Bread And Circuses: America’s Growing Desire For Socialism

by Russell D. Longcore

(Author’s Note: This was written back in July 2009 and updated for the 2016 election season.)

The term “Bread and Circuses” is credited to Juvenal, a Roman writer and satirist* (AD 55-127). He was describing the Roman citizens’ enthusiasm for free food handouts and gladiatorial games at the Circus Maximus and later at the Colosseum. He felt that Romans had lost the capacity to govern themselves through their mindless self-gratification.

“Bread and Circuses” is a phrase that can accurately be used to describe the desires of the American population. Americans are so addicted to entertainment and personal pleasure that they ignore civic responsibility and gladly accept government authority with unflinching obedience.

Well, maybe some of us flinch a little. Reminds me of a bawdy story.

Three friends dared each other to go skydiving. They found a skydiving club and paid their money. After a short lesson, the instructor took them up to 8,000 feet and opened the door of the plane. The first two friends jumped, but the third friend was too scared.

The instructor yelled, “If you don’t jump right now, I’m going to rip off your pants, bend you over and have sex with you.”

“Did you jump?” his friends asked him later.

“Well yes…a little at first,” was his reply.

Americans jumped “a little at first” after the Revolutionary War and up into the mid-1800s. Shays’ Rebellion happened in 1787, The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions were written in 1798 an ’99 by Jefferson in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the Nullification Crisis happened in 1832. But by 1860, they were willing to allow Lincoln to make war upon the Confederate States of America and completely ignore the Constitution. It was all downhill from then until now.

Thankfully, there are still some American patriots that jump when someone tries to attack them from behind, so to speak.

Just as Juvenal observed in his day, so I believe that Americans have lost the capacity to govern themselves.

Actions speak louder than words. Stated another way, if you want to learn what people truly value, don’t listen to what they say, only watch what they do.

The majority of American citizens want socialism. They may say that they are against socialism but they continue to elect and re-elect politicians that enact socialistic laws and regulations. They do not storm Washington when those politicians violate the Constitution and commit treasonous, criminal acts. They do not impeach and prosecute the criminals in Washington.

The two remaining candidates for president for the Democrat Party are socialists. Bernie Sanders is not even a Democrat. He describes himself as a Socialist. And Mrs. Clinton supports most of the beliefs and proposals that Sanders is making. And in the Iowa Caucuses, the outcome was a statistical tie. Both candidates got HALF the votes.

But wait!! “How To Get Away With Murder” is on TV. “Star Wars” is in the theaters. The Super Bowl is Sunday, and baseball season is just around the corner.

America is on the auction block, and the Executive and Legislative branches of the Federal Government are the auctioneers. The American citizens expect their elected officials to “bring home the bacon,” which means get more Federal dollars coming back home than they are sending to Washington. American citizens want more than their share.

America wants socialism.

Over the past 100 years, American citizens have become addicted to the money that comes to them from Washington. It comes as fat defense contracts to little machine shops, farm subsidies, student loans, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, The GI Bill, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security…and the list goes on. Because most Americans have their taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks, they don’t feel the weight of their tax burden. So, it FEELS like benefits are flowing from Washington back to home.

America wants socialism.

In 2008 and 2009, the Federal Government nationalized the banking industry, the investment industry, a giant insurance company and part of the automobile industry. America barely made a peep.

America wants socialism.

The afore-mentioned Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the biggest entitlement programs in the history of the planet, have become as familiar as the air we breathe. Conservatives in Washington accepted the big social welfare programs long ago, and don’t lift a finger any more to fight against them…or even try to control their budgets. In fact, some of the biggest spending legislation ever enacted came from Washington while Conservatives controlled the House and Senate, and Republicans lived in the White House.

America wants socialism.

America totally forgave George Bush for lying the USA into a Middle East war. American has completely accepted an ever-expanding worldwide military, and embraced the wars in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. They festoon everything with yellow ribbons, and “support the troops”…even when the troops are murdering foreign civilians and violating the Constitution with their actions abroad. (By the way, a tenet of communism was to spread communism by military action. Americans think we’re trying to spread democracy.)

America wants socialism.

Washington politicians have gutted what was left of the Constitution since 2001. Individual liberties have been destroyed. The Patriot Act was enacted, the Transportation Safety Administration made airports into “no-rights zones,” and the Department of Homeland Security has vastly expanded its power over American citizens. All done with only a few whimpers and few objections.

America wants socialism.

The Obama Administration took over health care and health insurance in the USA. American citizens have watched the nation’s insurance companies destroy the health insurance industry. There are over 45 million Americans today without any health insurance at all. So, Obama and Congress had the political cover to do a government takeover. American citizens are exhausted from fighting to get health insurance. They want health insurance at any cost, and are willing to trust Uncle Sam to run the healthcare and health insurance system.

And the Republicans in the US House of Representatives and Senate vowed to repeal Obamacare. Now that they are the majority party in both houses, some Americans expected them to make good on their vow. But in the budget that was signed into law at the end of 2015, the Republicans made not a peep about it, and passed the largest budget in the history of mankind.

Americans want socialism. And Americans are getting socialism as quickly as Washington can deliver it.

I always used to think that America was being misused and abused by Washington. I have changed my thinking about that. I believe that Washington is simply giving America what it wants.

An America that still believed it was the master of DC, and not its slave, would rise up and end the socialism coming from Washington. Some might even entertain the idea of secession, and end the bread and circuses once and for all.

Perhaps the Washington politicos are the most astute observers of human behavior. They are certainly the best at survival.

Curious, though…that last sentence also aptly describes the relationship between a leech and its host. And a leech will feed on its host until the host dies.

America…you have the government that you desire…and the government you deserve.

*“It is hard NOT to write satire.” ~Juvenal, Roman satirist, writing about the Rome of his day.

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