Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Requiem for the American Dream

The other night, looking for a documentary to watch on Netflix, we came across this one. It sounded like a provocative subject for today, and we watched it. While I have committed myself to staying off divisive partisan politics here, cultural issues are important to me-- and sometimes they stray into partisan territory. In this case, many have seen, including Sanders and Trump, how the country has gotten off kilter. When did it happen and how? Chomsky lays out his case with 10 principles. I could not find the link for it on Netflix, but it's also on Amazon to rent or buy.

The video was put together in 2015 (so it's not about Trump or Clinton but our culture and how we got here where so many American families no longer found themselves hopeful). The book came out this year. [Requiem for the American Dream in paperback]

Noam Chomsky is labeled by some as a socialist (for those who like boxes) but if you listen to his words, he's really a thinker and doesn't automatically follow any party-line-- with plenty of blame to spread around for how we got here. 

After watching the film, I went looking for more and found talks that are more current. He accurately describes how we felt when we voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary and Hillary Clinton in the main election. Not because we favored her but because she was a lesser of evils. She would not have done much to right what Chomsky says has gone wrong. 

While I am not someone who would divide up all the wealth or eliminate all borders, I do think our system has been bought and paid for with both major parties benefiting from it. When some talk about open borders, it's not them who will lose their job or see their wages go down with cheaper labor flowing in. (that might be a little partisan).

Anyway, I think it's worth watching the movie on Netflix and also the links below. I spent over an hour watching them. I especially liked one thing he said-- and I've said it in my rant-- this last campaign did not have issues debated and the media didn't bring them up. Time and again it came down to personalities. I am considering watching Requiem for an American Dream again for how so many lost their chance to live the middle class life and maybe within the discussions find a clue to what we do about it now. Once power is ceded, it's rarely returned. 

And yet, there is a ray of hope. While Trump was big money, he had no big money behind him. Sanders almost took the nomination with no big money. Both had the people, some of the same voters, who believe DC is a swamp and want it drained. [Chomsky on Bernie Sanders]

The oligarchs in the end can pay for advertising but they only get one vote-- despite Citizens United. The people can knock over the apple cart but need to think long and hard what that will mean for them. Chomsky presents some realistic explanations for how it went wrong and what can be done now for those who want a viable middle class-- it's the engine of creativity, production, and a goal the lower economic levels always could reach toward. None of us are likely to get wealthy but we can have a good life, own a home, have some vacations, raise a family-- or at least we used to be able to have those things. The goal now is to figure out how to make it still possible.

One thing I especially like about Chomsky is how he doesn't have one side he defends no matter what. He calls it as he sees it.

Chomsky said, "The most predictable aspect of Trump is unpredictability. I think it’s dangerous, very dangerous." I should add it's what Ranch Boss and I also have said all along about Trump. He's a wild card. It's uncertain what Trump'll do because he's not an ideologue who are more easily put into a box as to possible future actions.

Trump could surprise the right and the left and even (heresy to say this) become a great President that eventually ends with him being attacked by those who wanted a NeoNazi and came to realize he wasn't. He's played a risky game to get to where he is as he needed votes and to get them, some came from a very unstable element in our society. The extremes on the right and the left can be quite dangerous.


joared said...

I came here expecting no political discussion but as you note it does seem all tangled up with our lives. I think what we all might want to consider is, do the positives, if any, in this administration out weigh the negatives? As I mentioned in response to your comment on my blog, I am familiar with Noam Chomsky primarily for his professional linguistics work. He posited a highly accepted theory that language acquisition was innate as opposed to being acquired which was one we studied in the ''70s/early '80s in my communicative disorders program. In recent years more evidence has developed questioning that view.

I do recall in later years he aroused some public controversy with some of his views and writings on matters other than linguistics. I don't recall much specifically about all that as it didn't attract my attention at the time. What little I've read recently I'm not too caught up in many of his views. I've been really pleased Calif. now allows those of us who choose to not belong to any one political party to vote in election primaries if we're registered as Undeclared. I've pretty much always voted independently anyway, though there was a short period when I was young that I actively aligned with one party. I soon became disillusioned with that except for having to declare one in order to vote in a primary election.

Rain Trueax said...

I debated not having this here, but Requiem for the American Dream, the film, haven't read the book) didn't seem partisan but more cultural. Of course, cultural issues do get entangled. I plan to now and again discuss cultural issues here. I've been thinking that some of the government agencies, like EPA and National Endowment to the Arts, should be examined once in awhile as to their purposes. Should the bureaucrats and government leaders be the only ones to decide if an agency serves the purposes of the people?

Chomsky made a point I especially related to -- that the newspapers, who are very biased one way or the other, didn't do much bringing up of issues in this last election. That is disturbing and that they didn't arise much in the debates-- if at all. When they did general answers didn't tell us much about the plans of the candidates (gotta keep their options open dontchaknow). Maybe most people aren't interested in whether the downgrading of the power and even demonization of unions has been part of why wages for the middle class have not risen while CEOs have had exponential increases in their rewards. Growing up in a union house, I saw the value and the drawback of them but they are, to me, more cultural than partisan.

The fact that Chomsky could think outside the box and see the ills of both political systems was encouraging that it can happen. We can vote one way but not be blinded to its flaws.