Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future – John F. Kennedy
I can think of no better quote to describe the moral imperative facing Americans today. Many of Divine Magazine’s faithful readers are non-American and rightfully view our political machinations as some sort of theatrical production. In one of my recent books, Political Craps, I have referred to the American political scene as “the never ending campaign.”
Unlike most constitutional parliamentary governments that many of you live under, America’s executive and legislative system has specific terms of office and therefore are governed by regular elections every two and four years. Every two years our entire House of Representatives and 1/3 of our Senate are up for re-election. Likewise, every four years the presidency is up for re-election. Our Supreme Court, the “great leveler” entrusted with interpreting laws as either constitutional or un-constitutional, has nine justices nominated for life by the president and voted on by the full Senate (100 Senators – 2 representing each of our 50 states) through a process known as “advise & consent.” This represents our three branches of government, each with specific powers to insure a “checks and balance” approach designed to protect the people from any single governmental body becoming dominate.
These set electoral cycles and terms of office cannot be suddenly disrupted by a “vote of non-confidence” by any particular political entity, including the people. In America that’s what our elections at the ballot box are for. If the people do not have confidence in an elected official, a political party, a particular policy/agenda or the overall direction of the country then they can vote their disapproval in the next election. Unfortunately, in the last several years many could argue that there is very little difference between our two dominate political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans (aka the GOP), except carefully contrived rhetoric. Granted, there are seemingly distinct differences in their particular approaches to governing. Like most modern democracies, these distinctions are commonly characterized by terms like “liberal” and “conservative” or even almost satirical definitions as “big government” versus “smaller government.”
Let’s be frank and honest.
To most of us common people, the truth of the matter is that regardless of their colorfully “spun” rhetorical declarations every political candidate’s true aspiration is power. Despite all the partisan ramblings and carefully manipulated “double speak,” career politicians are primarily concerned with getting elected and staying in office. In America our status quo leadership class has perfected this particular aspect of politics down to a fine “science!” I’m sure many of my international readers can relate. This is not a uniquely American trait. However, “politics today” in America has become a refined “art of the deal” that is undeniably left up to the highest bidder.
What was once a debatable perception of corruptible undue influence by well financed “special interests,” has now become de facto “realpolitik.” Ever since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs the FEC (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._FEC), political office seekers can now unabashedly solicit unlimited financial backing for their campaigns. This can take the blatant form of any number of modern day “political boss” multi-millionaires/billionaires or highly clandestine “separate but equal” “Super-PACs” (Super Political Action Committees) shrouded in the misnomer of political “free speech.” What a dangerously bad joke is this hypocrisy?
Yet, this is the sad state of the political atmosphere that average American voters find themselves perplexed by, frustrated with and essentially inclined towards apathetic resignation to accept. The awful truth, whether we want to admit it or not, is that this is our own damned fault! The resignation of our power as the deciders of our own destiny to a select few career politicians on both sides of the partisan political aisle who are all susceptible to being bought and paid for by the same self-serving special interests has divided us. America has become a severely polarized collection of “hyphenated” classifications. We are now African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, straight-Americans, gay-Americans, Christian-Americans, Muslim-Americans, etc…the list goes on and on ad nauseam. This is the result of “political correctness” that has run amuck. We have seriously forgotten the primary classification that uniquely defines us—WE ARE AMERICANS!
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
This is a nation built and made great by immigrants. That noble statue in New York harbor, Lady Liberty, welcomes immigrants from all nations and stands as a defining beacon of freedom from oppression. She stands in stark contrast to the xenophobic partisan rhetoric that some 2016 presidential candidates are utilizing to scapegoat foreigners as the harbingers of this nation’s many problems. This “Hitler-esque” hate speech is truly un-American and uniquely anti-democratic. I beg my international readers not to stereotype all Americans in this caustic depiction that is meticulously designed to fuel fear mongering in the specific hope of winning an election.
AMERICA & AMERICANS ARE BETTER THAN THAT! In the whirlwinds of societal, generational and economic change we Americans have just forgotten who we are and what we stand for! People in this country are not afraid of the present, but of the uncertain future. What exacerbates that fear is a monumental lack of vision by potential leaders that offers hope, peace and prosperity. In the 2016 election this country stands on the precipice of a new Golden Age. All the relevant indicators demonstrate this potential. America suffers from a serious deficit in confidence. Like similar moments in history, in the vacuum of strong leadership people will be easily mesmerized by any “pied piper” that plays a soothing hypnotic tune resurrecting fond memories of better days.
The single dominating current that simmers just below the 2016 political surface is a national yearning for change. American concerns over racial tensions, income inequality, expanding societal diversity and seemingly endless international crises are desperately searching for answers. It is this political observer’s humble opinion that we Americans need to seek those answers from within our collective national soul rather than from the phony two-faced snake charmers that are presently pining for our votes. In the historically truthful words of wisdom from one of America’s Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, we must reject the comfort familiarity of our status quo and shoulder the age old conviction of participatory democracy:
“Should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights.” –Thomas Jefferson to W. Nicholas, 1806.