Nobody likes to admit that they’re wrong. Not you. Not me. Nobody. Admitting you’re wrong is akin to defeat. Especially when you’ve argued you’re right about something. It takes a confident, logical and humble person to admit they’re wrong. We used to be taught the value of this character trait. We were told that losing was part of living, and that we stand to learn from all of our mistakes – so we should embrace each one. We were also taught that learning to lose helps make us better winners and more empathetic humans. Maybe they still do teach these kinds of things in small towns in Kansas – but the concept is not as prevalent in America as it once was. Today, it’s way more important to win. At any cost. Screw character. #winning

Here in the United States, we have a beautiful two-party system that was created by really smart guys a long time ago. Guys who understood the corruptive nature of absolute rule. And despite its flaws, the US represents the best democratic system on earth from which a republic operates. Sure, there might be little nations in the middle of the ocean that operate more efficient democracies, but we’re not them. We’re America – a nation of immigrants who pushed the indigenous to the brink of extinction by virtue of something politicians called manifest destiny. We’re 300 million high-strung badasses. And we are all wrong. We just won’t admit it.

I’m an unaffiliated voter and realize that there are bunch of us out there, but for the sake of argument let’s say that 50% of America is Republican and the other 50% is Democrat. Back when George W. Bush was President, things got really bad. Yes, bad things happened, but bad decisions were made during his presidency that caused us to go from a national budget surplus, to a deficit. A big deficit. A lot of us weren’t very happy, and so in November 2008, more people showed up at the polls on election day to hire a guy from a different political party. A guy who talked about shaking things up. Since he has taken over, this new guy has shaken some things up, but not a whole lot. And the main reason more hasn’t been done is because Congress – the other guys we vote into office to help POTUS make big decisions – can’t agree on what to let him do. Why? Because we don’t like to admit we’re wrong. Ever. That’s losing. And no one votes people into office to lose.

There are so many people upset right now, that it feels like 2008 (and 2010) all over again. As a result, next year a Republican may well get elected to serve as our President. But then, once again, because of partisanship, nothing good will happen and we’ll vote for new Congressmen in 2014 who will block anything the Republican President tries to do. This cycle will repeat itself over and over until a new enemy can be found so that we can focus our attention in that direction. Meanwhile, our roads, bridges, education system, welfare system, global trade, etc., etc., will continue to suffer. Eventually, this cycle of ineptitude will cause everything to come crashing down. All because of bickering. All because we never like to admit we’re wrong.

My family’s arrival in North America from Europe goes back a couple of centuries; I have voted in every Presidential election since Reagan’s second term (and voted Republican more times than Democrat); and I have proudly served in the US Armed Forces. I’m as American as anyone. But I’ve never felt as hopeless as I do now. This country is in the toilet and there’s no clear way out. Our forefathers handed us this amazing opportunity to compromise with each other for the good of us all – and all we can do now is take sides and point fingers. And at 47, I’m done with it. I just don’t have the energy to try to help fix what’s wrong here. Because it looks like it’s going to take a massive effort to get things right again. Frankly, I don’t see it becoming right in our lifetimes. Maybe I’m being selfish – I just want to live and be happy not have to worry about corporations deciding who is electable by dumping money and resources into the advertising campaigns of people who are sympathetic to their brands, so that when we’re in the voting booth and relying on brand recall instead of actual ideas – we vote for their guys (note: they’re all their guys). The reason this country can’t get anything done is because most of the population is being brainwashed by corporations. Even though corporations have no business in government. But they’re there. Deep. And they play on our fallibilities as humans who are dogmatic about politics because it takes too much brain power to actually consider and debate on ideas, and far easier to vote for a party because it’s the party of our parents. Damn the opposition, and all that.

There’s a misconception that America is too big to fail. Bullshit. America can fail the same way Rome did. And when it does, we’ll have only ourselves to blame. It’s ironic to me that in the United States, our borders are protected from most of the world’s evil because we have the biggest, most accurate guns on the planet – we just can’t protect ourselves from ourselves.

Something has happened here since when I was a child. The American dream seems to have shifted from opportunity for all, to merely trying to survive well enough to keep a roof over our heads. Like most parents, we want to give our children a better life than we had. But I no longer think that can happen in America. My hope is to get my family to a far simpler place – sooner than later. A place where  a dollar sign on a carrot isn’t the incentive to chase dreams. A place where we can actually give our children a future filled with promise rather than the burden of having to fix a system as complex as America’s. A system overspilling with bitter people who only want to be on a winning team at any cost. Even if that means the entire system collapsing.

And so the research to escape begins. For this American, anyway.


Jim Mitchem

I Could Never Get a Samsung. I'm Creative.
Soccer Dad

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.