How Bad Does It Have to Get?

Murders, street crime, white-collar crime, shoplifting, trespassing, abuse of power, illegal drugs, legal drugs, illegal immigration and open borders, election-tampering, institutional decay, homelessness, illiteracy, phony racism, real racism, corrupt politicians, vengeful district attorneys, child abuse, domestic partner abuse, disregard for human life, a weakened military, the rise of authoritarianism, expanding ignorance, AI, CRT, DIE, poverty, inflation, radical environmentalism, gender fluidity, lowered standards and weakened values, flight from personal responsibility, death of the meritocracy...the list goes on, and it's getting bigger by the day.

President Ronald Reagan described America as a shining city on a hill.  It is now an endless loop of Escape from New York and Clockwork Orange.  We swing on a political pendulum every two to four years.  Back and forth we go, never advancing.  Half the nation is always angry, frustrated, disappointed, dejected, demoralized, and depressed, while the other half celebrate their victories until it's their turn.

Those of us who mourn the passing of the Greatest Generation and everything it stood and fought for are, ourselves, fading away.  Some of us still find the strength to push back, but our numbers are declining.  Some of us are packing up and looking for a safe haven, where we can practice our religion and practice our values without apologizing for them or having to explain them to people without any.

The world today is not our world.  Not that we thought it would remain unchanged — we knew that we would have to say goodbye to the transitory things that served to characterize our time on Earth, but we never dreamed that we would find ourselves stateless beings, living in a world of digital domination and artificial intelligence.  Nor did we think the unborn or the unwanted could be discarded like yesterday's newspaper or that we would be glorifying deviants or deviant behavior.

Those of us who've lived through wars or fought them and have taken lives in the process cannot fathom why our nation would want to commit us to more of the same or that we'd happily supply other countries with the firepower to fight proxy wars while we claim "solidarity" with their cause in the safe space of Facebook.  Our complacency, laziness, or ignorance of the consequences of inaction has emboldened the darker angels of our nation to attack our liberties, to remove our possessions and our hope from us without our permission.  And instead of rising up and demanding personal accountability and the fair and consistent application of our laws to lawbreakers, we absolve the perpetrators as "victims of an unfair and racist society."  Our childlike faith in institutions like our schools has been rewarded with the implementation of radical racial theories by ideologues masquerading as teachers and school boards.

We've allowed our cities to become open sewers of human misery and Petri dishes for criminal incursion, with rampant drug abuse in makeshift encampments on once safe and clean streets.  We excuse the behavior of the "citizens" of these "villages" by allowing them to steal up $999 of goods from local stores without punishment.  (After all, they are more to be pitied than censured in today's America.)  We are condoning the mutilation of our children if they express the slightest behavior that is inconsistent with their sex, and our doctors and hospitals are more than willing to do the dirty work of slicing off little girls' breasts or providing them with re-gendering medication that will halt their normal puberty.  We have told our young sons that they are exhibiting "toxic masculinity" if they show strength on the football field or if they dare to pick up a hunting rifle or roughhouse on the front lawn with their friends.

Free speech is as extinct as the stegosaurus — at least speech that would contradict or question the prevailing wisdom of our government's decisions.  And just to make sure that any "disagreeable" speech doesn’t "confuse," us we've allowed our media and social media to kneecap it.  Any speech that might get through the "filter" will find itself and its host under investigation by our government.

"Guns kill people," we're told, so guns must be eliminated.  Drugs, on the other hand, kill people, but they are allowed to proliferate and are even sanctioned by local and state governments.  "Light up that reefer" if you wish in 38 states.  "It's good for you," but you'd better not fire up a Cohiba.  Think of the damage to your lungs, not to mention the effects of secondhand smoke!

Hypocrisy is now America's potentate, and we must all bow deeply to it and not call it out.  That would be unpatriotic.  So forget about investigating Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, and any election wrongdoing.  That goes for any government official who doesn’t do his or her job or know how to do his job.  Are you listening, Pete Buttigieg, Deb Haaland, Billy Nolan, Jennifer Granholm, Xavier Becerra, and Kamala Harris?    

The truth is, we have become bosom buddies with mediocrity and mendacity.  We have sat on the sidelines and watched qualified people be replaced by numbskulls who possess the right identity-politics credentials.  "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" should be our motto instead of E Pluribus Unum.  We've also stood idly by while young radicals and aging Progressive hippies have torn down our national monuments and have watched them put pen to paper, rewriting our history books, blotting out the "uncomfortable" details.

Snake Plisskin was hired to find the downed U.S. president in a lawless New York City of the future, and Alex DeLarge terrorized innocent people with his "droogs" in a dismal dystopian England.  Though separated by a few thousand miles, each had something in common.  They were products of a future gone mad — a future that is eerily close to reality in these United States today.

Before artificial intelligence takes over and convinces us that all of our problems are just a mirage in a lead-up to the 2024 elections, it might be wise to do a little stock-taking about just whom and what are to blame for the state of our precious Union.  The alternative is to do nothing and watch it all slowly disintegrate.  In that case, I would recommend renewing your passport.

Stephan Helgesen is a retired career U.S. diplomat who lived and worked in 30 countries for 25 years during the Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush administrations.  He is the author of thirteen books, six of which are on American politics, and has written over 1,300 articles on politics, economics, and social trends.  He operates a political news story aggregator website,  He can be reached at

Image: Michael Theis via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0.

If you experience technical problems, please write to