American Culture

Choose your own America – ideals, or blood and soil?

What version of America will you choose this November: a tolerant, democratic America that is governed by laws and strives to live up to its ideals, or a bigoted, authoritarian America where the laws don’t apply to everyone and fascist nationalism becomes the new ideal?

I may be dating myself, but I remember reading choose-your-own-adventure books when I was young. You’d read a page or two and then be asked what you wanted the character to do. If you choose option A, you went to Page 45. Option B went to page 48. Sometimes you made it out of the dungeon, other times you got captured or even died.

The 2018 midterms are starting to feel a bit like a nightmare version of a choose-your-own-adventure novel, only this time we’re choosing what we want our country to be. And we’re choosing between two very different, diametrically opposed visions for America.

The first is America as an ideal, ruled by laws that are supposed to be fair and treat everyone equally. An America that, even if it too often falls short of the ideals espoused in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, continues to progress forward toward those ideals.

The second is America as a nation of blood and soil, where our institutions allow unequal treatment not only among people, but that elevates government and corporations over living human beings. An America that defines itself in terms that are white, Christian, and native-born only.

And it’s a stark choice.

Unfortunately, we live in a time where this same choice is being made everywhere around the world. The lived history of the last time this choice was made has almost entirely died away – literally. And since America has forgotten the lessons of World War II, we are now fated to relearn those painful lessons.

It will soon be time to choose –

Between rising above our basest instincts, or wallowing in them.

Between being moral and ethical, and being immoral and unethical.

Between tolerance and hate.

Between pluralism and becoming a Christian-only nation.

Between being open-minded and being prejudiced.

Between unpleasant facts and fantasy.

Between science and wishful thinking.

Between oversight and corruption.

Between the rule of law and autocracy.

Between equality and bigotry.

Between liberty and duress.

Between freedom and authoritarianism.

Between democracy and fascism (or it’s little brother, apartheid)

Between America as an ideal and our nationalism.

Between what is right, and what is easy.

These are the choices, however much we might prefer others.

What choice will you make this November?