Six things in America we should all worry about

Six things in America we should all worry about
The sun sets nearly due west over Madison Street in Chicago. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)

No, this is not another bash Trump and the GOP article from a lefty. In fact, this is not a bash anyone article. It is a statement of concern by an American about the nation, people he loves.

I do love America from sea-to-shining-sea. I love the mountains and the hollows of my beloved Virginia. I love the fertile flat prairie of my home state, Illinois. New England is like a painting, and the genteel South lulls me with grace. Our great Western States inspire me with awe and wonder. America’s tropical paradise, Hawaii must be the new Garden of Eden.

America is overflowing with good people. Men and women who will feed you if you are hungry, hold your hand when you are sad, and love one another with deep intensity.

Until we mention politics, then things change.

The words Republican and Democrat, or Liberal and Conservative are a potent potion that transforms kind and loving people into creatures from a horror film.

As a young man, I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” and thought it was a nice story. Shortly after arriving in Washington, DC, I said to my associates, “My God, we are creating Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes.” No other city that can make people turn on one another faster, and with such intensity as Washington, DC.

The Washington scorn machine has created some situations in America which cause me a great deal of worry. Here is my partial list. Every problem stated below exists because of our political parties. Neither party, none of our elected officials, and few in the press are trying to do anything about them.  Perhaps you have things you would like to add to the list.

The persistent belief that people who do not agree with us are stupid, or evil. The notion that disagreement equates to lack of intelligence or some evil intent is bipartisan. We see it often in what passes itself off as political debate these days. Conservatives are fans of saying liberals lack the necessary intelligence to understand and apply logic to policy proposals. Liberals are keen on the belief that conservatives are heartless monsters and racists.

Hateful commentary has replaced well-though out debate. There is way too much name-calling in our political lives. The words Nazi, Communist, RINO, Libtard, and a host of pejoratives are used to misdescribe our fellow Americans. We practice the politics of contempt rather than of competing ideas.

Judicial overreach is a grave concern. In an ideal world, courts are not political and reasonable judges make decisions based on law.  Our Nation is hardly living up to that ideal. In our history, we have seen the court protect bad things: from slavery in the Dred Scott case to safeguarding segregation as they did until Brown vs. The Board of Education. Since the founding of the Republic, the political class in power has made a conscious effort to pack the court with members who agree with their political viewpoint.

Laws made from the bench can transform society faster than can the Legislative or Executive Branches of Government. Extremists know this and seek quick judgments to implement their narrow views. We are always just a court decision away from tyranny or chaos. Once the courts have ruled, the damage is permanent unless there is another ruling allowing the court to reverse itself, or a constitutional amendment.
U.S. Congress rarely passes spending legislation on time
We have a Congress that refuses to legislate. Extremist rancor and doctrinaire views have turned Congress into a legislative graveyard. The deadlock is especially true in the Senate, where Mitch McConnell seems intent on passing little in the way of substantive legislation. When was the last time Congress passed a budget by the deadline of September 30th?

As we can see from the chart compiled by Pew Research Center, we have not had a budget completed by Oct 1 in this century. It is not just appropriations that are a problem. The Congress is now a graveyard for ideas.

The lack of a backbone is not new to the denizens of the U.S. Capitol Building. Fear of taking on controversial issues has been the catalyst for judicial overreach. If the Congress does not do its job, we have judges stepping in and performing their function. Is that quality representative government?

Extremists are defining the debate. My fiancé is fond of saying, “A bird has a right wing and a left wing, both are attached to the same bird.” She is right. Both wings perform essential functions so the bird can fly. With either wing broken, the bird cannot get off the ground. We now have two broken wings who refuse to compromise.

We are attacking our institutions that are important to our freedom. We see this clearly with the President’s demagoguery about the free press. We attack our law enforcement agencies. This behavior also is a bipartisan effort.

On the one hand, we have the President of the USA attacking the FBI with the so-called OJ defense: attack the authorities and be relentless about it. On the other hand, we have some who automatically convict the police of wrong-doing anytime there is a shooting involving the police. No one is asking, “Why did the cop feel the need to shoot this person?” Condemnation of the police appears to be automatic, guilt or innocence notwithstanding.

The fact the President of the United States participates in this practice is reprehensible. He is supposed to be the highest police official in the land, and he is trying to erode public confidence in the best law enforcement agency in the world.

The 2016 GOP platform promised to restore the public’s faith and trust in law by not “sowing the seeds of division.” It is evident to anyone who can read that promise is hollow.

What is the fix? The solution will not come from Washington, DC. It is up to us, we the people of America to no longer tolerate the extremes in the parties. In America, we seem to believe the problem rests with the other person’s Representative or Senator, and that ours is just fine. That is the crux of the problem.

The facts are that incumbents are the problem, and your representatives in the House and Senate need to go. It does not matter about their party, their ideology; whether they got your Aunt Helen’s social security mess straightened out. We have too many in Congress who no longer respect the people who sent them to Washington. If they did respect constituents, they would act in a far different manner.

It is time to fire them all.

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