Home Whither Goest Thou, America?
Home Whither Goest Thou, America?

Whither Goest Thou, America?

"Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?" Jack Kerouac asked in On the Road That was the Fifties. That shiny car is pretty beat up these days. It's supposed to get 100 miles to the gallon, so long as the temperature never drops below 75 and the gasoline has additives like the joy of children and the smiles of unicorns. And you can't buy the car because you can't get approved for that loan. Instead you ride a bicycle, pedaling furiously, dodging trucks delivering goods from factories in Shanghai, on your way to a job that may not last.

"What do we want" is the ritual chant of every political assembly. The RNC's chant is jobs. The DNC's chant is abortion. Both are solutions of a sort. There are two ways to tackle unemployment. You can either make more jobs or make less people. If you make more jobs then families will make more little people and be able to afford them. If you make less people, then singles will be more economically secure but unable to start families.

"Whither goest thou, America," the pollsters and pundits asked the country four years ago. And the answer was a superwide highway lined with shovel-ready jobs and a new era in history. We drove on that highway and went as fast as we could, and still we could not escape the blight in every direction. The faster we drove, the worse it got. The gasoline cost a fortune and there were no jobs to be found to pay for it.

As night gave way not to morning but a sullen overclouded dusk, we realized that we had taken the wrong road. We were no longer in America anymore. Maybe we were in Mexico or Pakistan. It was hard to say where exactly the dark highway had taken us, but the place we were at now was not the place we wanted to be.

Down the road was a strange place rife with political corruption, everyone had a hand out for a bribe and there was no longer a highway, just a million dirt roads segregated by race and gender, by class and creed, where all the drivers are angry all the time and the traffic cops are there to spread the misery in equal proportion. It might be Russia or Ecuador, it might be anywhere, but it's not America.

Here we are now in our car in the night. Outside the vista is strange. There are shootings and mosques, and everyone around us is talking about racism or abortion, about the 1 percent and the 99 percent, about carbon credits and iftar dinners, about a great struggle between "us" and "them" and we realize that we are the "them". On this dark road, we are the enemy of a country that no longer looks like America anymore. And the ones talking, they're the only ones who have jobs, and their job is denouncing us.

What most people, regardless of political affiliation, really want to do is go home to a country that works. No matter what we are told, most of us still have a faint memory of a home lost in time. A place where there were jobs and shiny cars and affordable meals. A place where there didn't have to be a cop on every block or a bureaucrat behind every desk. A place where everyone didn't spend all their time accusing everyone else of taking more than their fair share. We used to call that place, America.

It's dark out, and finding the way back to America isn't easy. Somewhere along the way we forgot how to read maps or we were taught to read them the wrong way. When we look at a map, we no longer see directions, we see whom to blame because the directions aren't clearer. We don't know what a mile is, but we know that our ancestors probably stole it from somebody or manufactured it using pollutants and racism. We don't even know what America is anymore, so how can we get there?

Somewhere along the road, we are coming to realize that America is not just a place, it's also an identity. To get there, we cannot simply drive until we reach the border, because borders are fluid things. What was once Mexico became Texas. What is now Texas is becoming Mexico. The borders of nations are legal entities but they are only roads. It is where we go along those roads that matters.

The question that confronts us is not where are we going, but who do we want to be? The public has been trained to ask politicians for things, to wait until politicians promise those things, to disbelieve them and then vote for them anyway. This is the road that we are on, and it is little wonder that among all the twists and turns, between the hog farms and the dumps, we ended up in this strange place. A place that really isn't as strange as it seems because we have been headed here all along.

This dark road we are on now is what happens when the people who have been trying to run our lives for the last hundred years finally got their way. That darkness is there because they tore up the flag, burned the Constitution and put themselves in charge of everything. This is what they have been trying to do for over a hundred years. Now they have finally done it. They have put out the lights and left us in darkness and now they stride out grinning on an empty stage, beckoning us further and deeper into the darkness until there is no way out.

