What ever happened to honesty and fairness as bedrock principles in American politics?
Many citizens no longer expect either.
It’s always been a challenge to gauge what’s true and fair but we have been in a politically toxic environment perhaps ever since we declared “the war on terror.”
Our public leaders encourage us, in response to matters off shore and here at home, to focus on individual risk and fear, and to encourage reprisal and violence.
Our worst leaders do it by being entirely dishonest and unfair.
We have one blustering presidential candidate, so nativistic, he wants a very tall thick impregnable wall across the length of our southern border with Mexico. What’s scary is so many don’t think this is a joke. Nor does anyone think it’s incredible to believe this candidate will get a border nation-state, Mexico, to pay for his wall.
We have another saber rattling candidate who wants to carpet bomb a mid-east nation and apparently believes that won’t encourage “terrorists” to come here and do the same to us.
There are those who want every citizen to buy a gun. My neighbors were shooting their guns after dark while I wrote this – “practicing,” I suppose, to defend against a home invasion or the unlikely event that ISIS might attack at or near Lovettsville’s Town Council.
The worst aspect of this dystopic demagoguery, so misleading in concept and execution, is that these “leaders” are indifferent to the devastating effect on the nation’s character, on how we may continue to make the historical claim that we are the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Our claim has been at risk ever since we have allowed ourselves to be surveilled at every turn by our own government and by suspecting and fearing friend and neighbor alike, abandoning the notion that we are a “melting pot,” and “ratting” out others, revealing ourselves not to be very free nor very brave.
When we talk about “social issues” these days in our elections, we talk about what divides people, often by religion or race, concerned about who should marry whom, or what choices a woman may or may not have involving her own body, although these issues have been pretty well settled by our civil courts.
We should resolve in the New Year to spend more time discussing those “other” truly critical “social issues” including what we are going to do to respect another’s belief, race or national origin, how we can assure ourselves that our air and water are safe, where we may place unwanted and disabled children, how to feed the hungry, how to house those living on our streets including damaged veterans, how to reform our sense of “justice,” how to heal or treat the mentally ill, how to curtail violence, how to school our children, how to make schools and college affordable for every child, how to train and create real jobs so that people may work, how to set standards for hours and wages, how to protect workers from exploitation, how to get medical care to the poor and uninsured, how to address the challenges of old age and retirement and the catastrophic costs at the end of life.
We should also set a national goal worthy of our most dramatic historic accomplishments and get over the fact that’s it’s not the same thing to repeat nostalgically – how we once went to the moon.
Our public figures are wading through a quicksand of lies and half-truths that bring us all down, individually and as a nation, especially when we don’t object.
We have had those recent lessons in Iraq on how untrustworthy and dangerous our leaders can be.
Something as praiseworthy as the promise not to leave any child behind was itself left behind.
If we don’t change our focus from war to peace and to “other” social issues, and speak honestly and fairly to solve these injustices and inequities, our system of government may rightly be found irrelevant to the many, to the people that comprise this still young democratic experiment, and we shall have failed the still unfulfilled promise of our nation.