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WhyNow's avatar

Are Americans losing their wariness of government?

Asked by WhyNow (1632points) 1 day ago

America was founded with a natural watchfulness of central gov.
We used to be anti “the man.”

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23 Answers

cookieman's avatar

I don’t think so. If anything, our wariness of government is plenty healthy. I don’t know anybody who trusts the government (state or federal; wholly or even a little). If anything, I hear a lot of blanket negativity — “They all suck/lie/steal, etc.”

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hat's avatar

When you refer to “the man”, you’re talking about an oppressive power. And yes, plenty of people are very wary of such oppression. They may take to the streets to oppose the state murdering people (such as BLM demonstrations) or oppose their tax dollars being used to murder people around the globe. But I suspect these are not fight’s against the right “man” for you.

I see capital as the largest global oppressor. And to the extent that governments are tools for global capital, I am opposed. Any power needs to justify its existence. Not just one, but perpetually. Daily. I do see plenty of pushback against a government that doesn’t even pretend to serve as a balance against power (capital) – but certainly not enough. The only way people can know about what is happening is via the channels (media, in all forms) that are owned and controlled by the very entity (capital) that is oppressing us.

And like I mentioned, there are times when people are looking at a government that can’t even guarantee basic human rights (female bodily autonomy, health care, housing, etc), and saying that this government has not met the criteria to justify its existence.

But what I suspect you are calling “the man” is that force that has the potential to guarantee rights and (at least nominally) fight against a larger power. The entire “states rights” push is really an effort to weaken the minimal control people have to fight against oppressive laws or the dystopian existence that is capitalism. When small, ineffectual states are left to push back against private capital, it is left with one option: give in. It’s a race to the bottom. And when small states are allowed to violate human rights, people who support a “states rights” model claim that no rights are being violated because you just move. So, we could literally have chattel slavery in this “country”, and right would be ok with it because it would be a “states rights” issue.

So, what is “the man” in the context of your question. Did I understand you correctly? Because most talk of fighting “the man” looks a lot like bootlicking when it comes from the right.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes and no. I’d say generally Republicans and Libertarians are very wary of central government, but will toss their worries aside if a beloved leader is in the central government.

Democrats seem to not associate central government with Trump and Marjorie Taylor Green, but they were/are indeed part of the central government. I think some Democrats idealize government too much during a time that lunatic politicians are making it into office.

Kropotkin's avatar

American attitude to central government is quite amusingly irrational to me.

The richest country in the world that can’t guarantee its people paid sick leave, paid vacation, or free healthcare, and many more things that even the shittiest right-wing European governments enforce—because that would somehow infringe on your individualism.

But sending Americans on wars half way across the world to kill brown people so Lockeed Martin and Raytheon’s (and dozens other contractors) values goes up? Thank you for your service!

I could only wish you guys were wary of your government, because it really doesn’t look like it to me.

malcomkade's avatar

@hat capital as in money? What society as ever operated without using money?
Also, how does leaving things up to the state lessen our control. Its a more localized vote. States dont decide what happens, voters do. You can’t burn down the system because more people voted for something you didn’t. Thats how democracy works. Get out in your community, talk to people, change minds and maybe people will vote like you.
Finally a state couldn’t just decide to bring back slavery if thats what your suggesting. Read the constitution.

freguarUK's avatar

@WhyNow. Genius question.
It is more correct to say that there is a correlation. The most ideal option is if every county in America had the right to impeach and also have the option to execute the president. I think the ruler should be the most influential person, but at the same time all human rights should be taken away from him.

WhyNow's avatar

How quickly we devolved to become partisan against the right. So I should blindly
(as in being blind) follow the Biden administration and the Biden family?

I’m very sure, Mr Hat you only give two shits about ‘female bodily autonomy’ to use
it as bludgeon against those you hate i.e. everybody except yourself.

Kropotkin yes… free free free! Just give us power! Because one day we will take it!
And it will be ugly. But how is this working out in communist countries you so love?
Like I should trust my healthcare (or my family) to a bureaucracy in some, any gov?

I agree with you tho, about Lockheed and Raytheon et al and so did trump.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Fear of the government for no resson is irrational. It’s the irrational conspiracy theorists who have that fear.

Kropotkin's avatar

@WhyNow I don’t know of any communist countries, and don’t love any country at all. I’ve a soft spot for Rojava, which is an autonomous region—does that count?

I’m fundamentally an anti-statist. Though, I will still back a sincere social-democrat who will use the power of the state to improve the conditions and well-being of ordinary people, like me, and presumably you.

