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Opinions are fun. My friends tell me I am someone with lots of opinions and that's fine since I don't get mad at others when they disagree with me. In this same spirit I am interested in hearing yours views as long as you are able to share your views without boiling over. I look forward to hearing from you. I tend to write in the form of short essays most of the time, but contributions do not need to be in this same format or size. Some of the content here will date itself pretty quickly, other content may be virtually timeless, this is for the reader to judge.


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The Children won’t play nice                                                                                     Print this essay

Posted at: Oct/16/2015 : Posted by: mel

Related Category: Behavior, Politics & Gov, Watching America,

As a parent, having a house full of children can be a very rewarding experience. You get to see them teach each other things, show their individuality, and mature into unique adults. One of the most rewarding times is when they all play together with a respect and tolerance for each other. Ah, but I reminisce for this behavior is now only the stuff of legend and lore when watching our Congress of 2015.

I am not a fan of “when I was a boy” and “back in the good old days” stories. Selective memory makes those stories a skewed recollection. Nevertheless, I do remember a time when Republicans only hated Democrats. Now they hate each other, and with substantially more vigor and venom.

The chew-’em-up-and-spit-’em-out orgy in the House of Representatives appears to be the political version of a circular firing squad. The search for some mystical ideological purity apparently requires that the house be blown up because one kitchen cabinet door squeaks.

In an apparently out of date perspective, these should be the “Golden Days” for the GOP. With respect to numbers, the Republican enjoys large margins in both the House and Senate. The GOP also has a huge advantage in many statehouses and a broad and diversified corps of presidential candidates to offer the voting public. In this environment, it is clear that the American voter has said that the Democrats are old and tired.

And yet, in this legislatively rich environment the Republicans can’t take yes for an answer and seem to have chosen fratricide. Knowing that Democrats have dominated the legislative process for much of the last 100 years; the father of the modern conservative movement Ronald Reagan, insisted that his fellow Republicans never publically speak ill of a party mate. The would-be heirs to this movement have adopted the playground attitude of “he hit me first” losing sight of what President Reagan initiated.

The Democrats and their liberal media handmaidens are clearly enjoying this spectacle. In true efficiency, they don’t have to look for opportunities to attack their conservative counterparts; they are just leaning back with their feet up and popcorn nearby as they watch the bloodletting unfold. Simple efficiency has always inspired me and I am forced at this time to offer begrudging complements to the Democratic Party and their presidential hopefuls, but their turn is coming is definitely coming.

As the Presidential races heats up, even the liberal hopefuls will begin to distance themselves from their Dear Leader Barack Obama. The patchwork quilt of liberal special interest groups will soon be tearing each other apart. There is nothing that spews vitriol and invective slurs better than a scorned liberal. We promote that there is nothing more American than “Chevrolet and Apple Pie.” In truth, there is nothing more American than a nasty political race opening up philosophical chasms and sharing personal insults. Maybe this is because America is one of the few countries where such things can be shared without the contestants disappearing to a gulag, never to be seen again.

Despite the mess, our politicians are elected representatives. This means that the irrational destruction of the GOP and its potential future crackup may in truth be a microcosm of society. Maybe Republicans think that the best way to connect with voters is to be as angry as they feel their constituents are. Clearly…many Americans have a lot to be angry about. It is not unusual for a presidential race to include an “outsider”, but the current Republican field is led by three outsiders. The same thing is likely to appear in the Democratic race and the message from all this is a resounding – “throw the bums out.” Actually, the message is not new, and definitely not a revelation. The last couple of election cycles have sent large freshman classes to Washington and many state assemblies making it clear that establishment politicians are not to be trusted. Considering the public disdain for our representatives it is no surprise that yesterday’s fresh new face is today’s dead wood.

Or maybe nobody has the answer for what ails America and the pols are the last place we should look. Clearly we have entered the age of intolerance. Christian fundamentalist are upset because they can’t pick and choose which laws they obey and which they get to ignore or who they do business with. Liberals want to selectively ignore laws that don’t align with their current agenda and loudly proclaim that you’re a bigot if you don’t quickly accept any of their evolving changes proposed for society. The wealthy are hiding behind their political donations rather than admit their tax break on dividends is not going back into creating jobs. Socialist leaning Americans will loudly chant that you are out of touch with the needs of Main Street when you don’t fund a new social program.

At its greatest, America has been a place where differences were tolerated and diversity was considered a great strength. In this melting pot, when great issues needed to be dealt with, a negotiated middle ground was found and everyone moved on. Now a senator is willing to bring the government to a standstill over the expenditure of less than one tenth of one percent of the budget they disagree with. Maybe worse yet is a president that is willing to just refuse to enforce the laws passed by Congress. This is complimented by the leaders of both parties of Congress refusing to bring pending legislation to a vote if their caucus does not distinctly support it. Again, the big divide: ordinary citizens must obey the laws whether they agree with them or not, but this does not seem to apply to our elected representatives.

The news is full of accounts of butchery, rape and abuse across the globe fueled by extremism and intolerance. As these events are reported we express our abhorrence at such acts. Nevertheless, when intolerance at home drives extreme acts and disdain for people who don’t go to the same church, dress the same, or believe the same as ourselves, we don’t brand it as extremism.

Of course, politics only pretends to lead society. The role of a politician may best be captured by a tried and tested, yet still true definition. A politician is someone who sees which way the parade is marching and rushes to get in front. Unfortunately, in our modern society the parade is moving so quickly with so many twists and turns it is difficult for anyone to stay in front and stay relevant. With the help of science, technology and real-time communication, change is happening so often and so quickly that there may be no clear way to gauge what is important at any given moment.

For most of us, there is comfort in having a clear plan that says where we are going and how we are going to get there. It is clear that the Republicans do not have a cohesive plan at this time. As the election cycle enters its peak the Democrats will likely show as well that they don’t have a single and widely accepted vision that is relevant to everyday Americans until enough Kool-Aid has been shared.

All of this can sound rather morbid and imply that the nation is tearing itself apart without a clear plan for what comes next. Before despair settles in, remember that America has had greater and more perilous ruptures in its history. From the Civil War to the Great Depression, and through all the economic ups and downs and sweeping social changes, predictions that doomsday was imminent always proved premature. Some will say these great turning points were overcome via divine destiny and guidance. There are historians who would say these crucial events were overcome with the aid of a new as special leaders guiding Americans to their next era of greatness.

For me, the soup becomes great because of the way all the ingredients blend together to create something that was not there before, and is better than any of the individual components. Clearly, I am an optimist, but the noise from our politicians still reminds me of the days when my children and their friends were much younger. When the din would get too loud I would tell them to either “play nice or go to bed early.” It would be nice to believe that such a message would be all it took to get our elected representatives focused on working together towards a mediated solution. Fortunately our country is bigger and better than the egos of anyone we have misguidedly elected.

But it would be nice, just once to send them to bed without their dinner. Maybe, they would behave better the next day.

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Naguib Mahfouz
You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.
 
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