The United States just celebrated another Independence Day and Americans everywhere sported their red, white, and blue while hosting celebrations and watching fireworks light up the night sky.
But, once that one day of American pride and unity settled, the issue remained that the country is on a downward spiral.
In recent years, police brutality, racial tensions, corruption and violence have been running rampant, nearly setting the United States back pre-Civil Rights era.
A laundry list of skeletons in America’s closet serves as evidence that the country’s values are on the decline.
Mass Shooting Epidemic:
The United States experienced its worst mass shooting in modern history on June 12 when Omar Mateen opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 innocent people and wounding 53 others.
While that incident, in itself, shows a serious problem, it is only one of several senseless acts of gun violence that have occurred since 2012’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that propelled the ongoing gun control debate.
Some of the deadliest mass shootings in the country occurred just within the last four years including the Charleston Church massacre, the Aurora, Colorado “Dark Knight” shooting, the Washington Navy Yard shooting, the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting, and the San Bernardino, California shooting.
The aforementioned events do not even include the smaller shootings that claimed fewer lives, but still devastated the country such as the WDBJ shooting in Virginia that occurred on live television, the Kalamazoo shooting, the Houston shooting, and the murder-suicide that took place on University of California Los Angeles’ (UCLA) campus, among countless others.
The very next day after Americans celebrated July 4, U.S. law enforcement claimed the life of yet another black civilian, Alton Sterling.
Body camera footage recorded the officers shooting the 37-year-old Baton Rouge man while he was lying on the ground — not posing a threat to them.
According to the police, Sterling was armed and they had been responding to a call that a man had threatened someone with a gun.
However, the convenience store owner where the incident took place said he wasn’t aware of any confrontation between Sterling and anyone else and Sterling was simply selling DVD’s and CD’s outside of the store, as he always did, when he was approached by the officers.
An investigation is underway, but public outrage has already been voiced and protests organized.
According to The Guardian, in just the first half of 2016, police have killed 558 people (including Sterling) with a vast majority being people of color.
Adding insult to injury, very few officers have been convicted of any charges following the killings. In fact, many of the shootings fly under the radar if there is no video footage to accompany a complaint.
The fact that this alarming issue persists has also increased racial tensions as black people are disproportionately affected. Meanwhile, there are racists who defend these officers’ actions.
Just recently, one of the six officers involved in the controversial death of Freddie Gray became the third to be acquitted of charges and countless Twitter users actually rejoiced.
The word “corrupt” is often associated with politicians and is nothing new to people who already strongly distrust the government; however, that doesn’t mean some of the most recent scandals were any less shocking.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, the Flint, Michigan water crisis, and the leaked Panama Papers all took America by storm and gave insight into how deep corruption truly runs.
In addition to those specific incidents, the entire 2016 presidential election has shined a spotlight on what our country’s “leaders” will stoop to for personal gain.
On the democratic side, the fact that Clinton came out victorious over Bernie Sanders in the presidential primaries despite the fact that she's run by millionaires revealed that money beats integrity.
The fight between Donald Trump and everyone else on the Republican side showed that furthering political status is more important than doing what’s best for the country.
Nearly all of the GOPers who were vehemently against Trump are now suckling at his teat, so to speak, in the name of “unifying the party” and in hopes of earning a seat on his cabinet, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former presidential candidate Ben Carson, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, among many others.
The Bottom Line:
Believe it or not, political corruption, police brutality, racial tensions, and gun violence only skim the surface of America’s deteriorating values. This has become the country’s “new normal.”
While public figures such as Donald Trump are perpetuating these problems and worsening them, he certainly did not create them.
His political success lies in the fact that he personifies the current state of America which is a combination of hate, violence, ignorance, greed, narcissism, bigotry, corruption, and cowardice.
The sad reality is that Americans facilitated the toxic environment in which someone like Trump can thrive. If this doesn't change, the future of our "united" states looks bleak.
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