The "CAN’T DO" Nation? ~ nannymm


I just read an op-ed by Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post. In it, Mr. Meyerson wonders whether we have become a nation that is unable to meet its challenges:

Watching the centrist Democrats in Congress create more and more reasons why health care can’t be fixed, I’ve been struck by a disquieting thought: Suppose our collective lack of response to Hurricane Katrina wasn’t exceptional but, rather, the new normal in America. Suppose we can no longer address the major challenges confronting the nation. Suppose America is now the world’s leading can’t-do country.

I’ve wondered the same thing lately.  Why is it that we are the only industrial nation that can’t provide universal healthcare?  What is our excuse for failing to lead on climate change? Don’t we realize that if we don’t get out front on alternative energy production someone else will, leaving us to play catch up or worse? When are we going to get serious about improving our educational system, especially in the areas of math and science?  Are we ever going to understand that we are not the center of the universe and that the rest of the world does not exist primarily to cater to us?  The list goes on and on….

Sometimes I think we care more about proclaiming ourselves "the greatest country on earth" than in truly achieving greatness. Let’s be clear. A country that has so many under-educated citizens can not achieve its potential, nevermind true greatness. A country that refuses to provide for its less fortunate, isn’t great; it’s thoughtless, cruel,  and selfish. A country that refuses to lead will eventually have to follow. And a country that hides its head in the sand will someday smother itself. 

Maybe it’s time that we have a national conversation about who we Americans really are and what we truly want to achieve in this world and how we’re going to do so.  Maybe it’s time for some honesty. Harold Meyerson is on to something, I fear.




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11 responses to “The "CAN’T DO" Nation? ~ nannymm

  1. nannymm

    Good morning. The Morning Joe gang is having quite a discussion about race this morning. This stems from the Cambridge incident that led to a white cop, Sgt. Crowley, arresting renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his home Mika seems to be stuck on the issue of “is it fair that the white cop is being painted as a racist?” She doesn’t seem as interested in the question of whether it is fair that this prominent black man was arrested when he had committed no crime; neither does she ask the larger question of whether it is fair that this type of thing happens far too often to black men. I find that disturbing.

  2. Good morning peeps. Nanny I love these piece, spot on.

  3. eProf2

    Greetings from the desert:

    Spot on, Nanny! You must have had chocolate cake for your birthday — LOL!

    Sometime after 1960 we took a wrong turn as a nation when we got it in our heads that only the US could challenge the Soviet Union as a ideological foe. In doing so, we threw the military-industrial balance completely out of whack insisting that all problems faced were military problems: Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Israel, all the way to Granada and back again with US troops in more than 60 countries today and the defense bill greater than all the nations combined. (Look that one up — it’s true.) We can’t be all things to all the world and lesser things to ourselves in the name of security.

    As to the Congress and passing progressive legislation, it’s becoming very clear that we have a three party (or in Madison’s terms, three factions)nation incapable of moving forward and really stuck in the status quo and guided by the powerful interests of K street and Wall street not the interests of Main street.

    A national conversation would be great but, I think, futile as it would quickly devolve into a shouting match (watch the birthers overwhelm the elected official earlier this week).

    I’m leaning toward the Naissbitt megatrend of smaller political units not bigger ones in the future.

    Yes, my computer is fixed — for a little while, at least. Have a great day everyone.

  4. eProf don’t let Reagan off the hook on this score. So much of what is going on here is the a leftover of the Reagan mantra of govt. can’t be trusted to do anything, except make war and throw people in jail of course.

  5. nannymm

    Thanks, Brian and eprof2. I’m appalled when I think of where we are as a nation and terrified when I imagine where we’re headed. I think our parents and grandparents must be rolling over in their graves.
    I fear that you may be right, eprof, about the utility of a national conversation. Too many on all sides seem to want nothing more than to scream at and over each other. This has got to change. I think we need to keep that in mind in our daily lives and here on this blog. We can disagree without being disagreeable. We can engage in discourse without name calling, rudeness, and sarcasm.
    One of my favorite songs is “The Song of St. Francis.” It begins with this line:
    “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.” I like it because it can translate to nearly every aspect of life. If we all treated each other in a peaceful and respectful manner, we’d all learn more. Maybe we’d even solve more of our problems.

  6. Orin Hatch to vote against Sotomayor.

  7. dnd

    Interesting cultural/sociological post Nannymm. Not my field of expertise, other than to note that no civilization lasts forever, and there are traits in common with downfalls.

  8. dnd

    As to Crowley/Gates-gate, I don’t think it’s about race. I think it’s a case of two cranky guys who were both having a bad day. One guy behaves inappropriately which prompts the other guy to respond in kind and the situation quickly spins out of control. It’s a guy thing.

    Race makes it titillating for the press, but melanin is not at issue, testosterone is.

  9. Breaking News Alert
    The New York Times
    Friday, July 24, 2009 — 9:35 PM ET

    Bush Administration Debated Using Military in Terrorism Arrests

    Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the
    Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of
    Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with
    Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.

    Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including
    Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the
    power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the
    terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna
    Six, and declare them enemy combatants. Mr. Bush ultimately
    decided against the proposal to use military force.

  10. dog's eye view

    Really good topic and column, Nanny. Well stated.

    Ironic, given the moon landing’s 40th anniversary this week.

    We could never shoot for the moon in this climate. I am sure we got progress on a lot of unexpected fronts from the R&D that went into that great effort.

    Providing healthcare access to all citizens of the world’s richest major country just should not be such an issue. It is doable, should be done, and is late in coming.

    I do love the US of A. Which makes it doubly sad to see the small-mindedness and cynicism that prevails.

    Shake up the status quo and the provincialism and negativity. They are literally killing some of us.

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