Merry Christmas, America
T. CHASE MEACHAM

Dear Santa,

I’m not gonna lie. This year has been a slog. America’s not doing too hot these days, which is ironic given how hot it is these days. I used to be the strongest, greatest, most morally un-corruptible; now I’m the fattest, slowest, most economically untenable. The good days seem distant now. In those days I was smugly over-confident, like the Protestants who governed me, exerting my influence with a soft voice and a mighty thick stick.

These days, my stick has shrunk and my voice is shrill.

Donald Trump at 2017 CPAC (Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

Donald J. Trump at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference | Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

These days it’s all division, rampant and omnipresent. And unlike every other era of rampant division, there’s an Internet now, and suddenly people are aware of how shitty all the other people are, and everyone’s pissed off.

And as you well know, we have a new president these days. I know you know because I saw your absentee ballot and I know you voted for the motherfucker. Now, as is custom, I try to remain impartial to whatever jerkoff’s sitting in my oval. I sit tight and let him do as he pleases and make himself at home, then eventually he’ll finish and move the fuck on. So it was and is and shall be — but this one, though. Jesus Christ.

So basically, this shit’s a mess, and I’m probably on your naughty list this year. After all, I’m apparently the only country that doesn’t give a polar fuck about the environment. I’ve embarrassed myself repeatedly on the global stage. I’ve invigorated a whole new class of populist politics that’s really doing a number on the countries that have immigrants.

And yeah, I know I’ve always done these things, sure, but somehow it always seemed that when I had a bigger stick, people would be polite about it. Now everyone’s as judgmental as France and I’m a laughing stock — isolated, underrepresented, and frustrated that the past seems better than the present.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if I were on your naughty list this year. I’ve enflamed tensions. I’ve exaggerated divisions. I’ve turned away the tired, poor, and huddled masses, and lowered my light to better warm my own masses here ashore. I’m not saying I’m proud of it.

In many ways, I feel at a crossroads. I’ve got those hotshots in China stepping up their game, I’ve got the EU acting high and mighty, and I’ve got a cantankerous and heavily-armed militia here at home that seems increasingly out of control.

So this year, Santa, as I have in the past, I’m turning to you. I want you to cut us a break — I really think we’re due — and I’m sending you my list. I don’t think it’s so much to ask.

1. Better Democracy

Benjamin Franklin's infamous "Join or Die" cartoon from 1754 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Benjamin Franklin’s infamous “Join or Die” cartoon from 1754 | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Is this really what the end game was? THIS?? Democracy is like my thing. We did democracy and we did it first and it was like the hottest shit. We turned it from a Frenchman’s wet dream into a colonialist’s excuse to be self-righteous while systemically disenfranchising the indigenous and the poor and the women and the non-whites and the witches and the Catholics. And you know what? It got better! We worked it and shaped it and made it pretty okay, and moderately fair.

Then came populism, and holy hell. It’s like democratic kryptonite. Give me a couple demagogues with micropenises and daddy issues, and I’ll show you some mighty fucked-up elections.

Yes, I know we’ve had this conversation before. When the whole democracy thing was getting started I was worried, too, and I wrote you and I said, “Oh Santa, won’t you please give us an opaque and highly obfuscated institution for us to use to override the whims of an uninformed electorate?” And you said, “SURE, I know!” And BAM, you whipped out the electoral college and you stuck it in the back of your sleigh and you rode it down here. You even covered the unpacking and set up costs — out of benevolence — and BOY, were we appreciative. Thanks, Santa. You men really know how to stick together when the going gets tough.

Except that was a different time — when the populists couldn’t vote and the partisanship was palatable. This is now, and shit’s broken.

So we’ll let you make it up to us. Maybe you can send down some proportional voting with some extra parties. Or maybe a Queen. I don’t know. But this whole project is beginning to look a lot like Rome and it needs some shaping up.

Also, please: open primaries, easier voting, and responsible campaign finance reform.

Is that so much to ask?

2. Better Internet

If ever it were possible to have something truly disappoint as much as democracy, surely it’s the Internet. You know better than any of us what it’s like to compete against Amazon, so I’m sure you know.

This is like, also our thing. Democracy and the Internet. These are the best things we’ve ever done. Our sterling exports. We made democracy and we made the Internet, and then we exported the shit out of them both in the spirit of imperialism. Then we stood by and watched as the two slowly destroyed each other until they both became twin peaks of a single giant oligarchy.

I think we’re open to new ideas from up North. Something free and fair and open, we hope, which in some ways it was until 2017. And I know we’ve had this conversation before, too. When the whole Internet thing was getting started I was worried, and I wrote to you and I said, “Oh Santa, won’t you please give us an opaque and highly obfuscated system such that Internet Service Providers can lay their wires underground without ripping up the roads or crisscrossing their cables wherever they please?” and you said, “SURE, I know!” And BAM, you whipped out a labyrinthine system of public-private partnerships and city-sanctioned monopolies between Internet providers and local governments. Now you didn’t set that one up, but you dropped the idea in enough lobbyist stockings that eventually it became real, and BOY, were we appreciative. Thanks, Santa. You monopolists really know how to stick together when the going gets tough.

Baby Surfing the Internet

Except that was a different time — when the Internet wasn’t everything to everyone. So we’ll let you make it up to us. Maybe you can make it a place with more joy and less rage. More humanity, kinder on democracy, more generous towards dialogue. Less fever pitch. More contemplation. A place where the better sides of people are encouraged, and their darker selves suppressed.

Also, please: net neutrality, platform transparency, and the right amount of free speech with a minimal amount of hate speech.

Is that so much to ask?

3. Better Government

Now, I know I’ve asked you for help on this before. I think about every year I ask you for a fix, and I have to say, your proposed solutions have been unsatisfactory:

Original 1776 design for the Great Seal by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Original 1776 design of the U.S. Great Seal, by Pierre Eugene du Simietere | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Now, maybe it’s because you run a sprawling forced-labor autocracy at the top of the world, but it seems like you don’t really get out whole e pluribus thing. Boy, you strongmen really know how to stick together when the going gets tough.

So we’ll let you make it up to us with basically anything. Here’s what I’m thinking. So for this, I’m picturing: less partisanship, less in-fighting, less show-downs, less grand-standing, less money, less special interests, less bitterness, less Republicans, less Democrats, less capitalism, less fracking, less patriarchy, less populism, less race-baiting, less sexism, less manipulation, less jerkoffs, less voter restriction, less workplace harassment, fewer men.

Is that so much to ask?

So, Santa. Ball’s in your court this year. Everything’s sort of a mess down here but your merry little monarchy is looking mighty nice right about now. I know in the past your help has been a little unsatisfactory, but there was that one time in the 1970’s when you sent us Watergate, and that was pretty epic. So fuck it, I still believe in you.

Merry Christmas,
America

December 1, 2041

 





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