Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

What’s Going On?

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The tombstone captioned above signifies that American Democracy has already died and buried but I believe we have a living chance to save it from real death.

The late great Marvin Gaye wrote a song which became the anthem of generations of Americans in the 1970’s and one of the most influential recordings in the history of American popular music.

“What’s Going On,” still resonates more than ever today as we question what’s happening to our country and search for the clinical truths and deeper meanings of why we can’t finally create a society which cares for all of its people so “we can all get along.”

Marvin Gaye’s poignant message poses directly and indirectly some fundamental questions about our continuing self-inflicted wounds and the resulting traumas of social dislocation and political alienation and how we might peacefully and constructively come to terms with them.

Why do we still so vigorously and self-righteously sow hatred, conflict, division and destruction causing pain and grief in a country which still has so much more love to give and so much more good to do?

Why do we continue to battle each other over who deserves their rights as free people in a free country?

How can a country so rich and great be so spiteful, hurtful and resentful of the people who need the greatest help?

“What’s Going On” calls on all Americans to search the deeper realities of their present existence to discover how we all can finally unite, live together, respect each other, study hatred, predatory greed and war no more and finally create a just and lasting peace in our country and world.

We made great progress during the sixties and seventies by courageously facing, calling out, and bravely overcoming many of the conflicts among various racial and ethnic groups, but we now appear to be moving full circle as the ugly resurgence of race-based hatred and violence have once again set upon us with a vengeance.

The continuing strife and divisions are detrimental to us all but now seem to be mutating into wars on our Democratic Constitutional Republic and the American way of life.

When Marvin Gaye wrote this beautiful song as a call for more peace and love in our country, many people still held out hope that their government would stand with them in securing voting rights and basic civil and human rights. As we met head on the various challenges and trials of our era, and as ethnic, gender and racial groups in this nation trying to find our voices and pave our way, we sought the help of our government to effect equitable legislation, ala Lyndon Baines Johnson, Dr. Martin Luther King, and other government officials, activists and others committed to the struggle of humanity which would finally grant true hard won measures of freedom, justice and equality to generations of Americans who never before had them or could call them their very own.

Today that struggle continues.

Said one man who was recently overheard in a conversation with another man,  “The last time your people fought for your rights, you got them with the help of your government. This time we will attack those same rights and replace your government with one that will no longer protect and defend you.”

Now as our very own representative democratic government seems to be snatched right from under us by voter suppression, collusion with our enemies and by politicians who would rather obviate and obliterate the very foundations and structures of our constitutional principles and rules of law, rather than help the American people, the question remains, What’s really going on?

What’s really going on as we come to terms with what appears to be a “terrible take down of democracy,”with its mindless cruelties, re-surging brutalities, rancorous attacks and uncivil objurgations aimed mostly at Americans, and those seeking asylum in America, and also toward our own government, which in our current political psychology and public political discourse seems to manifest more aberrant forms of political bi-polarism.

Has the war against our adversaries turned into a war on the American people and our government and its cherished institutions which albeit imperfect still remain with the American people the true guardians of our Democratic Constitutional Republic?

Meanwhile as the killing, harming, and maiming of white Americans, people of color, immigrants, Latinos and people different and other shamefully escalate, and as politicians fail to implement viable legislation against a virtually all-powerful gun lobby and their lobbyists, American Democracy appears to be staggering on the brink of extinction.

As we watch this unholy unleashing unfold with its constant and needless debasing of various Americans, we are now asking as never before, what’s really going on?

What powers behind the thrones of power are orchestrating and puppeteering our current political dissension and demise causing us to not only lose our lives but to lose democracy altogether and forever?

Meanwhile as Americans are consumed and exhausted by the constant verbal barrages of President Trump in the media which manufactures its own habituating forms of distraction and diversion, one wonders what’s really going on behind the closed doors of decision making in the Oval Office and other high places which may be far worse than we ever imagined, and possessing far deeper ramifications and complications not so easily reversed once Trump is out of office.

