Why do Americans not rise to the challenge and confront their government? guest commentarist Mary MacElveen writes: Someone who has read many of my articles wrote me an email the other night perplexed asking why there is no outrage coming from the American people when we are confronted with so many issues. We see the news print many articles with headlines that scream out to us for attention.

There are many times, as I sit and read the paper daily, or the news printed on several web sites, where I find myself asking: Why do Americans not rise to the challenge and confront their government?

I would have to say that this phenomenon has me scratching my head at times.

As I logged on this morning to a Yahoo group where politics is discussed, someone else asked the same question where he stated: “Why people aren’t RIOTING against them?” 

I have no idea … this stuff belongs on ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’ … what he was reacting to was a series of headlines in print. Mike went onto say “Only Bush can be heard talking, but it’s NEVER a 2-way street with him. DICTATOR!” … and I do agree with him.

This lends itself to a worldwide discussion and to ask if this is truly an American phenomenon. I then replied to both Mike and Robert with some of my own observations as I have monitored the people’s reaction to many dire situations. and ones that are not so dire … but equally just as important.

I have a sinking feeling that we are all going to have to face a crisis that will make many of the crises of the past pail in comparison.

If it is a financial disaster, it will have to be one where it will make the crash of the stock market back in 1929 look like a walk in the park.

If we are going to face a crisis as we did on September 11, it will have to be one much bigger than that event.

While the effects of that attack were horrific, another attack I feel, in order to get people’s attention, will have to be one with catastrophic after effects. While I do not wish that upon my country, since I do not want to see the lives of the innocent taken, I feel such an event is the only thing that will get America’s attention.

One of the after-effects of September 11, I feel, was the explosion of people’s interest in reality-TV … which in my opinion has nothing to do with reality, but escapism. People want to escape their daily lives or wanted to cocoon themselves where they do not have to feel any pain.

Going back to my observations as to why we do not see riots, and where I just made the case that, it will have to be something catastrophic and felt by all. Such a catastrophic event will be one where the effects will be felt for years. I even wrote about such a scenario in a past editorial, “And We are Worried about Box Cutters?”

Another reason why I do not see people taking to the streets is, that thanks to  24/7 cable news and with the speed and lack of in-depth reporting, there is no meat to chew on. It truly becomes hard for most Americans to grasp what is going on within their world. When I was growing up the news hour was where we could all sit down, watch the news and discuss it at our family dinner table. With Americans working more than one job due to economic factors, family dinners are, for many, becoming a thing of the past.

Also with the speed of the 24/7 news and the wide range of horrific policies thrown at us, the truly uniformed public is left defenseless.

That is not to say that this public is totally responsible for not being well-informed, especially when you have so many working more than one job to keep food on the table. Can we really fault them since economic factors force them to work longer hours in order to survive? They are already facing many personal issues such as higher property taxes, lack of medical insurance, higher food bills, higher energy bills and the list is endless. Then if they have children, their needs and rightfully so must be attended to.

  • So, when we ask, why no collective outrage toward the Bush administration, I think I have just answered that. After all of that, many do need to decompress.

Another factor why I do not hold the American people totally responsible for any lack of information, was addressed by me in a past editorial, “Knowledge is Power or Power Over Knowledge.”

So, getting back to what will it take to wake them up?

An event we have not even thought of will have to rip right through them and where finally they will wake up saying, “What the hell happened?” My answer will then be compassionate towards some and an anger towards others: “Many were trying to fight this from the get go and you just did not listen.”

In further response to Mike, where he cited several print headlines, my response was this: “As all of us do know the circulation and subscription rates for newspapers and magazines has gone down consistently over the past few years where people more or less rely on these cable networks for their news. If these cable news channels are not reporting these items, there will be no riots.” I rest my case in where I wrote about that in Citizens for Legitimate Government piece.

Lastly, there is case to be made where some Americans are selfish, if an issue does not affect one group of people but is being felt by another group, the non-affected group will not come to the aid of those in trouble. In essence, it is going to take as I said some catastrophic event felt by everyone across the board where they feel that their government has truly screwed up.

As Bush has created an isolationist country, we ourselves have become isolationists.

Many Americans are of the mindset, “If it does not affect me, why get involved?”

One would have thought that Americans would have rioted after the 2000 presidential campaign … but they failed miserably at coming to the aid of their country.

I can cite you a clear example when America should have rioted and that is when the Bush v. Gore decision was handed down.

Where was America and why did she not come to the aid of her country?

I seem to remember the citizens of Kosovo storming their government buildings to take back their government thereby handing Slobodan Milosevic over The Hague to face charges for crimes against humanity. They rose to this challenge and admirably so.

When people have stated to me that Al Gore did not fight hard enough … and as we all know he fought for 37 days … my answer is “One man can fight a battle, but he needs an army to win the war … and America did not come to Al Gore’s side to become such an army.”

Will America ever become such an army?

  • In my opinion, only time will tell.

Until then, there will be no riots.

Mary MacElveen

What do you think?

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