America is Losing its Spine

Clete Wetli, Contributor

We all see how Trump is chaotically obliterating political institutions and norms; in some cases, he’s motivated by pathological arrogance and, in others, fueled by breathtaking ignorance and unfathomable incompetence. We have succumbed to a delusion of binary team-sport politics where allegiance to party precedes critical thinking and the honest evaluation of facts and context. With the advent of non-stop media catering to our prejudices and technologies allowing us to blithely side-step facts that cause us discomfort, many people would agree that we relinquished our nation’s collective brain quite some time ago. We react to problems and crisis like petulant, impatient children now, instead of as rational adults who are willing to think through all the consequences.

Now, America is losing its spine.

We are refusing to stand up for what we believe or call out the plethora of obvious malignant dysfunctions. We insist with juvenile certainty that America is the greatest country in the whole wide world, while we are clearly losing ground rapidly. Now, I know some of you are bristling at this assessment and reflexively point to your own record of civic involvement and political activism. Indeed, if you have been involved as more than an apathetic spectator in our democracy, then your efforts are celebrated, but you must understand that you are part of an ever-dwindling minority. More Americans have become content to just simply watch and shake their heads in tepid frustration.

In the face of staggering economic injustice as evidenced by the top one-percent amassing close to forty-percent of the nation’s wealth, we simply complain and keep struggling until the next stagnant paycheck. We don’t demand better, we don’t fight back, we don’t do anything that might rock the boat.

As we continue to lay waste to our environment and natural resources, we reject the evidence that is plainly in front of us. We reject it because if we don’t, it would create change and disruption that would interfere with our embedded routines and our addiction to disposable products. We have no spine as we face this growing crisis because the threat is not perceived as an immediate obstacle to our lives.

We blow-hard bicker and bitch, yet most of us do nothing. The issues are complex and understanding them requires research and insight into historical context and evolution. Yeah, who’s got time for that nerdy shit when Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are getting back together?

Our brainless, spineless age is characterized by narcissism. Our smart phones have become nothing more than mirrors into our own self-aggrandizement and confirmation bias. Our democracy is getting destroyed by a man-child who struggles to write coherent tweets and we move through our workaholic days like zombies. Many of our fellow Americans truly believe that signing an online survey means that they have meaningfully participated in our democracy. They think that voting in the presidential election means that they should be honored as patriots. They accept no criticism of their state or country because they’ve been taught that they must defend the team they chose at all costs.

They certainly don’t like to be told that they suck as citizens because they refuse to participate in civic activities or political activism. Remember, the brain went first and now they are giving up their spine. Soon, the heart will go, too, but they may not realize it unless someone informs them with an emoji-laden text.

Look, I know this is cynical, but I think it’s time for truth. It’s time to be angry and to be willing to stand proudly with the minority of my fellow citizens that still have a brain, a spine, and a heart. I will speak out and stand up against Trump because he continues to defile America.

It’s time for America to find its spine again.

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