The place they want to take us has no shiny cars, it has no cars at all unless they are being driven by government types. It has no hope or change, no freedom, no dreams and no fathers. In that darkness it takes a village to badly raise a broken child and five hours of standing on line to get Permit A to get Permit B to do Item C and then spend tomorrow waiting on line for Permit D.

The men and women waiting in that darkness have blank faces and big rule books. They have a law for everything, and you already broke a dozen of them just by being born. They tell you that you can park your car here by the side of the collapsed building. "There's no more road here," they say, "and no gas to put in it. This is the dead end, where all roads end."

They talk about the end of days when melting icebergs will flood the earth. They mutter about the darkness in every heart that only government supervision can restrain. They put the chains on your hands and tell you that it's for your own good. Only when everything is completely under their control, when nothing unpredictable can happen and their change has changed everything so thoroughly that no other change is possible, will they take them off. And by then you won't want them to. By then you wouldn't know what to do without chains and a shiny car that has nowhere to go because there are no more roads. Because there is nothing at all.

Sometimes you get the strong feeling that there's still a big bright road waiting for you. Down that road, the shiny cars flash by and there are diners where the burgers are good and cheap and the music never stops playing. Sometimes you can hear that music coming through the darkness, piercing the dissonant jangle of torment, the hysterical voices shrieking and mocking over the radio, distorted and digitzed into inhuman noises. Sometimes you can smell the burgers, the meat and ketchup, cutting through the soy and kelp. And you want to go there because it feels like America... but you don't know the way anymore.

There is a secret to finding the way. The place you are going is the place you want to be. Your journey is your identity. Your destination is who you are. To understand a president you do not need to know his biography or study his personality. All you have to do is look out the window and you will know who he is and you will know his supporters are. And then you have to ask yourself if you want to go where he is going. And you have to ask yourself where you want to go and, to do that, you have to ask yourself who you are.

America isn't a place, it's people. To find a place, we have to become it. Going there is becoming. Finding it is finding ourselves. We are the road and the car. America is us. It isn't a piece of paper, it's not a birthplace on a birth certificate, it's a birthright. It isn't about where you live, but about how you think. It is something that you either are or aren't. When you let people who aren't American run America, if you let them decide its future, then America ceases to be America. And all that remains is a dark road and a shiny car that has been declared illegal, because in the new America there are no longer cars or roads, just light rail and feet.

America is a place where a great many people got together and decided that it was time to run a country differently. Every other country had kings, it had elected officials. Every other country ran your life for you, here you would run your own life. And before you knew it the country had so many shiny cars that it was the envy of the world. And there were places to drive those shiny cars to because it was a big country full of great people who needed great big cars to traverse it all.

We are a small country now with small cars run by small men whose goals are petty and whose egos push at the confines of their puny frames. We are a country where the roads lead nowhere because the small men do not want us going anywhere. And they don't want us going anywhere because they are afraid of losing control of us. They have spent a great deal of time and money herding us here, putting up fake direction signs. "Free Health Care: Next Exit" and "5 Miles to Civil Rights" and "Turn Right: Clean Energy Jobs." Now they have us here and they are terrified that we will just drive away and leave them behind. That America will become America again and they will be left behind in the darkness cursing us and each other.

They are afraid, and you can see the fear in their eyes. You can see the panic as they sow fear and doubt, as they strive to divide us and lie to us, as they do their best to keep us from remembering that we have a choice-- and we did not choose this.

The question to ask is not, where are we going, but who we are. It is not a question of mere policy, but of identity. We are America. The road is our road and our children and grandchildren will travel on it. It is up to us to open the way for them. It is up to us to drive toward our future.


  1. And that is the change that Obama wants to foist on the nation. A change in who and what Americans are. They are not and never were what he envisions.

