…2015, whither that ‘shining city on a hill’, that is the us?…

Much admired in the US, the late Mario Cuomo was former New York Governor, politician and Democrat. His passing has prompted references to a speech he had made in 1984 at a Democratic party national convention. In his address, Mr Cuomo exposed as myth a depiction by the late US President Reagan of the US as some ‘Shining City on a Hill’, a bit of nonsense much of the world had long known. A few key observations from that speech, 1984 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address,

A shining city is perhaps all the President sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his ranch, where everyone seems to be doing well. But there’s another city; there’s another part to the shining the city; the part where some people can’t pay their mortgages, and most young people can’t afford one; where students can’t afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate.

In this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can’t find it. Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets, in the gutter, where the glitter doesn’t show. There are ghettos where thousands of young people, without a job or an education, give their lives away to drug dealers every day. There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don’t see, in the places that you don’t visit in your shining city.

In fact, Mr. President, this is a nation — Mr. President you ought to know that this nation is more a “Tale of Two Cities” than it is just a “Shining City on a Hill.”

That was 1984. Twenty years later, in 2004, at a similar convention, a relatively unknown politician of minor accomplishments would engage in similarly lofty rhetoric, with the difference that little of it is remembered. Yet his was a presentation sufficient to launch the marketing and selling of a President. So then with the passage of time, how has the ‘other city’, ‘the Other America (USA)’ fared? As the US MSM has long preached, the US voter is the best informed in the world, informed enough to make well-reasoned choices at the ballot box in the land of democracy.

Since that speech in 1984, Democrats have been elected President, and to majorities in the US House of Representatives and Senate, at times in control of both with the incumbent President, a Democrat. So that ‘Tale of Two Cities’, now a long forgotten era? We reflect.

In 2011, Miles Corak would point to the stark reality, not US MSM-created illusion, of the US, in his post, Inequality and Occupy Wall Street 5: decline of the American Dream. Couple excerpts,

In fact, the United States is among the most unequal of the rich countries, and also among the least mobile.

In 1992 the American Economic Review published two path-breaking articles, one byGary Solon and another by David Zimmerman. Their results illustrate a disconnect between the way Americans see themselves, and the way the economy and society actually function. The playing field is a good deal stickier than many believe.

In February 2014, Juan Cole would post, Race Inequality in America by Graph, from Crime Sentencing to Income. This excerpted chart, from IASP as indicated, shows the progress of black families since that 1984 speech.

 

african-americans-numbers-3.

To add further depth, a recent post over at the inequality blog poses a challenge for those seeking a perceptible difference in either of the corporate political duopoly, other than the cynical ‘culture wars’ and ‘hot button issues’ that so often succeed, Congress Spreads Joy to the 1 Percent. And this at time when inattentiveness in the US seems to reign.

…for her efforts in highlighting the undisguised affront to the indolent US voter the US Senator Elizabeth Warren would be branded by the US corporate media as a ‘far left’, one ‘waging war on Wall Street’. In other truly democratic countries the Senator would be more likely considered a centrist, even slightly right of centre…

Amid all the obvious, why the apathy or demonstrated incuriosity of the US citizen? A Pew research poll on inequality of late 2013,  The U.S.’s high income gap is met with relatively low public concern, provides some disquieting or damning evidence. Couple excerpts,

Americans in the upper fifth of the income stream make 16.7 times the income of those in the lower fifth. Yet barely half (47%) of Americans think that the rich-poor gap is a very big problem for the U.S.

[snip]

While the connection between the size of the income gap and the extent to which the public considers it a big problem is not strong in the U.S., other nations’ views are more aligned with reality.

[bold added for emphasis]

In contrast there would be another finding that 40% of the US still, in 2015, believes that WMDs were found in Iraq? The power of patriotic belief.

Clearly, the US MSM continues to enjoy success with the incessant flattery of some exceptionalism, of that (illusion of) ‘frontier spirit’ and ‘rugged individualism’. Then would follow the reality of predictable distractions.

So in 2014, 10 years after that other foray into long forgotten rhetoric, that relatively unknown, very inexperienced politician continues into his second term as US President. Which brings us back to this excerpt from the late Mario Cuomo’s address in 1984,

But there’s another city; there’s another part to the shining the city; the part where some people can’t pay their mortgages, and most young people can’t afford one; where students can’t afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate.

In this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can’t find it. Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets, in the gutter, where the glitter doesn’t show. There are ghettos where thousands of young people, without a job or an education, give their lives away to drug dealers every day. There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don’t see, in the places that you don’t visit in your shining city.

So, how different in 2014? And while there is no need to guess who is coming to dinner, the other guess would be the cost of the dinner of the much-marketed former community organiser, now in second term as Democratic President, as the Independent asks, Can you still aspire to be a man of the people if you sit down to a $1,000 per couple dinner?

…democracy and ‘democracy’, and that urgency of two US political parties to fabricate that ever existential enemy that must be destroyed – even with innocent citizens, and so highly lucrative for that select few…

Advertisements