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Work hard and play by the rules and you will achieve the American Dream.  This booster phrase is what makes America unique.

Unique’ or ‘exceptional’ implies better.

Yet people in the developed world who have not been raised on that mantra by and large lead more satisfying lives. The much maligned European community has low cost health care for all, low cost universities and vacations that Americans can hardly believe (around six weeks, usually taken partly in summer and partly in winter, keeping the ski slopes busy).  Our politicians call them lazy, and by the way they have to be cajoled into helping us fight our wars.

How to explain this?  Well, ever since the French guillotined King Louis XVI and his queen who assumed ‘the people’ lacking bread could just as well eat cake, and even though The Revolution turned into The Terror, and Napoleon briefly conquered Europe, NO COUNTRY EXCEPT HITLER’S and his short-lived Quislings has effectively banned egalitarian politics. Only the United States does so. No European country today is led by Communists, but all are alternately led by right and left-wing coalition governments. The current crisis of the Euro zone, like that of Iceland a few years ago, is largely due to European bankers buying into  America’s cowboy capitalism.
At the beginning of the financial crisis, in 2008, pundits often reminded us that Roosevelt had told his supporters to ‘make him’ enact social policies.  They wonder why Obama cannot do the same. They never mention the fact that in the nineteen thirties, the United States had a vibrant progressive movement, a legal socialist party with 40,000 members, and a Communist Party which in 1919 had 60,000 members.  In the late thirties, this militant, organized left WAS able to ‘make’ Roosevelt enact vital reforms, before being decimated by McCarthyism.

Who is going to do that now?

Socially aware political leaders in the United States use their energy to dance around two forbidden words, like moths attracted to light but wary of being burned: socialism and fascism.  They can neither warn of a Tea Party led slide into fascism, nor suggest that we emulate our allies and build a coherent welfare state (not one that distributes welfare to the corporations and the rich).

Our self-inflicted censure has created an American Nightmare.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent diary. It explains exactly the reason (6+ / 0-)

    we are losing our the country to a criminal gang of exploiters.... Any sliver of progress we've been able to achieved was due to head-on struggles by militant progressive movements.  Something sorely missing today.

  •  A couple of things (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, isabelle hayes, CoyoteMarti

    In my humble opinion, the belief in American exceptionalism can be said to stem from two major events.

    1. We are a self-created nation that designed its government on purpose, from scratch, having tamed a wilderness and won a war for independence. How many other countries have invented themselves out of a stubborn will to exist?

    2. Jumping forward 150 years, we liberated Europe and then provided funds and support to rebuild after WWII. We were the good guys then, marching in and setting people free. We gave devastated countries new life and set an example for decency when our GIs were welcomed.

    There is much exception to be taken to all of this, but it was exceptional. Then our pride wenteth before a fall, and we're falling pretty fast.

    Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

    by JG in MD on Mon Aug 15, 2011 at 02:09:57 PM PDT

  •  Something I think needs remembering.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD, jan4insight, Kimball Cross

    FDR didn't enact SS as we know it. A mere 60% of the workforce could get it when they retired. Dependent, disabled? Sorry.

    Hell, check out the Economy Act.

    Yes, FDR did alot, and yes, there was a highly organized Liberal group. But it wasn't rainbows farted out.

    "The curve of the universe is long, but bends towards justice'.

    by SirNitram on Mon Aug 15, 2011 at 02:10:13 PM PDT

  •  Even though I tend to disagree on the prescription (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, Dirtandiron, Kimball Cross

    I will absolutely compliment you on getting the diagnosis spot on.

    Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

    by zonk on Mon Aug 15, 2011 at 02:16:05 PM PDT

  •  Yes we need a militant left. But it needs to.... (5+ / 0-)

    .... be very careful about how it goes about this, otherwise it will shoot itself and America in the foot.

    For example it can make plenty of noise about e.g. primarying Obama.  But comes the general election, it has to turn out in force to support him and the whole "more and better Democrats" paradigm, to GOTV for a Democratic House and Senate as well as the White House.

    Then it has to apply major torque to the President and both houses of Congress to enact a progressive agenda.

    Sitting out elections only ensures that our enemies get elected and we take a giant step backward.  

    •  I'm not sure (0+ / 0-)

      we should re-elect Obama.  We may need to experience fascism in order to understand the socialism is not a dirty word.