How is it then that bold and brazen outsiders can just sashe into this country and meddle in our elections? How is it that public lands are being sold off to corporations and decisions which protect the environment and our long term health and viability are being insidiously denied and privately repealed?

At this moment, it appears that our only hope will be the American people, Democrats, Progressives, Populists, true Radical Conservatives, and perhaps even the likes of Bilbo Baggins and T’ Chakia, all pushing an agenda toward political reckoning which will at long last hold Donald J. Trump and his political cohorts accountable for helping to create and expedite our frenetic descent into political maelstrom.

And while we are incessantly mesmerized and hypnotized with the media’s laser focus on Donald Trump the man, and as we zoom in on what he says and how he says it, what he does and to whom he does it, some people still appear shocked and awed as they hang on the president’s every word and seem energized and emboldened by the Presidents insults and attacks on non-white people, women, immigrants and other so-called expendables.

Could it be that we are now too cloyed by the frivolities and inanities; too zombified by the president’s snake oil charms, too bumfuzzled and bamboozled by his words and soundbites, and all “the varnish nonsense with the charms of sound?”(Charles Churchill)

Have we become so completely entranced and mummified by his “soft” words, “soft” speeches and “soft” lies (Langston Hughes) that we have co-sponsored the ritual entombment of our own legitimate protests so that we only live to look forward to the continuing road shows of paddy cake and pretty- pity parties of how America is getting so much greater again when that ain’t particularly so under the current watch of this presidency?

Meanwhile as we monotonically gaze at the spectacle unfolding before us, have we become so jellified, hoodwinked, and spell bound that we no longer care to ask what’s really going on in America and where we are really headed?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a pessimist prophesying the doom and gloom of America. I still have much hope that positive change will finally take root and spread wonderfully to get us through our current trials and storms. I am a true believer. But I am paying attention. I am analyzing, re-analyzing and rethinking what’s happening to our country. I am still woke.

As a student of history and as a bonafide American, I am zeroing in on the fizzizzle on front street and backstreet, on main street and on the side streets of America to find out what’s really going on and how it all resembles the fizzwizzle of other power takeovers and government breakdowns in world history.

Numerous electronic and print media persons have tried to break the spell by heroically ferreting out the truth of the Trump presidency. Many have openly called out the President for his behavior by daring to question his scruples even at the risk of their own reputations and careers.

But with all the stonewalling and resistance to government inquiries and investigations, and all the hesitation and prevarication thwarting the flow of vital information to Congress, and with all the boisterous silence of some lockjaw Republicans and the quiet suppression of those who try to speak up and speak out, the question is what’s really going on?

Is the President hiding something? Why so much resistance? If there’s nothing to hide, why are such extraordinary efforts taken to squirrel away the most basic and crucial information which may perhaps unlock the real truth of the Trump presidency and possibly save America?

Are we lapsing into inertia with a kind of cult-of-personality media coverage? Why do we keep remembering what doesn’t need to be remembered and continue spotlight and showcase the dress rehearsals of the perpetual daily bombast? Is this what the President means by “Fake News?” Have we been bombarded ad nausea with the same blather over and over and over and over again so that the word “more,” really means “never more” again?  But what more can we ingest?

Must Americans keep listening to and rehashing the same stuff which is then rehashed with more hash and other dash added to our already too overloaded plates?

How do media persons put this stuff out day after day after day with such straight faces? I feel for them. They too must be hurting inside about what’s happening to America and tired of it all, but probably can’t just say openly what they really want to say.

