FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

America Has Lost Its Common Sense

With the government still partially shut down, partisan politics is generating more heat than light.

President Donald Trump, in his unique blustery style, believes he can slander the Democratic leaders that he must negotiate with, burlesque their position and demand capitulation in return for simply allowing the government to run. When the Democratic-led House recently passed legislation that was approved by the Republican Senate in December to fund the government, Republican senators refuse even to put it on the floor.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delights in tweaking Donald Trump, suggesting that he should postpone his State of the Union address until the government is up and running. Trump retaliates by postponing Pelosi’s trip to see the troops in Afghanistan and leaking the schedule, violating basic security.

Lost in all this is common sense. And looking at where we are as a country suggests that common sense is now perilously absent.

The United States has the largest military budget by far, larger than Russia and China combined. Yet we are adding money to a Pentagon budget already bigger than it was in comparable dollars at the height of the Cold War. That doesn’t make sense.

The U.S. has the most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world. We have weapons that could literally destroy the world, unleashing a deadly nuclear winter. Yet President Barack Obama and now Trump committed to spending over a trillion dollars on another generation of nuclear weapons. That doesn’t make sense.

The U.S. has “locations” — bases — in over 160 countries. We are literally trying to police the world. That doesn’t make sense.

The U.S. suffers obscene and debilitating inequality. The three richest billionaires have as much wealth as half of all Americans combined. Yet the Republican Congress just passed a tax bill that will end up giving more than three-quarters of its benefits to the richest 1 percent. That doesn’t make sense

Virtually everyone agrees that education is essential if we are to rebuild a broad and vibrant middle class. Yet teachers are on strike across the country because cuts in education funding have left them with crowded classrooms, supply shortages and inadequate salaries. College debts that students are forced to assume now are higher than any other form of personal debt — including auto loans and credit card debt. That doesn’t make sense.

We spend nearly twice per capita on health care than any other advanced industrial country and yet have worse health care results. For the first time, life expectancy is declining, something that simply does not happen to advanced countries. Despite health care reform, 20 million people still go without insurance and tens of millions more are underinsured. Taxpayers pay for a good portion of all research on prescription drugs, yet we pay the highest prices in the world for our prescription drugs. That doesn’t make sense.

Trump demands $5.6 billion as a down payment for the wall he wants to build along the Mexican border, a wall that he promised Mexicans would pay for. He says it will stem the flow of drugs, but most of the drug trade comes already through legal ports of entry. He says we have a crisis on the border, but in fact undocumented immigration has been declining for years. So, even Republican legislators from the Texas border argue that Trump isn’t making sense.

This list can go on. Dr. Martin Luther King said he couldn’t follow the old “eye-for-an-eye philosophy” because “it ends up leaving everyone blind. He told the story of driving from Atlanta with his brother at night. For some reason the other drivers didn’t dim their high beams. Exasperated, his brother said, “I’m tired of this. The next car that comes refusing to dim its lights, I’m going to refuse to dim mine.”

“Don’t do that,” said Dr. King, “somebody has to have some sense on this highway.”

As a country, we are moving along a winding road toward freedom. There are curves and hills, potholes and perils. We are constantly tempted to retaliate against those who get in the way.

We get distracted by those who would divide us, those who foster fear and hate. We are constantly in danger of losing our bearings. But we’ve got to remember Dr. King’s admonition to his supporters in Birmingham, Ala., after the 1963 Ku Klux Klan terrorist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four innocent little girls.

“Wait a minute, Birmingham,” he taught. “Somebody’s got to have some sense in Birmingham.”

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

August 06, 2020
H. Bruce Franklin
How the Fascists Won World War II
Robert Jacobs – Ran Zwigenberg
The American Narrative of Hiroshima is a Statue that Must be Toppled
Howie Hawkins - Madelyn Hoffman
Reverse the New Nuclear Arms Race
Brian Kelly
Ireland and Slavery: Debating the ‘Irish Slaves Myth’
Talli Nauman
Native Americans Win Historic Victories in U.S. High Court Rulings
David Mattson
“Man Attacks Grizzly” and Other Leading Bleeding Stories
Jack Rasmus
US GDP Collapses and Economic Rebound Fades
John Kendall Hawkins
Suffrage: The Myth of Sisterphus
George Ochenski
An Unbelievably Disastrous State of Affairs
George Wuerthner
Trouble in Paradise Valley
Binoy Kampmark
State of Pandemic Disaster: Melbourne Moves to Stage Four
Howard Lisnoff
The ACLU Has Never Done a Damn Thing for Me
Priyanka Singh – Sujeet Singh
Time to Empower the Invisibles: India Awaits a Mental Health Revolution
CounterPunch News Service
Conservationists to Federal Agencies: Restore Protections for Imperiled Wildlife in the Flathead National Forest
August 05, 2020
Roy Eidelson
Black Lives Matter: Resisting the Propaganda of Status Quo Defenders
Melvin Goodman
The Department of Homeland Security: the Ideal Authoritarian Tool
Paul Street
Misleaders at a Funeral: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama Eulogizing Racial Justice in the Name of John Lewis
Seiji Yamada
Hiroshima, Technique, and Bioweapons
Vijay Prashad
How Trump Managed to Lead the World with the Worst Response to the COVID Pandemic
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Alternative
Jonas Ecke
The Worst Hunger Season Yet to Come: Global Moral Failure in the Time of Covid-19
Rafiq Kathwari
The Battle for Kashmir
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Arch-Kleptocrat is Found Guilty
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Cold War China Policy Will Isolate the U.S, Not China
Lee Camp
Why Housing Is a Human Right
Sam Pizzigati
For Egalitarians, a Sudden Sense of Possibility
Jonathan Cook
Can Israelis Broaden Their Protests Beyond Netanyahu?
Thomas Knapp
Ten Years After Lieberman’s “Internet Kill Switch,” the War on Freedom Rages On
Binoy Kampmark
Staying on Message: Australia, the US and the AUSMIN Talks
Elliot Sperber
The View From Saturn 
August 04, 2020
John Pilger
Another Hiroshima is Coming…Unless We Stop It Now
Dave Lindorff
Unsung Heroes of Los Alamos: Rethinking Manhattan Project Spies and the Cold War
Kenneth Good
Escalating State Repression and Covid-19: Their Impact on the Poor in Kenya
Dean Baker
We Need an Economic Survival Package Not Another Stimulus
David Rosen
Globalization and the End of the American Dream
John Feffer
The Pandemic Reveals a Europe More United Than the United States
Patrick Cockburn
The Government’s Failed Track-and-Trace System is a Disaster for England
Ramzy Baroud
‘Optimism of the Will’: Palestinian Freedom is Possible Now
CounterPunch News Service
Statement From Yale Faculty on Hydroxychloroquine and Its Use in COVID-19
Manuel García, Jr.
Ocean Heat: From the Tropics to the Poles
Sonali Kolhatkar
Why the Idea of Jobless Benefits Scares the Conservative Mind
Greta Anderson
Framing Wolves in New Mexico?
Binoy Kampmark
Pulling Out of Germany: Trump Adjusts the Military Furniture
Shawn Fremstad – Nicole Rodgers
COVID Stimulus Checks Shouldn’t Penalize One-Parent Households
Adam Shah
The 1 Percent’s Attack on Unemployment Benefits is a Sign of Our Broken Democracy
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail