Bill Honer is the former host of the California Cable television program .Social Issues.
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One may wish to point to the Executive Branch or Congress for what former President Jimmy Carter calls our currently nonfunctioning democracy, but the ultimate villain is the rugged individualism, anti-intellectualism and racism among generations of the American people.
Sociological studies, such as the work of Geert Hofstede,
reveal that the
Paul Nevins observed that American anti-intellectualism is related to a deep-seated skepticism of "book learning" and education, arguing that the philosophy of John Locke's espousing common sense has played a role in Americans devaluing knowledge. Conservatives often speak harshly of "elites." This anti-intellectualism results in a reluctance to take seriously the role of being a responsible citizen of American democracy.
Racism, whether overt or hidden, continues to plague American Society. Whether one looks at income, health, the criminal justice system or almost any aspect of American life, disparities exist. While I could include statistics to support this point, the truth of this should be evident to any honest observer. Racism is another barrier to unity among the American people.
These characteristics of American society increase
the level of social and political disengagement and make it difficult to find
common ground for solutions to a better quality of life. The French and Spanish experience of millions
of their citizens taking to the streets in peaceful protest over key issues
does not occur in the
Someone asked me what it would take for the
American people to act. My answer was if the government confiscated i Pads or
tablets, people might take their protest to the streets. As liberals, we constitute roughly 17% of the
population, according to the
I am in agreement with the position of Lewis Lapham and Walter Karp who view the permanent government as a secular oligarchy composed of lobbyists, the military, civil-service, large universities, Fortune 500 companies, law firms, and the media that run the country. The provisional government of Congress and the Presidency is where the morality play unfolds for the nation, but the major decisions are made by the permanent government, including who will be vetted as Republican and Democratic presidential candidates to represent the two wings of our one political party. The social and political disengagement of Americans hardly makes the task of the permanent government more difficult.