America's 220th Birthday

Here in the late 20th Century we are celebrating the 220th anniversary of our nation's birth and the 200th year of our state's existence. Both of those spans of time sound long to us, unthinkably so, and yet in the context of history and the ages to come they are but mere flutters of an eyelash.

I wonder if either the nation or the state will exist 200 years from today. In some way, I doubt it. There seems to be too much division in the world for anything to go on another two centuries, at least not in the way the past two hundred have evolved, with Mankind progressing forever more onward. There are too many factions in the world seeking to bring down the various establishments, trying to topple governments, to take command. Most simply have agendas keyed to their own special interests and no concern for the lot of the people as a whole.

The recent disastrous bombing in Saudi Arabia is but yet another example of how unpopular America is in some places about the globe. We've become unpopular for several reasons, foremost among them being we're the only Superpower left with sufficient resources to attempt to direct the course of history. We are frequently called upon to intervene in the strife of others because of this, or sometimes simply because it's in the national interest for us to risk the lives of our military personnel.

That's undoubtedly the case in Saudi Arabia, with its rich oil reserves. We cannot stand idly by and watch Iran or Iraq or any of the other nations steered by a radical Islamic government capture those reserves. Unfortunately, we're locked into a fossil fuel mentality that forces us to cohabitate with unsavory regimes in order to assure an adequate supply of gasoline; had the money-grubbers not sold away most of the North Slope in Alaska to the Japanese that might not have been such a pressing issue. But they did and now we must depend upon sources in the troubled Middle East for the fuel that makes our economy go around and around.

One can't contemplate the chances of America's future survival as compared to those in the past without considering the differences between our Founding Fathers and the people in charge today. Here the water becomes very muddy, because comparing the arrogant thugs who run our lives today with the courageous men who carved this nation out of a hostile wilderness is like comparing potted meat to Beluga caviar; they are both edible, but one just barely so.

Of course, I suspect had we been on the scene in the mid-18th century we could have found fault with men such as Washington and Jefferson and Adams. I recall reading once where Washington was accused of mishandling funds needed to outfit the Continental Army--I don't recall the amount, but it was piddling in today's terms, although probably quite substantial in those years. And those bent toward moralism, the Jerry Falwells and Ralph Reeds of those times, could have well found fault in Jefferson's dalliances with his slave lady Certainly some of these people had huge egos, as John Hancock's signature on the Declaration of Independence well testifies.

But compared to the pond scum who stride the hallowed halls of the Capital today, these men were saints. The nearest thing we have to a "visionary" today is a Congressman who can see past the next free lunch, the next junket to Cannes or Paris. Our government is rife with department heads like Hazel O'Leary who waste millions of dollars on far-ranging trips, while somewhere in this land children are going to bed at night with empty stomachs and bad dreams. Our Federal law enforcement agencies have come to resemble cowboy roundups, where macho seems to be the only measure of value that applies.

And the snake is foul clear to the head, folks. We've had unworthy presidents in the past, but beginning with Richard Nixon and his fall from grace we've been afflicted with some of the worst people imaginable. Or should I say, we've afflicted ourselves. And our current good buddy in the White House, William Jefferson Clinton, may turn out to be the "King of 'em all, y'all" as Wilson Pickett used to wail.

Well, it's a shame but Clinton fell into the same trap many people fall into when they find themselves suddenly in power and without wealth; they have to hobnob with the "Haves" in an effort to escape the trap of relative poverty. It becomes a "tit-for-tat" thing, because along with the power comes the ability to pull strings to help those who have the bucks and need a way to a desired end.

Finally, the associations become so entwined that the poor powerful begin to absorb at least the arrogance of their wealthy friends, if not some of the cash too. That leads to things like the Travelgate mess, wherein the idea of replacing a bunch of budding bureaucratic with some good Arkansas buddies seemed like an appropriate notion to the First Lady.

I don't know if the Clintons problems will end with someone in jail and frankly at this point I don't care. Having people like Senator D'Amato in charge of raking through the muck of some else's past is sort of like asking a fox to watch your chickens while you are on vacation.

It's not really too difficult to invision what America, and the world, may look like two-hundred years from today. We will all be either mindless little robots marching to the tune of some omnipotent world government computer, or tragically misshapen mutants stumbling about in the wreckage that once was Civilization. What we were in the beginning, or what we are even today, will be but a lost dream in either case, remanded to locked files for the edification of the rulers only in the first case, or blasted to library dust should the latter scenario prevail.

But none of that should matter today for tomorrow is out of our hands. Today we should be thankful for the few remaining freedoms we enjoy, among them the right to voice our dissent and disillusionment. You can be assured that will not always be the case.

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