A eulogy for the United States on its birthday

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to pay our respects to the dearly departed United States. It was dearly loved, and it has now definitely departed.

We continue to celebrate its birth on the 4th of July with an awe-inspiring fireworks display on the National Mall after imbibing copious amounts of liquor at millions of backyard barbecues waving the red, white and blue and removing a finger or two exploding fireworks at home. Some of us will fire guns in the air. Some of us will die miles from where someone fired a gun into the air. Few of us will recognize or mourn the country’s death: dated July 1, 2024.

Millions of us remain stuck at the first stage of grieving: shock and denial. But, just look at the corpse. Riddled with bullets from numerous mass shootings, overheated and bloated by climate change its leaders denied, it was ultimately brought to a near-death state by a combination of cancerous activities that made the body politic unable to function. Ultimately, and tragically the United States died of self-inflicted wounds.

If we are to ever move forward, we must at least acknowledge this simple fact: The United States of our forefathers is gone. Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion of the Supreme Court that acted as the final bullet to the country’s head. That’s right. John Roberts is the equivalent of John Wilkes Booth. Going forward the President of the United States has immunity from prosecution for any “official” act taken while in office – effectively placing the president above the law. The ultimate arbiter of what an “official act” is will be the Supreme Court. This places the court squarely in the middle of partisan political squabbles in which the founders didn’t want them involved. Thus, The Court is guilty of establishing an autocracy we stood against during our revolution.

Millions of us are at the second stage of grief in this process; we feel the pain and some feel the guilt, though at this point most members of the MAGA party are gleeful that they finally killed democracy. 

We are thus and still, a house divided against itself. Mitch McConnell, the Heritage Foundation, Bill Barr and conservative so-called Christians celebrate the death as if the nation’s demise is Christ rising from his tomb and walking among us. The delusions across the country were spread by the doctors of democratic death during the last six decades as the patient withered and died; Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump are chief among them.

The United States had a good run. Born from an oppressive tea tax imposed by Britain without the consent of the governed, slave and land-owning patriots across the original 13 colonies rebelled and tried to institute a government that derived its powers “from the consent of the governed.” A bold ideal that wasn’t reality, as women and Blacks had no voice in the government originally. But as Martin Luther King Jr. later declared, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Slavery ended, women got the vote, education improved and by the beginning of the 20th Century the democracy appeared in robust shape. Most people trusted government institutions, and while Jim Crow policies and economic disparity during the “Gilded Age” enabled many to question the country’s vitality, an overwhelming majority of us ignored the warning signs.

World War I saw the rise of the U.S. internationally. After coming through the Great Depression, as trying a time as the country had ever seen, Franklin D. Roosevelt rallied the country and told us “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The country rose to the challenge and the greatest generation that weathered the depression and served in World War II also created the atomic bomb and made us a Superpower. Little could the U.S. know that its greatest success contained its greatest challenge and ultimately lead to its death. Of course, it didn’t appear that way at the time – to those who were doing okay. 

Underneath it all was the generational accumulation of poverty, lack of education and healthcare along with racism and misogyny. 

Meanwhile, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about greed and the military-industrial complex. We didn’t listen. After 170 years of existence, the United States was riding high on its hubris and dominating the International stage. We warred for profit. We partied like drunken frat boys. We dictated to other countries as if we held the moral high ground. We preached our purity, our ethics and our success. When we thought it necessary, we not only preached, but we forced others to our will. Why not? The United States? F the world. We ran it.

The bright side of all of this optimism and hope for the future reached a climax with John F. Kennedy. During his inauguration, the youngest president ever elected said “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Speaking to our ability to work together, the Kennedy inaugural address led many to think the U.S was at its healthiest among nations on the planet, past, present and perhaps in the future. “The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world,” he said with pride and without prejudice.

But, the national disease, though showing symptoms few understood, had spread and before the end of Kennedy’s first term he was assassinated in Dallas – and to this day all of the facts about that grim day have not been made public. That enabled the calls of conspiracies and deep state accusations to take root. Now the disease was in public view.

