Nation-building at home

A picture named bugh.jpgAll through the Bush II presidency, political discourse in the US got more and more bizarre. At times, the debate was over who could do the most good for Iraq. Or what the people of Iraq wanted from a US president. Were these people even listening to themselves. It was as if the voters and taxpayers of the United States only cared about one thing — how well are the people of Iraq doing? And of course that was the cruel joke. We weren’t nation-building in Iraq, we were destroying their nation. All based on a shameful lie that somehow Iraq was connected with the 9/11 attacks. There was no evidence of it, and if you listened to the arguments, none was actually presented. It was like the campaign the same people run about whether or not President Obama is an American citizen, which is of course very similar to the idea that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda. They never actually say he wasn’t born here. They just joke about it, repeat what other people say, suggest it in a million different ways.

The same people are still here, and are still running the show. Nowadays they’re working on suppressing the vote in the United States so they can win elections that they aren’t entitled to win, by disenfranchising voters. This should be a felony, they should go to jail for a long time. But they won’t of course. It’s a tactic for dealing with the fact that the demographics of the United States is changing to become less favorable to them. Their answer — the new people won’t vote. Like the birther nonsense, they wll never actually prevent anyone from voting, but by making them jump through more hoops, they reduce the numbers. None of this will happen in NY or California where most of the TV cameras are (and which aren’t swing states anyway) rather in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, etc, where elections are often decided by just a few votes.

Amidst all that, almost forgotten in all the ideas promoted at the excellent Democratic National Convention, was the idea put forward by the President that we do some nation-building at home. This is the kind of idea that can take root with people of both parties. It might be so good that the Republicans will have to say they invented it. And there can be little doubt what “nation building” means. Schools, roads, better Internet access, public transit, hospitals and health clinics, fire departments and police stations, and maybe even god forbid some institutions to inform and inspire the electorate — libraries, museums, parks, bike trails.

I think more than anything we are exhausted, tired of the messes our government has created, the wars we didn’t need, the lies that we never really believed. The broken trust. Naive we were to believe Colin Powell when he went before the United Nations to explain why Iraq was such a threat we had to tear them apart. We’re not so naive any more. Tired, wasted, so depressed we forgot why were are so depressed.

What we need desperately to hear in this election is what you are going to do to help us. Not just by lowering taxes and getting us jobs, but also to inspire us, to give us a sense of purpose. We just spent a few decades meandering all over the map. The last time this country had any idea of what it was doing was the moon mission of the sixties. Before that there was World War II. Everything else has been pretty much bullshit. Expensive and deadly bullshit. Planet-wasting bullshit.

The idea of making America work better, in ways we can see, in ways that make a difference in our lives, that’s the next thing to do. I recently took three auto trips, to Toronto, through the South, and to Madison. In all directions I saw a country that’s falling apart. It’s really gotten bad. It’s opposite to the way it used to be. New York City, when I was young, was falling apart, and the rest of the country was clean and functioned smoothly. Now New York is a marvel of efficiency, a rich city with busy people. But there are huge problems everywhere else. We can’t wait for the mythical trickle-down to not work, again, for another collapse before we turn our attention to fixing things.

Even if jobs returned, the depression won’t end until we start working on making this place work.


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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