by Lynn Mandaville
America is a very, very sick nation.
It ought to be on life support, for all the care it’s being given on a federal level, but it’s not even in ICU.
The array of issues we face today seems far worse than at any time I can remember.
When I was just a sprout – a naïve college kid tucked away in the rural hills of Alfred, New York – the worst things we faced were the illegal conflict in Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, and the burgeoning civil and women’s rights movements.
We were socially active, marching for the Equal Rights Amendment and against the war. For voting rights and integration and against Jim Crow and the military-industrial complex.
Nixon resigned in disgrace rather than face an impeachment, encouraged by his own ashamed party, and led by the esteemed Barry Goldwater. We became disenchanted with Washington in general, but we embraced our new President Gerald Ford, knowing he could restore honor to the office and integrity to a Congress dedicated to getting things done for the people.
Now, we are about a year and a half into Joe Biden’s new administration, an administration laden with a tanking economy and low approval ratings.
Even though we don’t have Trump in Washington any more, he still rattles cages around the country, stirring up the MAGAs and the Republicans who have stayed true to the cult that is Trump.
But a pandemic has left behind much worse things than the former president.
The economy has not bounced back from the shutdown. Jobs go unfilled and businesses continue to flounder under reduced hours and employee shortages.
Other issues plague us as liberals and conservatives wreak havoc with their stubborn insistence that Democrats and Republicans are bitter enemies who cannot, under any circumstances, work together for the people who elected all of them.
Among this plethora of issues are: women’s rights to dominion over their own bodies; ownership of guns that wildly surpasses reasonable standards; an economy that was revealed by the pandemic to devalue essential workers and favor the haves over the have-nots; reversal of civil rights for Blacks and brown people; a devolving of civility, or a desire to elevate personal behavior displayed by the most base human urges; a Supreme Court that is more interested in politics than interpretatiing Constitutional law; an acceptance of lying as the coin of the realm.
With so many problems to be dealt with, Washington seems unable to decide, as my Pop used to say, whether to sh*t or get off the pot.
While the people struggle to find infant formula, or a job that pays a living wage, the morons in Congress are so busy obfuscating about January 6th that we can’t get legislation approved to codify Roe v. Wade and secure women’s rights to have control over their corporeal selves.
While the Supreme Court leaks sensitive documents, the former president and his cronies are defying subpoenas while lying about things they have been caught blatantly saying on video.
While parents are frantically trying to figure out how to feed their babies, Joe Biden is failing to unite his own party to pass legislation regarding their own platform. (Which is just a rehash of what Republicans have been doing for the past nearly twenty years with regard to affordable health care for Americans, or tax reform that would actually help the middle class.)
All these things have been preying on my mind for many months now, as I’m sure they have been on yours.
Now, this morning, Sunday, May 15, we are watching unfold the details of yet another mass shooting, this time in Buffalo, NY. And it’s another white boy with an assault-style rifle trying to settle some perceived score against Blacks. A boy who last year, it seems, had planned to shoot up his high school. A boy who has been influenced by White Supremacist web groups, who would drive hundreds of miles to find a neighborhood of mostly Black people he could murder. A boy who last year was ordered to be evaluated in a psychiatric hospital for perceived mental illness. With which he almost certainly is afflicted.
And what will Washington do? They will sit with their thumbs up their butts while sending meaningless thoughts and prayers to the victims’ families.
In the past I have ranted and raved about gun control. But in the months that have passed – though full of a steady stream of mass shootings all over the country – I have come to the conclusion that the problem is so big and so multi-faceted that there is nothing that can be done without starting all over to protect the Second Amendment as it was probably intended, while enacting serious, reasonable control over firearms in this country, like we do with automobiles, driver’s licenses, dog licenses, building permits, OHSA requirements, ADA compliance, and labor laws.
The defense of the Second Amendment has become supercharged with oversimplification of the directive that all people have a God-given right to unlimited access for purchase and ownership of any number of any type of firearm and their ammunition.
It is conveniently forgotten, or omitted, that this allowance was first given in order to allow for militias to operate in a young nation that had no organized, centralized army or navy.
The recent onset of Putin’s war in Ukraine has opened my eyes to an exception to the rule where it might be advantageous for the populace to be armed against a surprise invading force by a neighboring country. It would be nice if individuals were prepared to form a resistance to invaders like Putin’s ragtag army.
However, I doubt that most Americans even know how to use the various and sundry weapons that may be lying around their homes, garages, and barns, much less how to mount a successful contrarian attack against invading hordes.
Instead, we are left with young wannabes like Kyle Rittenhouse (of the Minneapolis protests fame) and Payton Gendron, the young man who killed ten in Buffalo yesterday. Troubled teens who play dress-up in their camouflage outfits carrying all-too deadly automatic rifles as they rail against their supposed domestic enemies. Whites against Blacks, whites against Jews, whites against anybody who they believe are out to replace them in the “natural order” of things in America.
Mental illness is epidemic in America today.
And the inmates are running the asylum, armed to the teeth with unregulated weapons.
Twenty-six dead in Sandy Hook in 2012, sixty dead in Las Vegas in 2017, and how many all told between Columbine, CO, where 13 died in 1999, through the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killings of 17 in 2018 in Parkland, FL, to today, another ten dead in Buffalo?
And Washington sits on its hands, doing nothing, caring not for dead children or their parents, shot down dead doing what people do every day of their lives – going to school, shopping for groceries, attending a concert.
It’s a bloodbath in America.
No other developed nation on planet earth has the degree of death at our own hands than does the United States of America.
With all the ills we face in this country, maybe ending the violence against ourselves would be a smart place to put our efforts, money, time, and honest concern for our nation. Maybe it’s time to forget all the testosterone-laden posing and truly man-up, to throw lots of money at mental health in America, and to regulate in a fair and common-sense manner the firearms we buy and sell with such impunity.
We certainly can’t do any worse than we’re doing right now.