      Otherjones. Insights and Ironies.

      by Deena Stryker on Mon Aug 15, 2011 at 06:50:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's bullshit and you know it. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes, Liberaltarian

        We already had eight years of catastrophe under Bush Junior, starting with an American military aircraft getting shot down by China and the crew held for a period of time, then 9/11, then torture as policy and unlimited surveillance, then eight years of two wars while Bin Laden gave us the finger, then Katrina, and last but not least, econo-crash.

        Obama inherited the aftermath and has been trying to clean it up despite the best efforts of Republicans to shit all over him.


        Whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, you're aiding and abetting the enemy.


        May you track dog shit into your house and get it all over your floors and rugs.  And while you're cleaning it up, imagine more dogs shitting where you just cleaned, and then getting evicted or foreclosed because you're not cleaning fast enough.  Then come back here and try telling us Obama didn't do enough and didn't do it fast enough.

      •  I'm not willing to sacrifice a generation of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Americans just to make a political point. This mistake has been made before.

        The German Communist Party welcomed Hitler's accession to power. They were sure his reign would be brief, and educational for the masses.

        For relevant sci-fi and fantasy, go to

        by Kimball Cross on Tue Aug 16, 2011 at 01:35:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well, then let's stop demonizing. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zett, congenitalefty, Kimball Cross

    There are some traits to being a militant leftist: Hard assed, throw your chest out and shoulders back, not shy from a fight, stiff spine, raised fist, glint in the eye, won't back down, stand up for yourself, willing to fight.

    The problem with today's Dem party is that those traits have been made into negatives, like this:

    Don't be a hard ass, it's never okay to be an unyielding ideologue.

    Don't throw your chest out and shoulders back like a soldier, this is civilized society - not a war.

    It's never okay to fight, even if the other guy threw the first punch, it's always more mature to walk away.

    Don't have such a stiff spine, you have to allow for compromise with others, bend a little.

    Don't raise your fist, that's a sign of primitive anger and you aren't picking fleas from other apes in the trees, grow up.

    That glint looks threatening, so of course they are going to kick you out of the meetings! They are afraid of you and your confrontational manner, it's all your fault you dumb dirty ape.

    Hey, back down now and then. Don't you know the perfect is the enemy of the good? If you don't back down, all will be lost and it will be your fault.

    The most civil thing to do in the case of bullies is to go get help. Standing up for yourself is just dropping yourself to their level of violence, be the bigger person. Even if you get a bloody lip and they get nothing. You'll be happier someday for learning that fighting is not the answer.
    I think the jury is in. Walking away from the bully allows the bully to think that Taking is a legit way of acquiring what they want, that they won't get vigorous opposition to their actions, that others will just keep rolling over and bleating. The bullies have grown up, and their tastes have grown from wanting our lunch money and candy bars to wanting our social security trust fund and grocery budget.

    It took getting taken right to the edge of wage slavery before the people of wisconsin grew enough sac to stand up, and all that really happened in factual results is a temporary halt to the process of being thrown over the edge.

    The people of michigan have been suffering under a system where elected officials have been stripped of municipal powers by a person appointed to supreme power over them. Benton harbor ring a bell? This is so close to the same sort of process as a king appointing a person as Local Manor Lord over a village that it's insane in a democracy - yet the people of michigan are giving all the resistance of a confused kitten... Sure those claws are sharp but there is no strength to the paw nor is there dexterity enough to provide for a palpable scratch.

    The people of the Dem party have stripped their assembled ranks of the fighters.

    Tell you what, it takes a certain mindset to be able to firmly declare "This far and NO MORE. Beyond this line means capital-T-Trouble, and I'm not afraid". The fighters are still out there, some of them... The dems/Dems with the guts to put it on the line for others. It's up to you to figure out how to find them.

    "I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool." - Republican Congressman Allen West (FL-22) Rawstory Source

    by JayFromPA on Mon Aug 15, 2011 at 02:57:17 PM PDT

  •  putting your finger on the sore spot all right (4+ / 0-)

    why are the workers in the usa willing to vote for repubs who make it no secret that they are the party of the rich?

    someone suggested in another diary that the american mantra is --work hard enough and you can be rich too

    even though anybody whose brain is functioning knows this isn't true, almost 50% of the electorate voted for mc cain/palin

    that had to include a lot of working people...

    right about now, i'll bet many of them would like a social safety net, and it ought to be easy to see that nothing like that will be done if they continue to elect repubs

    on the other hand, it's the dems that need to show up at the polls, that's all it would take, really

    all this bs since 2010 wouldn't have happened without the big loss in the congress

    and i'm hearing too many "liberals" talk about not being able to support pbo any more; that'll get them what they want NOT

    we have to gotv like crazy

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