  2. That picture at the end reminds me of "Dancing with the Stars". I just love that show. I turn it on and forget all my troubles. I pretend I'm one of the beautiful people spinning and dipping and gliding across the dance floor. I so much look forward to watching that show ... hey wait a minute ... I better check the TV Guide. That stupid political stuff better not bump my show.

  3. Hugo Fitch5/9/12

    Obama despises all that is good about America. He was never more honest than during his "You didn't build that" moment. His expression, his inflection; the true inner man was revealed. Clearly he was speaking from the heart, and channeling his college days garden variety Marxist. We cannot be rid of this cancerous administration soon enough.

  4. Anonymous5/9/12

    That is why Romney needs to talk not only of the ruined economy, but of the idea of America. Because Obama does not understand America and/or what he does understand, he wants to dismantle.

    So, Mr. Greenfield. To cut to the chase, only extraordinarily anxious woman asks: Who do you think will win this election? Because while it comes down to each and every one of us, the man who sits in the Oval Office will have an awful lot to do with the outcome of things.

  5. Anonymous5/9/12

    only - one (like I said, I'm anxious...can't type right)

  6. Anonymous5/9/12

    You said a mouthful. While the administration accuses us of hate, which they are probably projecting anyway, we are sitting here obeying our training to suppress our real emotion: grief. We should stop obeying that training and start grieving in public.

  7. dave s5/9/12

    I liked this. True of America and also true of old England. Both countries are still there but harder to find. You are right about the fear in their eyes. They are going to lose in the end.

  8. Mr ED5/9/12

    The promise of a magical, perfect future which can only be brought about by the "enlightened" who espouse it is a seductive one for the many who do not know history, do not care to, and prefer to just go along for the ride. It is particularly effective if you also personally assault, degrade and demean those unbelievers who stand in the way of that promised magical, perfect future which is always right around the corner and also always out of reach.

    The disconnect between historical realities and the same old repeated magical promises of the elect that, "yes we can!" have that promised perfect future if we just shovel enough power into their vicious, narcissistic hands is of little importance to a body politic that has become dependent vassals of the self-appointed saviours of everything.

    I suggest we conservatives institute a 12-step program to those poor souls dependent on and addicted to government. Can you imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth by the Leftists whose only real promise is more and more dependence on government? Doing this would not only frame the battle so that even the most ignorant can understand it, it would make the Libfilth actually defend their own stated premises and the resulting policies which are so destructive to the society and every individual.

  9. Anonymous5/9/12

    "'What do we want' is the ritual chant of every political assembly. The RNC's chant is jobs. The DNC's chant is abortion."

    Could the contrast be any more stark? Whither goest thou, America: production or destruction?

    Thank you, "Sultan Knish" for another fine piece of writing. Your blogvoice needs to be heard far and wide. ~arasina~

  10. It's too late, America is dead. They destroyed it by indoctrination of the youth and warped truths. Too many people in this country have gone soft and are beyond willing to allow the Nanny State to take care of all their needs. They believe there is an endless supply of money, and that they shouldn't be forced to work for anything but should have access to all the creature comforts their little hearts desire.

    God is ashamed of America. People are more worried about owning lots of useless crap than providing a meal to their children. If they don't have the 56" HD Flat Screen with the stereo surround sound and blue ray player, then what's the point? They would rather a shiny new car with all the accoutrements than taking care of an elderly family member. They would rather send them to a warehouse courtesy of the taxpayers than sacrifice the time they spend at the martini bar and OKKKupy rally.

    Those of us that do care for our own, we are an endangered species. But unlike the Dodo bird, no one cares. See there are plenty of Special Interest groups that take up the cause for their endangered species that happen to be at odds with us, the new species on the endangered list.

    So we are left with the responsibility of our own survival.

  11. Ezra5/9/12

    I'm not an Objectivist, but I did get one thing out of reading Ayn Rand. In a Socialist utopia, everybody hates everybody else. That's because you, by existing, lay claim to everything I have. You are, in effect, the slaveowner, and I am the slave (and vice-versa). It is a horror, and it's loose in America.