But some in the print and electronic media do tell it like it is by getting right down to the real nitty-gritty: Chris Hedges, David Corn, Jason Johnson, Eugene Robinson, Mark Thompson, Matt Taibbi, Joe Madison, Roland Martin, Thom Hartmann, Michael Steele, Karen Hunter, Zerlina Maxwell, Laura Coates, Ari Melber, Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzales, Karine Jean-Pierre, Jonathan Capehart, Rachel Maddow, Nicole Wallace, John Heileman, Joy Reid, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell,  Richard Painter, Paul Butler, Barbara McQuade, Joyce White Vance, Al Sharpton, Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, Joe and Nika Scarborough, Chuck Todd, Mike Barnacle, Mike Schmidt, Philip Rucker, along with other journalists and scholars Richard Haass, Timothy Snyder, Dr. Cornell West, Dr. Christina Greer, Jon Meacham, George Will, Max Boot, Dr.Michael Eric Dyson, Lawrence Tribe, Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., Norm Ornstein, E. J. Dionne, Jonathan Capehart, Jane Mayer, Nancy McLean, David Frum, Charlie Sykes, Malcolm Nance, Michelle Goldberg, Heidi Prezybyla, Armstrong Williams, Shermichael Singleton, Dennis Marker, Steven Livitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, to name a tiny number, who put it all out there so even the “goats can get it.” They share a variety of viewpoints but are right on with their analyses and their willingness to seek and speak the truth.

So what’s really going on? Is what we’re witnessing not so much the America that is not yet but the America that now really is? Have these seismic shifts in our Constitutional Democratic Republic now become permanently ossified and tomb-sealed in stone?

We must keep watch to know what’s going on and to find out what’s really going on; by maintaining our curiosity, stubbornly pursuing the truth, taking peaceful action and, in the modified words of Howard Beale, becoming “mad as hell” because we’re not going to take it anymore.

Meanwhile we have been thoroughly waylaid and awash in the schadenfreude, the “joie maligne” (French) and “regodeo” (Spanish.), with the never ending public blusters leading to the private blisters; and the public outbreaks and private intakes of the hell-broth. Why not spend more time extracting other vital information from all the other snollygosters both resident and earth orbiting?

Will there now be media white-outs, more costumed processions in full Halloween regalia at Congressional hearings and public proceedings? Will black robes be the new wardrobes of all Americans, wardens, judges, politicians, confused, courageous and cloistered clergy in the new America as we mourn, lament and funeralize a country that once was?

Have we come to bury Caesar, or to praise him?

What joyless mess we seem to be making of a great country as we move from the sublime to the supine. Is this what this brilliant, majestic and imperfect experiment called American Liberal Democracy and our American Democratic Constitutional Republic have all finally come to?

How about more cutting and pasting of film rolls? How about more outtakes than intakes of what’s really going on? Can we sift through the thoughtless debris of mind reeling, thought numbing, suffocating surrealism until we take the necessary steps to get real information about what’s really going on to get our country back on the right track to true freedom in a real organic democracy for all?

Don’t get me wrong. We thank God for the Fourth Estate. Without them, we have no real democracy. But can’t we add more substance by spending more time determining what’s really going on in America? Do we need more show time with our president? How much more of this can we take?

Many journalists are hard at work excavating “the facts and nothing but the facts” but what other vital information are still hanging out there? What more do we need to know about what’s really going on? Is there still “something behind the something” that will ultimately explain what this all means?

Simply responding by saying in the words of some people who are half paying attention to it all; “This too shall pass,” or” Just let things take their course” or other admonitions like”Take things at face value and don’t go too deep with it,”are helpful, but not enough to pacify our deeper instincts and yearnings to know the truth.

We must not turn back. We have too many more rivers to cross and too many more mountains to climb. We have come too far as a nation to turn back now or to throw in the towels of defeat.

We must not allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep by the uni-quack, the apathy, indifference and our continued routinization. What we now are experiencing should never be normalized and should never be finally accepted as the new American way of life because once that happens, the same forces which have created and set in motion these monumental changes, will take more and more and more until there’s nothing left of us or our freedoms or our sovereignty as free individuals and as a thriving free nation. We must strive to live out our dreams and keep them ever alive by creating a greater and more compassionate nation which makes America better for all.

The Washington Post says “Democracy dies in darkness.”

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

God bless America and God bless us all.


2 responses to “What’s Going On?”

  1. Brent M. Williams Avatar
    Brent M. Williams

    Brilliant! Accurate. Sobering, Stinging Truth!

    1. Carlyle Fielding Stewart III Avatar
      Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

      Thanks Brent for your thoughtful comments!

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