America is stressing me out!
OPINION: The political climate of this country is toxic for our mental health.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
America is like a toxic lover who keeps scaring me to death. We used to have a good relationship but now it’s just bringing me down. Somehow, I grew up believing that the moral arc of America was bending toward justice—from the ’70s to the 2010s things seemed to be slowly but consistently getting better for many Black people, women, and LGBTQ folks. The country had many problems, but I felt like we were edging in the right direction. Now I feel like we’re racing down the wrong path and maybe the empire is falling apart.
We are in a nation that is rapidly restricting rights for women, silencing discussion of our racial history, and eroding gay rights. We have crippling inflation, massive wealth inequality, and our military power seems increasingly irrelevant. Trump remains unpunished for inspiring a coup, and he could conceivably become president again. The political right remains lost in a fantasy world of “alternative facts.” Mass shootings are common, and my mind is filled with videos of police shooting Black people. All of this and more has left me stressed to my core. I feel like America—the idea of a great, free democratic nation—has become absurd. The greatest country in the world? Only a fool could believe that. We couldn’t even come together to battle COVID. I’m overwhelmed, exhausted and fatigued from being outraged every day since about 2015.
Part of my mistake was believing that an empire could deliver justice. All power corrupts, and America’s global power has corrupted it to the core. We somehow believed that our mission in the post-World War II world was to spread democracy around the globe as if that would solve all our problems. But we are losing the democracy we prized in this country. The Republican Party has gone off the deep end as a party that rejects facts, justice and traditional democratic practices—they are political terrorists who have used their power in the Senate to take over the Supreme Court. We have years of more bad rulings ahead. But the biggest problem in our democracy runs deeper than that.
In a nation where the vast amount of wealth is concentrated in a few hands, and that wealth can be used to shape our political system, there is no real democracy. One vote means little when a tiny group of people is donating millions to ensure the outcomes they want. We are trapped in a broken system that is increasingly providing less and less justice and solving fewer and fewer serious problems. I am stressed and afraid about the future of America, and I don’t know how we can break free from an arc that’s pointing downward. If you have an idea about how we can get back to an arc pointing toward justice please tell me. My Twitter is @toure. I need a sliver of hope, and I don’t see one.
Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U. Look out for his upcoming podcast Being Black In the 80s.
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