As we’ve explored in the last few blogs, we are living in the middle of what I believe is a national crisis of solidarity, growing racial bitterness, pervasive distrust and political dysfunction.
When and how did all this start? We have had intense political battles, scurrilous election campaigns and public protests since the foundation of our great nation.
Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson didn’t agree on very much about what our nation needed to get started or how to structure where it was going. When Jefferson ran for president against Aaron Burr, however, Hamilton supported Jefferson, despite all their differences.
When Ronald Reagan was president, he and House Speaker Tip O’Neill differed sharply on many issues, but found enough areas on which they could agree to get legislation through Congress.
It would be difficult today to even count the number of bills co-sponsored by a Democrat and a Republican. None of this cooperative history seems possible in this era of no compromise. The rancor and hostility which appears to characterize the people in Congress or in the public arena today do not appear to have any chance of compromise or even civility.
So, I repeat my question: Where and how did all this start? Certainly the seeds of all this enmity have grown over a very long time, but I would speculate that three things have been the major influence in creating this discord.
First and foremost, I think the spark that set off this battle was the attempt to impeach Bill Clinton.
The grounds for impeachment, “conviction of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” were stretched a bit to try to impeach Clinton and I’m not sure the wounds have ever healed.
Another factor contributing to the inability of Congress to get along and get anything done has been the “airplane.” How could that be, you ask?
Congress works basically Monday through Thursday in Washington. With the airplane, members now scatter on Fridays. This has limited Congress members getting to know each other as people, rather than just as political opponents. I know this may seem somewhat far-fetched, but I believe these factors help explain how the battle got started in the political arena.
Like all the battles, this one has escalated with increasing contentious issues and presidents who haven’t bent much to negotiate. Over time, the wounds continue to fester.
As I wrote on the last blog, the election of Donald Trump his ignited a roar we have never seen before. Granted, he didn’t win the popular vote, but that has happened before. His somewhat bellicose and combative nature has ignited an opposition who tries to outdo him in hostile rhetoric and actions.
It’s all very troublesome!
Where are all our thought leaders to recognize this growing crisis in all three arenas and try to take steps to counter the disastrous effects of all this negative activity?
Where are our past presidents? Where are the heads of all our major universities?
Why isn’t there a collective chorus and direction from our past presidents? And where are all the intellectual elites who will take a stand to sound the warning signals of this impending crisis against the disintegration of our basic values? Where are the think tanks and their annual conference of business and thought leaders to call out the idiocy of the “destroyers”?
They’re no longer just protestors or activists in the name of their advocacy, they are “destroyers” of property and the fundamental tenets of our liberty, our freedom and the very foundation of a Democratic Republic.
The media have fanned the flames of all this discontent and have contributed to the polarization going on in all three arenas.
Diversity and compromise is in full retreat. It is evident in all levels of our society. It is alarming and I am fearful of where it can possibly lead.
There appears to be no voices of reason out there to steer us away from this impending crisis.
While we wait for some direction from our nation’s leaders, the one movement that would help tone down the angry activists and bring some sanity to the Congress as well as the speech police would be a significant improvement in the economy; more jobs, increased wages and lower taxes.
If we could somehow get back to 3% annual growth, it would be a huge boost to not only the economy but to the state of mind of our fellow Americans. We can’t sustain our way of life on 2% or less annual growth.
Since 2000, the economy has lost a million jobs; and wages, compared to inflation, used to go up 2% to 3%. Now, they only go up to 1.5% and tax reform has been the cry of both parties for 10 to 15 years. It would help if it could happen now.
Improving the economy will help solve a lot of the problems and angst in the public arena, but it won’t do much for the other two sides of our crisis triangle.
As I said before, Trump didn’t create this crisis problem. His election was the beneficiary of all this brewing hostility and he will not be able to do much to defuse it, or resolve it. His only real influence could be in the economy.
How about you? How do you feel about all this dissent and hostility in the three arenas of our society? Are you sanguine about it or as disturbed as I am?
If you’re concerned, what else can be done to help find some resolution?