Factions, Identity Politics, Us vs Them, Is there anything good about it?
The rancor we hear in the news about what’s going on in Washington sounds like we’re tearing the country apart. How will the country ever survive. A Bernie Sanders supporter goes “head hunting”, can it get any worse, who’s to blame, shouldn’t we shut it down and dial everything back a notch or two? The founding fathers had an idea this would be the case and the genius of what they put together anticipated that there would be an ebb and flow to the government philosophy. To minimize the impact of this, they put together different ways to check any one side from taking too much control and allow for some means of balance to occur. Remember they’d seen a lot in Europe with the Monarch’s and different factions forcing personal agendas on the populace. The Federalist’s Papers show much of the thought processes involved and what they were protecting against. Over the years we have added a few things such as limits to the number of terms any one president could serve, but each addendum required much deliberation and consideration before a change could be made. This is hard and arduous and takes the congress to make recommendations for change. It was not supposed to be ease but is how ideas from many different people have an opportunity to be cussed and discussed until a useful and beneficial concept is hammered out, so is there anything good coming from all this rancor? I would say a resounding yes because in the arena where ideas must be expressed there will be strong willed people on all sides who will speak forcefully for their opinions.
Is all this rancor tearing the country apart? As long as we observe the laws that have been passed by a duly elected congress and don’t arbitrarily ignore them because you can’t convince enough other people that you are right and they are wrong, then our country will remain strong. The Bernie Sanders supporter broke the law and he paid the price, why he broke the law is another matter altogether and that is definitely worth discussing. The fact there were people cheering for it is a sad day, in my opinion, but I’d be willing to bet those people who cheered for it wouldn’t actually act on it the way he did. I believe this is part of the ebb and flow of politics. Right now we are experiencing the results of liberal and populists ideas which have been slowly integrating themselves into our daily lives since the 30’s with a few breaks thrown in by leaders with a different mindset such as Kennedy, Reagan and now Trump. The idea that the constitution is a living, breathing document which must change over time is one such populist government philosophy. Well the founding fathers allowed for that but they dang sure didn’t make it easy so don’t take short cuts. Another is the idea a central government is necessary in order to provide guidance for the populace. As free people there would be chaos unless the government were there to provide necessary morals and controls for us all. If not for the central politburo, excuse me, Central Government, who would stop us from throwing grandma over the cliff, or who would take the money from the poor and give it to a select few “privileged” individuals. (TIC – that’s what I’ve seen from the liberal populists, just look at how much money Clinton, Reid, Pelosi have amassed in a short period of time “working” for the government, a service oriented, theoretically low paying job).
Several of the founding fathers believed we should have a strong central government and be led by someone, elected or not, with the title of King, but fortunately the majority did not and government was distributed among the states directly and indirectly with the representatives in congress. As I look at our current situation the states have conceded much of their authority and control over to the central government because if they don’t then the central government won’t give monies collected through taxes back to the state. Blackmail or Bribery? It’s interesting looking at some of the early writings of the founding fathers and some of our early officials, when they referred to the country it was always the United States are one country instead of the current United States is one country. A small difference perhaps, but an important one as they saw the main driver the individual states and not the central government. They don’t teach this in the schools anymore and the department of Education and Teachers Union, should be ashamed for not teaching this absolutely unique and amazing history, warts and all. That’s a subject for another column.
Last point, has this rancor ever been as bad as it is now? Credible historians, who have studied our history in depth, will tell you it has been much worse. Remember, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton dueled resulting in Hamilton’s death the following day. People have pushed hard for their ideas at the exclusion of anyone else because, like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, they were the smartest people in the room. Fortunately, other ideas combined with their ideas and a much better idea was born. So with that, we can all take a deep breath and recognize the vaunted actors and actresses are very good at their specific craft but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have any answer!