Game without Referee

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

I once lived in both Germanys [1] and have watched and listened to (West)-German news from my childhood on to this day, now on the Internet: Over there – at least ever since the wall came down – I have never seen news channels contradicting each other with facts and “alternative facts” to a degree it has long become daily routine in the US. One American station offers its audience a sometimes completely different story about one and the same topic than the other, with the clear intention to affect and often manipulate public opinion. Needless to emphasize that these brainwashers do not fit any category of “independent news.” Americans, it seems, are so used to it that many of them have surrendered their ability for differentiation, inconsiderately choosing the source of information closest to their perceptions best match.

The only weapon against such delusion is knowledge: historic knowledge, in this case. If people in their majority would only – no matter whether they prefer CNN or Fox News – think more for themselves, and, most importantly, ignore everything tossed at them carrying bogus dummy-labels like “Socialism” or “Liberal”, clueless about the fact that their own country has nothing but liberal roots. Instead, leave party ideologies aside and take the time to listen to the history of your own country. The examples are innumerable: 26th President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, a Republican, used the power of government to regulate the market and implement measurements in support of the little guy from the street. He openly sided with the Unions and deemed every American worker the right to join them. Did it make him a Socialist? Certainly not. Franklin Delano Roosevelt created social security and public work programs to pull millions of Americans out of the despair of the Great Depression. Read George Washington, even better: the writings of John Adams and his vision and apprehensions about the American society, and make up your own mind if developing and implementing ideas in support of the ones in need has anything to do with things like the “radical left”, “radical socialists”, or anything else associated with it.

This polarized country could be easily united if certain people would make use of common sense instead of letting ideology determine their political alignment. Opinion can differ and find its expression in arguments – that is part of a democracy in a fair contest of ideas to find the best way possible. But if unsubstantiated and plain rhetorical remarks, not seldom paired with a lack of knowledge, are the result of a different intuition about which course the society should take, then the result can only be an irreconcilable, often even hateful nation. Since the emergence of a party system in the infant USA, stemming from the days of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, this country has endlessly suffered from ideological division – and back then, newspapers were occupying the places of CNN and Fox News to play both ends against the middle. It was already bad at the very beginning of this nation.

The maltreated United States of modern days runs under a free, uncontrolled, exploitative market economy with millions of its citizens subsequently being left behind, virtually without any option to protect themselves at their work place [2], not to mention the ability to obtain adequate health care insurance. The correction of both issues should constitute a basic right, not a privilege. Why does a system of more equal justice works relatively well in other western countries? Why can’t a more fair distribution of wealth be arranged in the United States?

Every football- and soccer game comes with a referee, who is in charge of the unbiased observance of the rules, ensuring a fair outcome of the contest. Without the referee, there would be chaos, and club law would be the order of the day. In a democratic society it is the task of the parliamentary bodies and the government to establish protective rules (laws) for its citizenry; rules that also reach into the work environment, and thereby serve as a referee. This would move the United States’ economy from a wild-west system to a civilized Social Market Economy, whereby “Social” should not to be confused with “Socialism.” [3]

But, the economic and social system in the United States thus far never knew such a full-time referee. Regulation seems to run counter with the American notion of unlimited freedom. And too many Americans will always fall into the trap of dividing populism – a sinister trump card played at the service of the ruthless gentry, taking shameless advantage of the many.

Notes:

[1] After World War II and mounting divergences among the three western powers and the Soviet Union, a free, democratic Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) under the protection of the United States was founded in September 1949 in the west. Sixteen days later, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was established in the eastern zone, controlled by the Soviets. The GDR disappeared from the world map after a peaceful revolution in 1989/90, tolerated by a transforming Soviet Union under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. 

[2] The author has worked eight years for America’s largest retailer, Walmart.

[3] For a more optimistic outlook, it is my prediction that the United States of America will slowly move toward that direction. Otherwise, the country as a unity would have no chance for survival. With more demographic changes in the future inevitable, I am sure the younger generation will confront the challenges of the 21st century with more progressive determination and a sound sense of reality than most self-declared, conservative farts living in certain hillbilly-regions of the US. Movements like “Fridays for Future” certainly give rise to that hope.  

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