By Chic Hollis – Philosophical Musings
Polarization of political views is destroying the remnants of unity in America. Freedom to think, say, and do as we please is permitting the growing inharmony that prevents prompt political action to solve our various social problems. There is no consensus about legalizing the use of marijuana, the marriage of homosexual couples, the abortion of human fetuses, the progressive taxation of income, the deployment of military forces, and the way to rein in government spending, reduce our dependence on imported oil, restrain ambitious, over-paid CEOs, and curtail the abuse of the physical environment.
Americans can say what they wish out loud, on the Internet, and in letters to the editors. They can burn flags, disrupt traffic and domestic tranquility with demonstrations, and act obnoxiously in public without serious repercussions. And they can vote at the polls, spend as they choose, and go where they want – if they have enough money.
Without a general consensus about what this nation’s priorities are, what the best interests for the majority of its citizens should be, and what the optimum way to serve this commonwealth ought to be, our leaders flail around the District of Corruption arguing all the time. They talk for hours on TV without convincing anyone to change his or her biased opinions. They act as if they knew how to remedy our most pressing issues, but they only take half-hearted actions like voting to go to war in Iraq without having all the facts.
Situations, conditions, procedures, policies, and inequities are what they are. Each person views them from his or her own perspective. These people often are uninformed, misinformed, ill-advised, prejudiced, poorly educated, and manipulated by lies, hyperbole, and distortions of the truth. Nevertheless, they are free to judge unrighteous judgment!
By allowing people in California to vote on propositions they are ill-prepared to judge, our leaders casually accept the majority’s supposed consensus as a result of the vote. Unless some judge finds the outcome of the vote to be in his or her opinion “unconstitutional.”
Our politicians hint that they adhere to accepted “family values” without ever enumerating them. Businessmen and women profess to be taking decisions based on a sincere consideration of their customers’ needs and desires, but frequent product recalls attest to other priorities like increasing dividends, stock values, and executive pay. Banks send out literature to assure their depositors that their money is being wisely invested in sound loans, but the recent number of bank failures prove otherwise. Thank the Lord for the FDIC!
E pluribus unum means nothing today. It’s a forgotten Latin expression found on our new quarters, but who studies Latin today? “From many, one” isn’t our motto any longer. In a major subsidiary of a foreign company I ran, the directors did not have to support a decision based on a majority vote. Accepting that a person can be stubbornly adverse to a decision and not be required to go along with the desires of the majority undermines the basic concept of democracy. Democracy may be flawed for that reason, but as long as this country is committed to that form of government, what deviations, if any, should be allowed? How polarized can a nation’s citizens become before the disintegration of the political system begins? How radical or obstinate can people be before violence erupts and revolution ensues?
People don’t spend time thinking about what is good for this young nation. They tend to judge everything subjectively asking how am I personally benefitted? If sincere folks truly believed that seeking unity ought to be the goal of our leaders, those leaders would not be acting so belligerently in Congress and in our state legislatures. For example, our president should be striving to find a solution to the immigrant problem in Arizona rather than attacking in court the only state who is fed up with the laxity of our federal law enforcers!
Our nation is what we have made of it so far. The individual may be free to “do his or her thing,” but only as long as what is done doesn’t contribute to undermining the social contract that binds this country together. If Congress and state governments continue to act defiantly, often ignoring what the public desires, we are doomed to a continued fraying of the fabric that contains all the colorful strands of virtuous men and women who inhabit this country.