A short time later the country turned on itself again, killing M.L.K who swore there was a moral arc of the Universe. Six weeks later Bobby Kennedy, who eulogized King, was gunned down in Los Angeles. A chaotic 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago led to Mayor Richard Daley’s police force beating and jailing protestors. The ensuing Chicago Seven trial showed how little faith the people now had in the political system, how disparate the system was and how authoritarian it had become. 

In retrospect, most of us missed the signs of the fatal illness. We celebrated our freedoms in art and music, but The Hays Act still dominated movies and Jim Morrison was banned from Ed Sullivan’s show after he sang “girl we couldn’t get much higher.” The ability to illogically accept two incongruous trains of thought highlighted the country’s split personality.

Some of us marched for peace while our government made war. Norman Solomon said in “Made Love Got War,” for those who understood the facts that whistling past graveyards came to seem natural. “The planet is now at its worst in terms of prospect for human survival,” he warned us.

The United States didn’t listen. When the World Trade Center fell to terrorists, for a brief moment we were united, but we split into our scared little corners shortly afterward. The terrorists, in a way, had won. Or more accurately, the national disease was too far advanced for the United States to think cogently. We passed the Patriot Act. Elsewhere, we were so uneducated that we passed “No Child Left Behind” – which left an entire generation of American children undereducated and unprepared for adulthood.

Our infrastructure began to fail. We didn’t embrace universal healthcare. We refused to pass responsible gun legislation. Our elected officials became more vituperative and less intelligent. We graduated from a robust economy that built a thriving middle class, to a bloated “trickle down” economy that fed the filthy rich and robbed everyone else. The age of robber barons had returned. We entered a technological dark age that further fed the national illness.

The disease claimed our cognitive functions. Unable to connect, unable to take care of ourselves, our institutions couldn’t stand. In the final stages of the disease, the country withered – electing older men to the highest office while Congress and the judiciary retreated from the high water of progress to embrace Christian Nationalism. It was as if the country knew it was dying and was appealing to a higher power to save it because it was no longer capable of saving itself. Women lost the right to healthcare. Legislators demanded we teach the Ten Commandments in public schools – in a country that prided itself on the separation of church and state in order to avoid the centuries of strife that plagued Europe. The high tide of the American ideal was long gone. What remained was a walking, emaciated corpse.

As the Supreme Court fired the fatal bullet, President Joe Biden tried to bring hope, but only reminded us how far we’ve fallen.

“Today, the Supreme Court took a bulldozer to the democratic credo that no one—including presidents and former presidents—is above the law.” But people didn’t listen. They were too busy being upset over a recent debate appearance. The media, long ago having abandoned its mission of providing information to the public, instead tried to entertain us with wild accusations and shocking headlines – all for the sake of money.

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Three years ago, after Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, Mitch McConnell explained, ‘We have a criminal justice system in this country… And former Presidents are not immune from being held accountable.’ That the last gasp defending the United States came from one of the chief architects of its demise should not escape anyone’s attention. Today, with the blessings of a politicized Supreme Court, Presidents now are presumptively immune from criminal prosecution for using their office to assassinate political rivals, organize a military coup, or take bribes. 

The rest of us live at the whims of a corpse. Many are in the fourth state of grief: depression. Some would rather die than go forward. “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

To take an upward turn and embrace hope and a better future from this political death (the last steps in the grieving process), the U.S. electorate must find a way forward. Biden said he doesn’t support the president being made a king. “So should the American people dissent. I dissent,” he said before he prayed to God to “help preserve our democracy.”

Placing four additional justices on the Supreme Court is the most legitimate step to take if we wish to revive, not preserve, our democracy. The question everyone is lost arguing about now, is who is best to do it?

It isn’t Donald Trump. Millions are now unsure it’s Joe Biden – and it seems an overwhelming majority of Americans are thus stuck in the third stage of grieving; anger and bargaining.

What, I ask, are they hoping to bargain for?

The President said when you get knocked down, you get up again. He may be a Tubthumping fan of Chumbawamba, but the United States cannot get back up again as long as the President is above the law.

The United States is dead. Long live the United States.

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