American Individualism is Killing Us

I would like to salute

the ashes of American flags

and all the fallen leaves

filling up shopping bags

Wilco “Ashes of American Flags”

Ask any student I’ve ever taught and you’ll hear references to “the social contract”. I don’t know at what age I became aware of this moral compass that says, “hey, look out for others”, but it’s been a part of my psyche for a LONG time. I’ve always understood it as an implicitly agreed upon set of rules that allow a society to function. You help elders, offer help when you can, say “please” and “thank you” and, when given the choice, work toward the greater good. I used to believe that this was a cultural thing, and American thing. I don’t think that anymore.

I saw this last night and was broken (with all credit to Twitter user hilaryagro). How do we allow this to happen? At what point did we as human beings think this was acceptable? These are fucking children: one letter from this thread came from a little girl asking for a powered wheelchair. Another asked for a bed for her parents because they kept waking up with back pain. Again, I ask: how do we allow this to happen?

When I was a little boy, remember heading to some random building with my grandmother and waiting in a line for her to get some cheese (which later my dad referred to as “government cheese”). I also remember being sent to the local store to pick up a can of hominy and, instead of regular dollars, being given these bills that had a vague brownish tint to them that kinda resembled money but not. Later on, I would learn that they were in fact, food stamps. And absolutely nothing was wrong with that. At all. These were services that everyone in my family had received benefits from. It was normalized and it felt like the government was actually helping out the people who needed it.

Now? We’re so worried at the small chance that someone might receive a benefit that perhaps they shouldn’t that we throw obstructions between ALL people and social services. We are such a broken and disgusting society that the very thought of someone getting a little extra is worthy of gutting fucking ALL OF THE social programs.

Somebody gave me “Arguments for Socialism” by Tony Benn, and I discovered that what I just thought was decency was a political position. You look after people who are less fortunate, and anyone who does otherwise is just fucking ghastly

Johnny Marr

I am absolutely tired of this shit. We’ve privatized our water supplies, our broadband, our roads, our cell phone service and even some of our utilities and it’s demonstrably worse. Who the fuck thinks any of this shit is ok? What is fucking wrong with instituting government programs that will help the disenfranchised and less fortunate AND HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO HELP TIME AFTER TIME? The worst are people who, when talking about the idea of FREE FUCKING COLLEGE, answer with, “well it’s not fair to the people who paid off their student loans…” THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA HAD FREE COLLEGE FOR STUDENTS UP UNTIL THE MID 90S WHEN VOTERS DECIDED THEIR PROPERTY VALUES WERE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE FREE EDUCATION THEY BENEFITED FROM YOU FUCKING ANIMALS! [Ronald “I shit myself” Reagan fought hard to force tuition for students while also gutting education funding, FYI.]

We never have funding for public education, arts and music programs, medicare for all, or any other social services. We literally have people rationing insulin because they can’t afford it. But the minute the military or wall street are running low on cash, we suddenly have a print machine that can pump out the dollars with quickness. What’s the fucking end game here? Once everything is gutted, then what?

I hate the fact that, whenever someone asks Americans to do or act in the service of others, no matter how minuscule the task, our “personal freedoms” take precedent. Just because you wrap minor inconvenience around the flag of freedom doesn’t suddenly make you “free”. It makes you a selfish piece of shit and I’m tired of these assholes acting like giving a shit about other people is tantamount to communism. WE ALREADY HAVE BREAD AND FOOD LINES AND WE ARE THE BASTION OF UNREGULATED CAPITALISM, YOU INEPT, BRAINDEAD FUCKS!

I’m angry. Angry that my country’s motto is “look out for #1 and fuck everyone else”. I am disgusted at the idea that instituting government programs that could benefit a large portion of our disenfranchised is “socialist” and, therefore, evil. But mostly, I’m heartbroken that we have kids in our country who not only are food and home insecure, but are literally writing letters to Santa on behalf of their parents. Because WE failed them. Me. You. All of us. And these kids have to be robbed of a childhood because the only thing “social” about Americans is our ability to shit on everyone else and ourselves.

Reflecting on a broken election and presidency

I am not happy right now. I’m tired. You grow up thinking that the process of vetting candidates and voting, though riddled with smarmy, lecherous assholes, still pushes forth people with at least a facsimile of humanity or dignity in them. You think, “I’m not sure what kind of person willingly signs up for that kind of bullshit” and vote for them anyway because, well, who else is gonna do it?

I was living in Platteville, Wisconsin during the 2016 election. I remember being on the phone with my wife as we watched the results, the slow dread creeping through us across several state lines as we realized what was happening in real time. “What are we gonna do,” my wife kept asking and the only answer rolling through my brain was, “I’ve got fucking NOTHING for us right now.” As I cracked open my fifth beer of the night, I thought back to when I was on my campus visit driving into town and seeing a large cherry picker with a huge fucking Trump-Pence flag flying from it. Grant County, where I was living, went over 50 percent Trump during that election. It felt like a nightmare. [Side note: the next afternoon, I ran into one of my department colleagues who said, “wow, I’m surprised you even showed up today.”]

President McNuggets at his finest

Four years. Four years of this repulsive, lecherous asshole packing his cabinet with the most unctuous, disgusting, slithering, contemptuous blowhards and spineless cowards. For four years this fucking asshole refused to do the bare fucking minimum and say, “hey, maybe racists shouldn’t be racist”; opting instead to say that both literal fucking nazis and protestors wanting not to get murdered by police were basically two sides of the same coin. I…we (my wife and I) could not stomach the idea of four more years of president dipshit sauce, so she mailed her ballot in while I registered and voted day of (because that’s the bare minimum of what our voting process should be like in a supposedly “free” country). And still, we had to wait four more days in order for the election to be called.

I got a text from my dad letting me know that the AP and Fox News called it. I told my wife, who immediately turned on the tv, as if she (and me, to be honest) couldn’t believe it without seeing it firsthand. Sipping on our coffee as we did some light cleaning, my wife sighed and said, “I’m not happy right now.”

And she’s right. This isn’t happiness; this is fatigue from four years of living with racists showing their asses at every opportunity. Four years of seeing a red MAGA hat and walking the other way. Four years of chucklefucks completely bumbling through executive decisions, not to mention completely fucking up a pandemic that has claimed almost 300,000 American lives. My wife was a Warren supporter, while I was and always will be a staunch Bernie-crat. We both want progressive politics and, despite not getting either candidate (and me losing my shit at all of the DNCC fuckery that happened), the alternative to Biden-Harris was too fucking much to bear. I can’t protest vote when there are people literally plotting to kill a US governor. I can’t protest vote when people who look like my family are getting shipped off to Mexico, even if they served in our military, because fuck them. I can’t protest vote when Black people are getting gunned down by police officers for selling cigarettes, sitting in their grandmother’s back yard, or even sleeping in their own god damned apartment.

This is, and always will be, the bare minimum. I want prosperity for people, but I also want more investment in public education, student loan forgiveness, restoring voting rights for felons, medicare for all, a green new deal. All of this shit is possible if we actually hold these motherfuckers accountable for the things we voted for them to do. Get the fuck involved, people. As much as possible. Keep an eye out for progressive candidates. Make donations. Phone bank and send letters: a good time to start is now, seeing as how there’s going to be a fucking SUPER IMPORTANT RUNOFF in Georgia. As Killer Mike said in a speech for Bernie-the time is now.

P.S. Fuck Aaron Sorkin