  12. This would make an amazing campaign speech.

  13. This is one of your best pieces yet. It gave me chills,

    and made me sad.


  14. Anonymous5/9/12

    Sadly the country has been vastly dumbed-down by an agenda-driven uber-liberal Hollywood/Media Complex. In their chase to put on even more mindless reality shows, foist "Hollywood" moral values on the nation (its good to be an un-wed teenage Mom, you get your own TV show and on the cover of Star!) and tell us why its OK to have 40% or so not paying taxes, and keep on re-distributing the wealth, the Hollywood/Media complex never understands the potential for blowback. If we ever had the equivalent of the French Revolution here it may be those types that are swinging from the lamposts first, even before the politicians, for their endless attempts to push and force their own values and agendas on the public, irregardless of whether the public wants them or not. They have become arrogant, self-appointed, and over-impressed with themselves. The Emperors however, have no clothes.

  15. Obama's election represented the end of America as a project of the European diaspora. Electing Romney isn't going to reverse that or even slow it down. He's one of them. The GOP convention was a pathetic capitulation to the liberal mindset. In fact, if I were a liberal I'd vote for Romney. Obama's too obvious.

  16. Anonymous5/9/12

    I am English living in what used to be England and have never been to America. However, as always when you right in this style about America, you make me deeply nostalgic!

    You are such a gifted writer, Daniel. I have never come across anyone that writes like you. Whilst your subject matter is always sobering and even depressing and your call to right-thinking and right action is so clear and challenging, you do it with such skill and beauty that it is an absolute joy to read!

    Baruch HaShem for your valuable gift!

  17. Anonymous5/9/12

    Another of your extremely insightful comments.

    So, Sultan, you yourself have also neglected an essential component of how all this will play out. Obama and ALL of his various Czars, appointees, and hangers-on will have their own appointees and progeny nicely ensconced in positions of power before he leaves, either now or in 2016. They will carry on with the trashing of the nation into the endless future. The only (as in single, solitary, unique) means we have of preventing that is if he is completely and publicly recognized as a fraud, usurper, and criminal. To accomplish that, one has to join and help the "birthers" movement, otherwise known as Constitutionalists. It is a fact that not a single U.S. citizen has any idea what his identity is, who has been helping him, what he owes to whom, or how he is expected to pay off that massive debt.Only the successful demand that his life documentation be opened for complete forensic evaluation and results made public will enable an effective expunging of his minions from governmental power.

    Have you participated in this effort? If not, your efforts on behalf of the nation are and will continue to be completely futile.

  18. Anonymous5/9/12

    Well Ebony, plenty of Americans were disgusted with the RNC. So much that The Learning Channel s digusting Here Comes Honey Boo Boo scored higher ratings.


  19. Keliata, you may be right, if only partially. I suspect there were as many Honey Boo Boo viewers who were unaware of the RNC as were disgusted.

    In the war between constitutionalists and statists, we may not know where Romney's heart resides, but that certainly can't be said of Obama.

  20. Wonderful imagery, thank you; with only slight adjustments it applies equally to Britain. Housman encapsulated it somewhat more succinctly perhaps, but then his austere approach is somewhat less entertaining, but riveting, nonetheless:

    Into my heart an air that kills
    From yon far country blows
    What are those those remembered hills
    What spires what farms are those.

    That is the land of lost content
    I see it shining plain
    The happy highways where we went
    And cannot come again.

  21. Anonymous15/9/12

    It is now time to turn that entire country into glass! One aircraft carrier can do the job, we just don't have a REAL AMERICAN in the White House to give the order! Oh, how great it would be to have Allen West, with his knowledge about the military, sending the order to wipe out that country! God Bless Us All!

  22. Lord, please forgive us. we allowed the bolsheviks to take away our childrens' future.


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