This is not America, sha la la la la*
Yet another flag burning amendment has passed the house, and is headed for the senate. This has happened several times in the past, and the senate has always blocked it by a few votes. This time it will probably go through, and the states will fall all over themselves to see who can ratify it first.
A week ago that would have upset me. Although I thought flag burning was despicable, freedom includes the right to do despicable things. I had said that if the amendment passed, it would be time to burn the flag quietly, with tears running down my face, because we destroyed what it stood for to deal with a trivial problem.
But it doesn't matter to me any more.
America is done. It was a noble experiment, one that tried valiantly to preserve liberty for more than two centuries. The experiment has had high points and low points as we attempted to sort things out, but now it's over. It has failed.
Mark down this date on your calendar: On June 23, 2005, America died.
A little piece of you
The little piece in me
This could be a miracle
For this is not America
The Land of The Free has a higher percentage of our population in prison than any other country, and more than half of them are there for non-violent drug crimes. The biggest obstacle to the War on Some Drugs has been the fourth amendment. The Supreme Court has been happy to help, treating every WoSD case as an opportunity to slice some of it away.
But gutting it wasn't enough. The PATRIOT competed the evisceration. For all practical purposes, the forth amendment no longer exists.
A little while ago we were saddled with The Real ID Act, which turns the US into a "May I haff your papers pleezzze?" country. Participation, we're told, is voluntary. If you opt out, you won't be able to drive a car, get on a plane, ride on a train, cash a check, open a bank account, collect your social security…but it's voluntary!
Then came Gonzales vs. Raich. The feds arrested two patients who, under doctors orders, grew their own marijuana to relieve their pain. The feds claimed they had jurisdiction because the constitution allows them to regulate interstate commerce. These people were not buying or selling pot, and never crossed state lines. Their actions did not involve commerce, nor were they doing anything interstate. But the Supremes casually shrugged off those obvious facts and ruled that Feds could use the commerce clause to go after these citizens.
The dangers of this ruling go far beyond the issue of smoking pot. In his dissent Judge Thomas wrote,"If Congress can regulate this under the commerce clause, then it can regulate virtually anything--and the federal government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers." In short, the federal government is no longer bound by the constitution. They've habitually ignored it anyway, but now they can do it officially, with the blessing of the Supreme Court.
The final straw, the one what made me realize that America was over, happened a few days ago.
Under the principle of Eminent Domain the government is allowed to force the sale of property for the common good. It was intended to allow the government to build roads, dams, locks, etc. But for the past twenty years it has been used to take land from private citizens and hand it over to corporations. It's a simple process. A developer wants your property to build a condo or a strip mall or parking lot. He convinces the local government that his development will pay more property taxes than you do. The government condemns your property, pays you what they decide its worth, and hands it over to the private developer.
This is not a rare thing – it's happened over 10,000 times in the past decade. The Supreme Court had a chance to put a stop to it with the Kelo v. New London case. Instead, they ruled that it was just fine and dandy. If someone wants your property all they have to do is buy a local politician (and they are surprisingly affordable) and you're gone. Refuse to leave, and men with guns will come to your house. Resist them, and they will kill you.
This decision abolishes private property. Oh, you may have your deed, and it may be on pretty paper with nice scrollwork and signatures in black ink, but it doesn't mean a damn thing. It is fiction. Anyone who wants your house or your land can take it, as long as they have more money than you.
And with that, America is over. The United States is still here, but America is gone. In America, the government served the people, and answered to them. In the United States, the people are forced to pay the government 40-50% of everything they earn in exchange for having more and more and more of their lives regulated. We now exist to serve the government.
There was a time
A wind that blew so young
For this could be the biggest sky
And I could have the faintest idea
For this is not America,
sha la la la la,
Governments exist to protect people and property. Our government does neither, and there's no indication that will change.
Some of you eternal optimists might think there's still hope. We could, after all, get some SC judges who have actually read the constitution. We might elect some legislators who aren't wholly owned subsidiaries of corporations and special interest groups. And citizens might finally wake up, realize just how much freedom has been stripped from them in the past few decades, and shake off their complacency.
Hold on to that optimism, friend. Use to ease your pain as everything that was America crumbles around you. I wish I could join you, but I'm a realist. I don't see any evidence that the trend can be reversed. In fact, there are even worse things on the horizon.
This is not America, sha la la la la
I still consider my self an American, that is, someone who believes in the principles and ideas laid down by the Founding Fathers. But that makes me a man without a country. America no longer exists. In it's place we have the United States, a shoddy imitation of the concept that gets shoddier with every passing day.
Now that America is done, the symbol that represents it is meaningless. I can't get upset about flag burners any more, nor does it bother me that we're about to gut the first amendment over it. Some people will get upset if you burn a flag, polish your car with one or use it to clean up a dog mess on the carpent. Not me, not any more. It doesn't matter, because it no longer stands for anything.
For this is not America, sha la la la la, sha la la la la, sha la la la la
This is not america, no, this is not, sha la la la
This is not america, no, this is not
This is not america, no, this is not, sha la la la
*This Is Not America © David Bowie
In 1999 I proposed my own flag burning amendment.
© 2005 Dave Hitt