By Guy Saperstein / Original to Scheerpost
My wife and I have spent sixty years fighting for social justice in America and trying to be good citizens, me as a civil-rights lawyer who litigated — and won — the largest race, age, and disability employment discrimination cases in American history, and my wife as a teacher, social worker, healthcare activist and philanthropist. I retired at fifty-one, having built an enormously lucrative practice, never losing a case as I pursued legal restitution on behalf of clients who had gotten the short end of the stick.
I was the very embodiment of the American Dream. But over the decades, I’ve become convinced that America is in terminal decline and that the battle for justice and equity is hopeless. The reasons are multiple.
America once led the world in innovation. No more. We don’t even have one mile of high-speed rail, unless you count Disneyland. China has 30,000, and counting. Which country do you think is prepared to prosper in the next century?
We can’t even keep our roads repaired. America’s roads are a mess, many as bad as any Third World country. In fact, that is what America is becoming — a Third World country.
The battle is lost. America is in terminal decline and nearly 75 million Americans seem to be willing to pull it down further. How can it be that so many millions voted for a man who failed in everything he ever tried—a man who started more than a score of businesses and every one failed, who cheated repeatedly on three wives before each marriage failed, who is despised by even members of his own family, who went out of his way nearly every day to show that he is a racist and a sexist, a man who has been caught, according to the Washington Post, in more than 30,000 lies in just the four years he was president, who cheated at nearly everything, including golf, how is it that such a man is held up as a paragon of virtue by nearly half of the electorate? Something has gone seriously off the rails.
I can no longer bear the chest-thumping triumphalism of the No-Nothing Party. I can’t stand the self-congratulatory promotion of the hoary notion of American exceptionalism. People who think America is the greatest in all things are people who simply have never been anywhere else. America is not now — and has never been — a representative democracy and won’t be in my lifetime and probably not in yours, either. Biden won by 7.3 million votes — a smashing win, right? — but if just 43,000 votes in a few states had switched, Donald Trump would still be president today. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom could have received 49% of the vote in the recall election and have lost and some Republican hack could have received 18% and won. And because each state has two senators, 18% of the electorate elects 51% of senators. Explain that to Cleisthenes.
We now have an active right-wing attack on voting itself, much of it racially motivated, but imperiling us all. And then, alas, we have the filibuster, which has almost made America ungovernable.
I want out. I’m tired of waking up to some crackpot ranting that COVID is a hoax, or vaccines don’t work, or masks are an assault on freedom, or that the 2020 election was stolen and Joe Biden is not really President, or that January 6 was just a peaceful gathering of fun-loving people.
While Trump has been diminished, we are surrounded by his supporters — Americans who voted for one of the most despicable men who ever strut upon the American stage, most of his supporters continue to believe — with no evidence — that he won. Most prefer superstition to science, many would apparently rather die than wear a mask or take a vaccine, and tens of millions believe cockamamie conspiracies. These people are not going away.
This woebegone predicament is likely to get worse. Moreover, our priorities as a nation seem perilously upside down. We spend more than twice the amount for healthcare as any developed nation and get the crappiest healthcare system in the world because the medical Establishment — mainly the drug companies — has Washington in its pocket. And that includes Biden.
We have among the worst economic disparities in the world — which are getting worse — a hollowed-out middle class, money overwhelming politics, and even the Democrats unable to do anything about any of this.
We are exiting Afghanistan, which is good, but the forces of the American imperium, which includes many Democrats, are actively bemoaning the fact that Afghans might actually rule Afghanistan. We still have a military budget almost ten times bigger than any other nation on earth and nearly 900 military bases girdling the globe. China, the big bogeyman, has none. China is taking over the world at amazing speed because they are strategic, not just belligerent. If you think the expensive debâcle of Afghanistan and Iraq will mean any rethinking of American foreign policy or scaling down our massive defense apparatus, you are going to be sorely disappointed. The forces of imperial expansion in America are robust and thriving despite the defeats of the past half-century.
If I were a young man, I might stay, but after fifty-plus years of social struggle, I think I have a right to take a rest, enjoy my success and have some fun with my family. America’s downward slide is terminal, and I do not have the energy or influence to have a major impact.
I’m moving to France, which has a vibrant middle-class, a real labor movement and twenty times less violent crime than America.
I say: Goodbye America; you won’t be missed.