There is no “United” States of America – there is, in fact, two Americas.
First America is flourishing. It consists of corporate executives, CEOs, managers, supervisors, police chiefs, military generals, bankers, politicians, physicians, judges, lobbyists, investors, administrators, and lawyers. 400 First Americans have more cash, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Second Americans combined. On December 31, 2013, First Americans saw their Dow Jones Industrial average – a reliable indicator of corporate well-being – reach its highest point ever at 16, 576.66. First Americans have enjoyed unprecedented growth over the past thirty years, including a 20% growth rate in 2012 alone. And the US government, which consists of and represents First Americans, has reaped its own rewards as its members have become multi-millionaires in the process. First Americans have a monstrous, $682-billion military and defense apparatus (whose ranks are bloated with Second Americans), a police force that includes nearly 1 million officers (again, Second Americans) spread across the country, and an intricate and exclusive offshore banking system at their disposal.
Second America, whose population is over 300 million, is destitute. Second Americans struggle with chronic joblessness, underemployment, homelessness, crippling debt, and a general lack of resources. Over 46 million households in Second America live in poverty. 40% of all Second Americans experience poverty at least once in their lifetime. Since 1990, the cost of living for Second America has risen 67%, while wages and income have barely moved and, in many cases, have become increasingly hard to come by. In a futile attempt to seek a better life, Second Americans have accumulated over $1.2 trillion in student loan debt owed to First American banks. Second Americans have also been forced to fund trillions of dollars of government bailouts awarded to First America. Second Americans, especially people of color, are brutalized and killed by First American police forces almost daily. Second Americans who are lucky enough to maintain jobs and own homes have seen their work hours increase, while their income and home values have decreased. Due to chronic joblessness and non-existent opportunities, over 151 million Second Americans are forced to rely on public assistance to get by; and 49 million must rely on food stamps to feed themselves and their children.
If the “United” States of America is indeed a figment of our imagination, what purpose do its famed documents – the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and US Constitution – serve? What does the American flag symbolize? What does ‘patriotism’ even mean? Whose country is this?