I grew up believing that the government of the United States pretty much had things under control. We prevailed in World War II, put a man on the moon, did not engage in a shooting war with the Soviet Union and managed not to blow up the planet. Sure, there were some missteps, but overall, when I listened to Ronald Regan on the evening news, I felt confidant that the our leaders had things under control. After 9-11, I had the prickly feeling in the back of my head that I was wrong. Now, more than a decade later, events prove that when the government says “we’ve got this,” we should take that with a hearty grain of salt.
In the area of Northeast Florida where I live, gated neighborhoods have sprung up like weeds. Some have security guards out front, while others use automated gates. These gates make people feel safe behind their walls, and they pay hundreds of dollars per month in HOA fees to feel that way. It’s absurd, though, an illusion of security rather than the real thing. On any given day, in these sprawling McMansion neighborhoods, hundreds of construction workers, lawn crews, and house staff waltz through the gates. Many of these are undocumented workers, some, no doubt convicted felons. It amuses me. The United States is like one of these gated neighborhoods. We desperately want to believe in our own security and supremacy, and that when the government spokesman gets on the news and offers his assurances that there is nothing to worry about, he’s telling the truth.
We’ve learned that the FBI warned about the potential threat presented by the 9-11 terrorists. The government clearly did not have that under control. We went to war in Iraq because we believed that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. Whoops. (Now that the region has been destabilized by more than a decade of fighting, ISIL is an evil menace that makes Saddam look like a cute puppy.) We’ve yet to respond properly to that threat, in my humble opinion. I hope our leaders figure this one out before the enemy breaches the gates, because evil knocking, and it’s hungry.
When Katrina leveled New Orleans, it took days before FEMA arrived and any kind of order took place. We saw the bodies in the streets. The government didn’t have that under control. Not by a long shot.
Our embassies have been bombed and attacked around the world, despite warnings, costing American lives. One hand seldom knows what the other is doing, it seems.
A crazy guy with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, firearms, and knives in his car gets past the gates at the White house, and makes it all the way inside before he is finally subdued. Are you kidding me? The alarm had been muted because it annoyed the staff. The Secret Service clearly did not have that handled.
Ebola is now here in the United States, and the CDC is telling us not to worry about that. Yet we find that this guy in Texas was sent home by the hospital even after he told them he’d just come back from Africa. After he was diagnosed, local officials entered his apartment without wearing the proper protective gear. The U.S. has been staggeringly slow to respond to the crisis, and bungled the first known case on our own soil. So when I’m told not to worry, I laugh.
I’m not going to stay up at night wringing my hands. I love the United States, and we are a great nation, a great people, and there is a reason that the world still turns to us for help in time of need. But when they say, “we’ve got this,” I don’t believe it any more, not even for a minute.
“We hoped that clear heads would prevail. We were wrong.”