New York City was the home to the world's fare in 1939. The event talked about years afterwards at the time exhibited the life of tomorrow, the beginning of the Americans thought to be the great society. By 1939 Americans had ten years of economic depression, which continued to linger on. They increasingly were becoming anxious about the war brewing in Europe and our country's possible involvement. A bright sunny future, including the introduction of television brighten their outlook.
As the eventual war began to wind down in 1944 Americans starting talking about a post war period. A return to the 1930s was greatly feared. The talk of a great society surfaced again, including by FDR himself. In a nutshell the promise held that any engaged and contributing American could expect financial safety, security and prosperity. Later in the mid 1960s the great society was altered to include African Americans.
While parts of the great society vision have certainly come true and remain so, much of the vision has been or has become a dismal failure. There are many reasons but our government's never ending quest for world hegemony is one of the major failing points.
In 1945 before the ink on the Japanese surrender papers had dried and while young men were still coming home in body bags the next "monster" was being hatched. The Nazis and Nips (as they were called) were immediately replaced by the "commies" or "ruskies." America in the eyes of a few needed a constant enemy.
Since 1945 we've had few years of peace even though WW2 was to be the war to end all future wars. Eisenhower understood the implications and warned us in 1961 as he left office. Little attention was paid to his meaning. JFK was thought to have intentions of reigning in the military state in his second term but never lived to see a second term.
This never ending quest for world dominance initially span the cold war, the massive arms race, the Korean and Vietnam Wars as well as the skirmishes of the 1980s. Eventually 45 years later communism fell and the enemy was dead. Throughout the 1990s the conflicts and skirmishes continued as well as the spying and regime change. Most Americans were in bliss to what its government was doing to invoke and maintain hegemony. 1991 saw a brief war which was the genesis of the war machine coming back to life after Vietnam.
September 11, 2001 changed the dynamic. America had a clear new boogeyman and this one was far more menacing than the commies. Since then its been non stop war and conflicts as the US has planted itself inside the Middle East.
All told these near 75 years have costs trillions. If the US had simply built a military adequate to protect its borders and allowed others to do what they see fit in their own lands think of what could have been saved or put to use maintaining and upgrading America. Would we have (real) full employment? Would have the American Dream and social mobility remain the hallmark of American exceptionalism? Would we be a country more at peace with ourselves? Would we be the country leading with 21st technology, infrastructure and education?
In short, would more of the great society had come true and remained true. Have we squandered trillions trying to rule the world, with little success? Would we be a nation with a war chest of cash and little debt? Every year we hand over with on and off budget more than a trillion to the war machine. That's well more combined than the next seven countries. Are those seven countries that much of a threat? Since it only takes one high grade nuclear weapon to destroy the world why do we have so many?
The great society launched in 1939 premiered a better world and for us a better country. We as a nation have the drive and talent to make the dream into reality but we've been sidetracked. We've sunk precious and limited resources into fighting invisible and vague enemies.
The great society now dies and with it the dreams of what this country could have been.