Politics in America

It’s been a contentious month in a contentious era at a contentious stage in the life cycle of this thing we call America.  Issues as diverse as gun control, immigration reform, and gerrymandering are generating extraordinary levels of heat in the public discourse.  And rightly so, for they get at deep-seated conflicts like constitutional rights versus children’s safety, being a nation of immigrants versus a nation of laws, and being a representative democracy versus changing the boundaries on which representation is based.

You can probably easily imagine, based on where I live, which side most of the heat is coming from around here.  You might even be able to imagine what my position is on these issues.  But it is my temperament and my obligation to try to understand both sides, and the internal logic and underlying values behind them.  And it is my belief that in most cases, both sides are not really hearing or respecting the other, and yet both sides need to work together if we want to actually make progress.

If you are angry at or dismissive of that sentiment, consider how feasible or desirable the alternatives are:

1.       We become a dictatorship and just do things by fiat (well, actually, I know a lot of people who consider this highly desirable, as they watch China be able to decide on, initiate, and complete major projects in ways that we can’t seem to be able to in this country)

2.       We say to hell with the other side and just do things without involving them (R’s and D’s take turns being outraged with executive orders and related actions, depending on who’s in power)

3.       We cajole, insult, and shame the other side in the hope that they will wake up one day and say, “you know, I’ve been wrong all along” (based on how nasty the cajoling, insulting, and shaming has become, it's hard to see this happening)

The political process in a representative democracy in a large and diverse country like ours is frustrating as heck.  But it is also the only form of government and the only nation in the history of mankind that I would want to be a part of.  God bless America.

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