The US Needs to Start “Winning” Again

A little over a decade ago, Charlie Sheen went on primetime TV to let the world know that he was “winning.”

That isn’t something that the US has done recently, despite getting rid of a deeply corrupt, narcissistic sociopath a year ago.

Deaths from the pandemic have reached over 865,000, highlighting the government’s inability to protect its own people. Yet the US media will still criticize China to no end, even in how they handled the pandemic, despite China having almost the lowest per-capita Covid case rate in the world.

Of course, China deserves criticism, including for not doing enough to prevent Covid from spreading in the first place, its treatment of Uighurs and other human rights issues. But with almost one million dead in the US in only two years, largely from disinformation that was fueled by the Trump government, in addition to an attempted insurrection last January, the United States isn’t in any position to look for monsters abroad.

The US for-profit healthcare system has failed the country in many ways that have been widely reported on by progressive media, from the lack of healthcare coverage for poor people, rampant racial health disparities in Covid death rates and the lack of hospital capacity to handle the many pandemic waves.

Less reported are the Covid vaccine and testing disincentives, caused largely by superfluous bureaucratic forms to fill out. Very few tests or vaccines are available where one can get a test/vaccine with just name and contact information. Instead, most require filling out a few pages of forms – which usually includes health insurer information, disincentivizing those without insurance from getting tested or vaccinated. The new Biden Covid tests that can be ordered online with just name and address are seemingly a breath of fresh air. Yet it requires more public service advertising to reach poor and marginalized communities rather than just sending the Covid tests to every household in America, no questions asked.

Before the Trump era, a rot had developed within the US governing system with “freedom” of lobbyists over citizens, corporate power over the workers and consumers, long-stagnant wages and vast wealth inequality.

The far-right under Trump put a match to dry wood and set the socio-political system aflame. It culminated in the disastrous US response to the Covid pandemic and in the January 6th Insurrection, which the Biden Justice Department has pursued only very low-level charges for, with the average insurrectionist prison sentence only 45-days. Somehow the Republican politicians who supported the attempt coup and questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 electoral win have been normalized; all but a few on the extreme far-right fringe politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene are treated by the media as if they have valid perspectives on governance.

On the Democratic side, Joe Manchin claims that fiscal responsibility prevents him from supporting Build Back Better. What Manchin’s Democratic colleagues fail to point out – as he lies to their faces – is that he regularly funds the US military at around $800 billion/year. Yet the $1.7 trillion within BBB would spread out over a decade, equaling less than a quarter of bloated military spending over the same period. Rather than funding the US to bomb other countries or keep bases in Africa that most Americans aren’t aware of, it would assist the struggling American public during the pandemic and allow for some basic social support that, for the past several decades, has been stripped from them.

It suffices to say that, in Charlie Sheen’s words, the US is not “winning.”

There are monsters abroad, but they are eclipsed by the one in the mirror. Let’s confront this monster and be like Sheen, pass BBB and start “winning” again.

As a prolific author from the Boston area, Peter F. Crowley writes in various forms, including short fiction, op-eds, poetry and academic essays. In 2020, his poetry book Those Who Hold Up the Earth was published by Kelsay Books and received impressive reviews by Kirkus Review, the Bangladeshi New Age and two local Boston-area newspapers. His writing can be found in Middle East Monitor, Znet, 34th Parallel, Pif Magazine, Galway Review, Digging the Fat, Adelaide’s Short Story and Poetry Award anthologies (finalist in both) and The Opiate.

His forthcoming books, due out later in 2023, are That Night and Other Stories (CAAB Publishing) and Empire’s End (Alien Buddha Press)