording all your phone conversations, all your web searches, all your emails, and all without your consent. An FDA, which has near-total food control and usually renders anything healthy as toxic, and all that is toxic as healthy, and does insane shit like jailing folks who buy raw milk. Literally tens of thousands of regulations which literally invade every facet of society, whereby it has been said that almost all of us commit three felonies per day, and every violation of these laws will be met with the full force and fury of the State which promises fines, penalties, forfeiture of properties, or imprisonment. Does any of this even remotely resemble a representative democracy, or does it sound more like a dictatorship?
I’ll stop now, even though I could easily go on for another ten thousand words. Besides, some of you will say this is all anecdotal. Some will attempt to refute each and every point. And others – the especially ignorant – will chime in with a “Well, you have nothing to worry about if you don’t break the laws”. The most retarded of all will opine, “Hey! Shaddup! This is all for our safety and security! And, the children.” OK, you doubters, let’s end this article with some ….. science.
“Testing Theories of American Politics”
A single empirical study titled “Testing Theories of American Politics” was published in 2014 in the journal Perspectives on Politics, issued by the American Political Science Association.
This study investigated answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. The responses were broken down by income level. Then they researched actual enacted policies and whether or not those policies reflected public preferences … or, conversely, whether the relevant corporate-lobbied positions had instead become public policy. Let’s get to the good stuff, their conclusions. None of the below should be a surprise to you. But, at least there’s now some empirical data to validate your hunches.
“In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcome. …………… When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. …………… even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it …………… Our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts …………… , the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy …………… however, the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions (40% of preferences enacted) ) than the views of middle-income and poor Americans (18% of preferences enacted) …………… [when] policy making is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”
Let me summarize all that for you, and please excuse my profanity; —- your elected representatives don’t give a rat’s ass shit about you and what you want for this country (except at election time). So, stop kidding yourselves by thinking your vote matters.
This is NOT an article about the pros and cons of Donald Trump. Nevertheless, the question must be asked; “what changes if Trump becomes President?” Near as I can tell Trump’s platform is as follows; 1) all our politicians are stupid, but he’s not, 2) nobody knows how to make good deals, but he does, 3) he’s gonna build a yuuge wall, 4) he’s going to create jobs, somehow, 5) we’re gonna have the biggest badass military in the world (isn’t that the case already?), 6) cops are just gr-r-r-reat, and he’s going to take care of them, believe you me. Did I miss anything?
(BTW, I have even less hopes for the Democrat side of the same coin. Hillary will clearly continue with the status quo … except, as an added bonus, she might start a nuke war with Russia. And Bernie’s socialism will most clearly add to our many undemocratic woes.)
This article is about the huge issues facing Amerika, and our decline into a dictatorship. What will The Donald do about the issues I raised above, and the ten thousand words I didn’t include? Is he even aware of the issues? Will he bring back the America of my youth? Can he change the regret my aged parents (and, myself) have for coming to this country, and can he restore hope to the weary? I think I know the answers. Except for a few changes (maybe) … it’ll just be more of the same. No one man, at this point in American history, can stop the Coming Shitstorm headed our way. Trust me, it won’t be long before you hear these words from your local servant in blue — “Ihre Papiere bitte” — and the hellish circle will be complete.
“Hoffnung”, the German word for ‘hope’, is my dad’s favorite word because it has carried him through many tribulations. I might insist on having “He never lost hope” engraved on his gravestone. Hope sustained him when the Nazis ripped him from his home. Hope lifted his spirits as a prisoner of war. Hope kept him alive when the Russians released him to the British, and he worked in a coal mine under terrible conditions near Scotland for a few years to pay off his “debt”. Hope kept him from falling apart when mom fell down the stairs not so long ago. Hope kept him from depression when he crashed his beloved classic Mercedes last year. Hope is what brought him and his family to America for a better life. I just wonder if he would have left Austria if he knew that 57 years later his very own son would have no hope whatsoever for the America he was about to call home. So sorry, that’s just the way I feel right now, and for the past six months or so. Hoffnung ist tot.