The problem you have in the USA is not only that there are very few sincere social-democrats in politics, most Americans have been conditioned to oppose even the notion of the government doing good things for ordinary people.

Like the idea of not being screwed by insurance companies in healthcare provision, and just getting access to healthcare without the risk of bankruptcy or huge financial cost, means government bureaucrats are somehow involved in its provision. I mean, they’re not. Healthcare is still done by doctors and nurses, even in “communist” Cuba.

ragingloli's avatar

If anything, they are not wary enough, if at all, of corporations.
They willingly put corporate spy gadgets in their home, giving corporations unrestricted access to every aspect of their lives, down to the most intimate parts, having their entire existence converted to copious amounts of metadate, which gets fed into algorithms and converted into corporate propaganda, with the sole goal of turning people into good, compliant, consumerist puppets, and, using the power of economic violence, underfed, underpaid, overworked wage slaves without a way out, (except starving to death under a bridge), that feed the unending greed of CEOs and shareholders. And naturally, they do not even know that this is being done to them, and if they do, they do do not care at best, cheering it on at worst.

There is no functional difference between state tyranny, and corporate tyranny, but people have been brainwashed into embracing the latter, because being able to “vote with their money” for a different flavour of tyrant is somehow a measure of control over them, when all they are doing is picking the wolf that gets to tear their guts out.

kritiper's avatar

You make it sound as though all Americans are wary of their government.

flutherother's avatar

A wariness of government is good and healthy and part of the American system of government but it should be balanced, especially since 6 Jan, by a wariness of anarchy.

smudges's avatar

@malcomkade States dont decide what happens, voters do.

Voters don’t decide shit.

“Hillary Clinton really did win the nationwide popular vote — if not the presidency — by a considerable margin.” https://www.snopes.com/news/2016/11/13/who-won-the-popular-vote/

Sorry Dick and Jane from the ‘trust the govt. 1950’s’ – your vote doesn’t count afterall.

gorillapaws's avatar

The Republican playbook for the past half century has been to break the government and then use that as evidence that the government isn’t able to function and should be reduced to as small as possible (unless it calls for corporate welfare/bailouts caused by the market panics they created by deregulating the whole fucking thing, or to fund wars—then we can borrow all we want for our kids to pay back). I think we should all have a healthy concern with government power, especially in light of horrible things it has done in the past and continues to do.

That said, capitalism without a referee is truly fucked. You’ve basically devolved into a Neo-feudalism at that point—which is pretty close to where we’re at now. If you look at other countries, they’re proving that good governmental policies can succeed in improving the lives of its citizens and are better at providing the “American Dream” than America is.

malcomkade's avatar

@smudges That is because the electoral college was put in place to prevent candidates from only campaigning in large population sectors. Local elections don’t have the electoral college, they are determined by popular vote

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Anyone who understands history should be weary of any government, especially one that has become as big as ours.
Government spending and regulations are out of control and the idea that politicians have control over trillions of dollars of spending while simultaneously being allowed to invest in companies that benefit from it is insane and will always attract corrupt individuals.
At this point, our economy and most industries have become so dependent on enormous government spending that I don’t see how we turn this ship around without a collapse and complete reset. Although it sure seems that’s what some global organizations are going for…

gorillapaws's avatar

@malcomkade “That is because the electoral college was put in place to prevent candidates from only campaigning in large population sectors”

It also has the convenient effect of white people having their votes count more than people of color.

Demosthenes's avatar

Compared to when? The fact is that we rally behind big government when it suits us and claim “state’s rights” and complain about “the man” when it doesn’t. I don’t think the U.S. has ever been strongly principled against central government. It’s just something we like to tell ourselves during the times when the government is seen as more of a nuisance.

WhyNow's avatar

@gorillapaws I read that short vox thing. You may be correct in your premise but
you should, I think find better sources. This was so glaringly misleading. I would like to
break it down but since I have not been moderated for a whole minute! I need to
dry my eyes first.

kritiper's avatar

@gorillapaws How would vote counters determine what color a voter’s’s skin was??

gorillapaws's avatar

@kritiper They don’t. It’s just that in an Electoral College system some votes have a larger impact on the election outcome. It just so happens that the places where those votes have the largest impact are disproportionately white. Should that not be the case at some point in the future, I’m sure somebody will find a way to ensure the new areas where votes have a larger impact on the election outcomes will also happen to be white (just a hunch).

smudges's avatar

@malcomkade Local elections don’t have the electoral college, they are determined by popular vote

According to my answer, I obviously wasn’t referring to local elections. I think the OP was asking about federal govt.

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