This is not the country I grew up in...
...nor is it the country I want my kids and grandkids to grow up in.
This country, America, has become ugly, and it's my generation that has made it this way.
With the incredible amount of corruption and deceit that has overtaken the nation, it no longer resembles the great country our forefathers envisioned over 235 years ago.
As we age we remember the good times and suppress the bad. The 'good ole days.' Nostalgic remembrances of happy times of our youth and carefree young adulthood. This phenomenon helps us cope in later years with a world that seems to speed up -- a world that threatens to leave us hopelessly behind.
And the world is definitely racing ahead.
My generation is on the precipice, falling into the nostalgia trap. But we may, this time, be right in our assessment. The 50's and 60's, despite things like air raid sirens, the cold war, and Vietnam, were great. Even the 70's, foregoing leisure suits, disco, and gas lines, held good memories and fun times. Sure, there were protests against the war in Vietnam and the civil rights movement. But both led to a greater good -- as greater understanding. Right?
But in the 80's things began to change.
The country I lived in was free, compassionate, charitable, hard-working, innovative, open, and fair. The one I envisioned in the future was even greater. A young man or woman could aspire to be anything they chose to be. With hard work they could forge a comfortable life for themselves and their family. The American Dream. That dream has all but faded and become increasingly more difficult for many to achieve.
Changes began with Reagan, and though he had some successes, he also set the stage for the erosion of America over the last three decades. The children of those of the 'Greatest Generation,' the baby boomers, are turning out not to be so great. And as we pass into retirement, we are leaving things worse for future generations.
A toxic and polluted world in so many ways!
And I take the blame for that, as should many others from my generation. I should have been more active, more in-tune, more aware of what those around me were doing. I should have seen the ugliness, selfishness, greed, divisiveness, and prejudice in those gaining authority.
Generations of responsibility, hardwork, and patriotism eroded. Honesty is a lost virtue and greed has replaced compassion. We've gone from a selfless society to a selfish one.
It's true that our generation has obtained wealth -- become more affluent. But that affluence has come at a price. Poverty in 2010 has climbed to 42.6 million people -- 15.1% of our population now live below the poverty line. We now have the greatest income disparity since the late 1920's.
Medical advances have been amazing, extending mortality by several years. Yet we have over 45 million citizens without medical coverage. We have the highest cost of health care and the worst infant mortality rate in the industrialized world.
These are just two of our ambiguities -- two of our many failures.
Average, hard-working Americans have been abandoned by their elected officials in favor of the rich, those that finance their reelection -- quid pro quo -- and it's pushing us into class warfare.
We've regressed to voter suppression, the loss of personal freedoms, defunding of social programs, and promoting fear. Turned into a divisive society where Christians are not very christian -- becoming an intolerant lot unworthy of His teachings.
At eighteen I believed our presidents would be more knowledgeable than I: more informed, worldly, intelligent -- schooled in foreign affairs, the economy, and social issues. Congress would be equally qualified.
Far from the case. Americans and, eventually, my children and grandchildren will pay an undeserved price for the inadequate and unqualified individuals we've elected to these higher offices.
These ideologues push us into unnecessary wars, destroy the economy, coddle the rich and ignore the poor, succumb to those that peddle money for influence, lie and cheat to retain their power, and expect us to respect them. Respect? For what? For ruining our country?
No fucking way!
And what do Americans do?
Elect even more unqualified, ill-prepared and, in many cases, flat out crazy tea party candidates.
I can no longer stand idly by and let the destruction of the last decade ruin the opportunities America afforded me and let inept politicians destroy the opportunities for future generations.
No, this is not the America I envisioned those many years ago and it will take a tremendous effort to return America to its previous greatness. By no means do I advocate the return to leisure suits or relish the return to gas lines. But I do want to see a return to civility, honesty, integrity, and freedom.
We cannot allow the vitriol and hatred building in America to infect our children and grandchildren's chance at a healthy, vibrant, exceptional life that a free, fair, and thriving America offers.
I will, with my pen and persistence, fight to bring attention to these growing problems and provide sensible solutions. But I can't do it alone. Together we can make this country great again and restore the American Dream.
A country my children and grandchildren can grow up in and be proud of, where they can aspire to be anything they choose to be.
We have a long long way to go to become the America I envisioned at eighteen!