Americans split the atom.
Americans, with allies, defeated fascism.
Americans, with allies, outlasted the Soviet Union.
Americans brought 100 years of Jim Crow to an end through blood and peaceful action.
Americans brought an unjust war waged by their government in Vietnam to an end.
And Americans need to grow the fuck up.
I started this essay the other night, and the jobs report intervened. 69,000 jobs were added in May. Obviously, it's safe to say, that's not good enough. But let's dig a little deeper.
The Obama Administration has done everything it can through executive order to spur job growth. And, for the most part, has been successful; even with the anemic job numbers for May, it represents the 27th straight month of job growth.
But there's only so much that the Administration can do on its own. In the end, the power of the purse belongs with the Congress; specifically, with the GOP-controlled House, from whence all spending bills must originate. Let that sink in. A chamber of Congress run by a party whose only purpose in power is to ensure that this President fails is responsible for things like, say, jobs bills. And in the other chamber, a GOP minority, thanks to Senate rules, serves as a disloyal opposition, pursuing destruction of the President over the good of the nation.
There is nothing keeping the GOP from passing something approximating a jobs bill—a real jobs bill, that puts people to work as the Recovery Act did, not just a deregulatory masturbation fantasy for its supporters—and then duking it out with Obama and the Democrats over who can claim credit for the lowering UEI. Well, there is one thing keeping them from doing that: there's a nihilism rampant in the GOP that looks with horror on doing anything benefiting the voters that put that man into the White House. That, and the fact that their standard bearer, Mitt Romney, is so disliked by most voters that if the GOP House and the rump in the Senate acquiesced to a jobs program, they know that Pres. Obama would still get most of the credit for working in a bipartisan fashion with a group of people who want nothing but his destruction.
So why do Americans need to grow the fuck up?
Well, the GOP didn't get into control of the House by happenstance. An election occurred in 2010. Perhaps we all remember it? One could call it a "wave" election. Except for one niggling problem: 50 million fewer people voted in 2010 than they did in 2008. One can assume that the majority of those people were "disappointed" Obama voters, upset because universal peace and prosperity hadn't been born from his head as Athena from Zeus. If even half of that 50 million had voted, Nancy Pelosi would still be Speaker and real jobs bills would have been passed. So, it wasn't a "wave" election; people expected Obama to make all their wishes come true with no effort on their part, were pissed because he couldn't quite overcome all on his own intransigent Republicans—a GOP caucus more radical than any before in history—and feckless Democrats who have never heard of party discipline, and decided to stay home to "teach Obama a lesson". These voters abdicated their duties as citizens out of a fit of pique or laziness, take your pick. And now they're shocked—shocked!—that the GOP lied about its political program in 2010, and have focused on everything besides jobs, focusing mostly on destroying a functioning government.
There is an infantilism in the US body politic which can't be explained away solely by the degeneration of our news media. Yes, the US news conglomerates are awful. And yes, people are working harder and longer just to stay afloat. But the way with which voters swing from one promised savior to another is untenable. It is no way to run a 21st century democracy. President Obama didn't promise an easy road. In 2008 he said over and over that 30 years couldn't be undone in 4 or 8 years; certainly not in the 2 that the public gave him. At some point we have to collectively mature, and realize that any change that we want will only come by our sweat, by the work of our minds and hearts. Perhaps this country has to hit rock bottom before it begins its ascent. Perhaps this year will be the wakeup call, when against past experience voters realize that they have to take an active part in governance if they don't want the likes of ALEC and the Koch Brothers writing legislation which is rubberstamped by an acquiescent Congress and signed by a stooge like Mitt Romney.
I still have optimism, because curling up and waiting for Romney's coronation is not an option. And I have optimism because Barack Obama is an exceptional man. But he's only a man, not a savior. Anything he accomplishes can only be done so by the support of people like me, and you, behaving like adults, taking part in our own governance. It's time for Americans to stop acting like petulant children, and start acting like citizens of the world's last superpower, if they want to remain citizens of the world's last superpower, and not the serfs of a banana republic. Yes, it's past time that this generation of Americans grows the fuck up.