You want to make America strong again? The only way to do so is to start telling the truth and insisting on the truth.
“Making America Strong Again” is a potent political narrative. But what does “being strong” mean? For some, it’s a code-phrase for bullying–forcing other nations to do our bidding.
For others, it describes a re-emergence of widespread domestic economic vitality.
Another audience sees the rebuilding of a social contract and social cohesion as the essence of strength.
As laudable as some of these interpretations of strength might be, to me “being strong” boils down to one principle, and only one principle: tell the truth, however painful and unwelcome as it might be. The essence of weakness is the cowardice of avoiding the truth. We as a nation have grown accustomed to the cowardice of half-truths, half-confessions, half-apologies and a financial system that rewards fraud in all its variations of artifice, deception and lies.
What’s presented as “fact” is actually a spectrum of manipulation and lies. Does anyone with a basic grasp of the economy really believe unemployment is 5% or less? Does anyone seeking the truth believe that a person working one hour a week is equivalent to someone working 40 hours a week? Isn’t counting both of these positions as equally statistically important jobs a form of not telling the truth?
If you hold great wealth and power, and the source of your wealth and power is illegitimate, you must dissemble, fabricate, propagandize and lie to hide the illegitimacy of your power. That is the status quo of the U.S. in a nutshell. Those who earned wealth and gained power legitimately have no fear of the truth. Those whose wealth and power is illegitimate fear the truth more than anything else.
The Power Elite of the nation has purposefully co-joined “America” and “Empire,” as if the two cannot be separated. They have successfully conned much of the public into a strained belief that the U.S. isn’t an Imperial Project, that we’re just looking out for our “interests,” which just happen to extend into every nook and cranny of the entire planet.
The Power Elite has also purposefully confused bullying with strength. Bullying fails because the bullied hate the bully with every fiber of their being. True strength flows from opt-in, mutually beneficial alliances that people and nations join out of self-interest. Such opt-in relationships can only endure if telling the truth is the core principle, for truth is the foundation of trust, and trust is the foundation of durable alliances and cooperative networks.
The Power Elite of the nation has pushed the narrative that its own rising power reflects the rising power of the nation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The increasing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many is the source of America’s weakness, vulnerability and fragmentation.
Take a look at this chart. While GDP per person (per capita) has been rising, household income has been declining. What does that tell us about the economic growth we keep hearing about? That it’s flowing to the top and being drained from the bottom 80%.
Telling the truth, and insisting on the truth, requires courage, a moral foundation and strength. Telling lies, accepting half-truths and living with fraud as a way of life is easy because it requires no courage, moral foundation or strength.
You want to make America strong again? The only way to do so is to start telling the truth and insisting on the truth. Accepting statistical lies, propaganda and fraud as “truth” because it’s easy and doesn’t challenge our assumptions is a one-way road to ruin.