Tag Archives: American dysfunction

Could This Work?

A couple of weeks ago, a commenter posted a YouTube video from February of 2019, in which actress Jennifer Lawrence introduced viewers to a nonprofit organization called Represent Us.

You really need to click through and watch it, because the summary I’m about to provide is incomplete, and doesn’t do it justice.

The basic premise upon which the organization proposes to function is that mending American democracy must come at the state level–that only when we end corruption in a sufficient number of states will we be able to move the federal government and federal courts in a positive direction.

The video was made in 2019, and I haven’t heard anything about this effort in the intervening years, but according to its website, the organization remains active. It’s harder to tell whether–like so many other efforts to salvage the American Idea–it has failed to energize enough people to get the job done.

I had two competing reactions to that video.

The first was triggered by the imminent victory of the pro-fetal-life movement, which will overturn (explicitly or by eviscerating) Roe v. Wade. That will return the issue to the states, and in a “best-case” scenario, will activate a significant percentage of the 60% of Americans who want Roe retained and send an impressive number of them to their respective statehouses. If that happens–if voters in large-enough numbers are sufficiently enraged and motivated–the state-level reforms identified in the video are much more likely to occur.

That scenario is the optimistic one. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my optimism is at death’s door.

Over the last few months, I’ve had multiple discussions–with my children, with friends, with former colleagues–about the state of American and global governance. Attitudes ranged from deep depression to resigned acceptance, but virtually everyone I’ve talked to believes that–as one person put it– America is over. Democracy has had its day.  Autocrats  and their fearful and tribal supporters are on the ascent worldwide.

Of course, none of this may matter in the end, thanks to our unwillingness to confront climate change when we could have moderated its effects.

It’s hard to argue with this gloomy analysis.

When I look at the collection of deranged and incompetent people serving in Congress, when I think of the millions of people who cast their 2020 vote for a man whose terrifying inadequacies and mental illness were impossible to miss, and the large numbers who still believe in the Big Lie and QAnon…when I think of the state-level lawmakers focused on protecting the “rights” of nutcases with guns but who are unwilling to protect citizens from a pandemic (not to mention the culture warriors willing to die to “own the libs”) …It’s really hard to envision a happy ending.

If any of you can talk me off the edge, I’m listening…..