Arm Twisted, Mind Closed

In 1988, Allan Bloom wrote The Closing of the American Mind, a book bemoaning the degeneration of the American psyche as liberalism reigned supreme on the political front. He envisioned a conservative America, one in which basic intelligence and innovation would be restored to our heads. Well, what else can we call our present government if not conservative? Republicans head both the House and Senate, and in the White House resides an administration bent on unilateral war and its own brand of neo-colonialism. Even the media has submitted to the likes of Billy O’Reilly and Paul Sullivan. Conservative America? Check. Freedom from a “stifling” liberal cocoon, the imminent rise of American intelligence? Let’s investigate. While our President and his staff gleefully set about instating democracy and freedom on the other side of the world, the state of the home front is sadly tattered. Even after Congress and common sense managed to batter down the original $1.3 trillion dollar tax cut down to a more manageable $350 billion, deficits are still soaring into the next couple decades. At a time when the recession and an unstable economy are on everyone’s minds, Bush still fights tooth and nail for permanent tax cuts and greater military funding. After having poured the dough into homeland security and the “war against terrorism,” a paltry $2.4 billion was initially allocated to rebuilding Iraq. But with the surplus in the negatives, still more money being funneled into oil giants or military support, and the ongoing tax cuts, what is left for the domestic front? One does not need to be an accomplished economist to see that money does not grow on trees, and that the billions set aside for wartime use aren’t going to reappear magically in the Medicaid fund. The administration has waged this war in the name of liberty, and for the sake of protecting Americans, but what state are we in now? Public school budgets are in the worst condition in years, thus sparking nation-wide protests; yet, more money is being leeched away from medical research and federal support programs, and thousands are still losing their jobs every day. Responding to the administration’s urging that citizens invest in private health coverage, a recently passed bill allows federal officials to dictate what drugs Medicare can cover. But these arguments are well worn, facts that any reasonably intelligent person can see. The state of our economy isn’t the result of a twisting labyrinth of government procedures and capitalist necessity. It’s a straightforward case of presidential blundering. So why haven’t we been seeing it? Bush is still an enormously popular war president, whose overall ratings soar, even if people disagree with his handling of the economy. Behind the President’s back, a large percentage of the population is chomping at the bit to topple Islam behind his back, and calls for blind patriotism echo from San Francisco to Atlanta. Despite promises of a righteous war and a better America, hard facts refuse to go unnoticed. The public school system is still in the dumps, and the vaunted voucher program forgotten. The job market is still reeling, and most importantly, the money just isn’t there. Why are we blinded? Why is it that we cannot see blatant facts before our very eyes? What happened to being the creditor instead of the debtor? The New Deal? The Great Society? They are both echoes of an admirable past that might as well be thrown in the dumpster, along with other fallen giants such as social security and global integrity. What is this creeping ignorance that, unseen, seems to have blindsided us? So, where does the American mind stand now that those nasty anti-American liberals are out of the way? Stuck in a quagmire of false promises, trailing deficits and ultimate closure.