For many of its citizens, America does not really deliver on its promises and potential for opportunities. For over 40 years, I have witnessed the public being told almost daily that everything this country offers and produces is the best and greatest in the world. This indoctrination, combined with blind patriotism, can create a false sense of superiority and security, and it can certainly foster complacency. Why question what is so obviously exceptional?
Compared with other nations, America’s quality-of-life standards in health care, child care, education, worker’s rights, environmental policies and sensible gun control do not fare well when assessed by relevant global parameters. Still, so many Americans believe their country ranks highest in the world because they either do not know these facts or they are not as negatively affected as so many of their fellow citizens are, and so they might not care. For now, at least, America has kept its standing in the world as the beacon of democracy, but will even that continue to be a reality? Many of its democratic principles are under assault more than ever. Especially, and most aggressively, voting rights and women’s rights.
America has a strong foundation and certainly has the potential to be a great country. If that sounds like I am a MAGA supporter – far from it. MAGA is a smart, albeit empty, slogan because it arouses your patriotic feelings and brings you a sense of appeasement, which is exactly what its intention is. But, sadly, the MAGA rallying crowds will be the ones to whom the least benefits will go if this movement wins. Instead, its system/policies will guarantee that the rich will accumulate more wealth, and more power and profits will go to corporations and certain politicians. They all will have a reserved seat at the “dinner table” and enjoy a feast, and, if lucky, the rest of us will get thrown a few crumbs.
Charles de Gaulle, former president of France, once said, “Politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.” Although we may be frustrated and/or angry because of challenges we deal with on a daily basis, many caused by social constructs or by global crises outside of our control, we have to remain interested in political affairs and their societal consequences. This is neither the time nor the place to be complacent nor to “tune out,” as Susan Chichetto recently noted (“Americans can’t wish away pertinent issues,” April 29), but to place the advancement of what benefits society over individual desires.
An engaged, well-informed electorate is absolutely vital for the survival of a functioning democracy that benefits all of its citizens. Every voter’s participation is required to safeguard American democratic principles and in the struggle to improve quality-of-life issues that affect the majority of us. To defeat the harms of destructive lies, conspiracy theories, hypocrisy, greed and elitism, our support of candidates for office who respect the truth, facts, decency, fairness and social justice is essential (“Local candidates’ political ties most important,” John Mishler, June 7, 2021).
Just waving the American flag is too little of an effort to show the love of one’s country. Exercising your civic duty by voting is (“Mainewhile: Mainers shouldn’t take voter rights for granted,” Heather D. Martin, May 6).
Sigrid R.E. Fischer-Mishler is a retired medical and radiological technologist, living in Harpswell with her husband.