The politicians and commentators wringing their hands at last week’s coup attempt in Washington were for the most part united in their protestation that “this is not America.” They were wrong.
This is what America has become. The ideals are there, perhaps, but the reality is a nation divided with no end in sight unless people are willing to change – which they don’t seem to be. Donald Trump didn’t create the problem, he is just its mirror and magnifier.
That Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” would rise up in armed force to seize the seat of government could have been predicted. (And why there wasn’t an adequate plan to keep the mob from the Bastille, I mean the Capitol is a question that should be addressed. Someone needs to be fired, not just Donald Trump.)
The question that the world is asking is, can America be healed? Can the country again become “one nation under God,” or is it time to decide the experiment has failed and split the place up. Are the divisions too deep, too widespread, for the States to ever be united again?
I could go into great length about how the American dream devolved into the American nightmare. I could list the turning points, name the names of those who have had major roles in the weakening of the social contract and the erosion of American society.
But that wouldn’t be constructive. Instead, some thoughts on how to fix the political problem.
First: the people who don’t agree with you aren’t demons in human form. That seems to be a tough concept for people on both the left and the right, for conservatives and liberals. That is where Clinton found her famous basket remark, which may have cost her the presidency.
Recognizing the humanity of your opponent goes a long way into finding common ground. As Sting said, “Russians love their children too.”
Second: Political reform is urgently needed. I can see a couple of possibilities that would ratchet down the tension and improve the state of American democracy.
Those would include an independent electoral commission with rule changes to prevent gerrymandering and introduce spending limits to political campaigns. Yes, there would be a lot of screaming from those with entrenched interests. But don’t you think it would be interesting to see what an election looked like where ideas and personality were more important than money?
I also see the need for a viable third party in American politics. The us versus them, black hat versus white hat dichotomy is tougher to maintain if there are more than just two choices. Unfortunately, so far smaller parties in the U.S. just haven’t been able to gain any traction.
There are other ideas I could suggest, but those are perhaps the biggest. And I’m not touching on the social issues in this post, issues which may indeed be bigger than the political ones. Politics is a field in which I am somewhat expert, I’ll let someone else address racism and poverty in America – areas in which I am merely an informed layman.
You may remember when “lightbulb jokes” were all the rage. My favorite was: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? The answer: “One. But the lightbulb has to want to change.”
Does America want to change? Do American’s want to change? Or are they happy on the path to national destruction, as long as their side wins?