To say that things are getting crazy in this country is certainly an understatement. It’s hard to find a precedent in our history. The Vietnam era? The great depression? The civil war?
The word of the day or the month or the year is tribalism. We are mostly gathering personally or through social media into tribes of all sorts – political, religious, and racial. It is a strange development, since there are so many things like cross border economies, personal contacts, and mutual interests that should draw people together. But they are not. It is very discouraging.
Unfortunately the expressions of our tribalism are spilling out into the open an awful lot these days. White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders is asked to leave a restaurant. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is harassed in a restaurant.
But then Congressmen Steve King spews venom with every word he utters. Sanders’ father, Mike Huckabee, sends out a tweet with a picture of some gang members with captioning indicating that it is a picture of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s campaign staff.
Are any of these things acceptable in a civil society? Is one incident worse than another, or are they all equally sad and reprehensible?
I know my Republican friends are going to turn off on what I am about to write, but by far, more than anyone, Donald Trump is most responsible for the sorry state we find ourselves in at the moment. Trump prides himself on being “politically incorrect,” but in fact he is being extremely politically correct – to the third or so of the country who comprise his beloved base.
I won’t go through the laundry list of people who the man in the White House has belittled, called names, attacked or mocked. We all know who those people are because we have heard the insults continuously for three years now. If that sort of thing – being rude, crude, and insulting – is okay with you, then I will forgive you for reading no further into this post. But being rude, crude and insulting, if I may suggest my position on things, is not the American way. It runs counter to what this country is supposed to be about. Unfortunately, the president of the United States has encouraged such behavior and made it acceptable to many people.
We are in the middle of what will likely prove to be a very momentous mid-term election, certainly one of the most significant political cycles that this country has ever seen. Like it or not, we are also in the midst of a very momentous legal investigation involving multiple people at the highest levels of government, and those activities remain to play out.
So what to do about this?
A number of local churches and other places of worship have taken recently to displaying lawn signs that say something like “we don’t all need to think alike to like one another.” Let that thought sink in for a moment.
We are at the moment a very long way away from peace and harmony in this country. We won’t be singing “kumbaya” together for a while. But shouldn’t we want to do that?
Take a look at the House of Representatives as an example of how depressingly screwed up things are.
Over the past twelve years there have been four Speakers, and there will be a fifth one next January. Gerrymandered districts electing extremists have set up a system for failure. Paul Ryan is leaving for one or two reasons: (1) the House is ungovernable; and/or (2) the House will be controlled by the Democrats come January.
The Republican caucus in the House has theoretically a large enough majority to push through anything it wants. But it can’t, because the alt-right Freedom Caucus controls enough votes to block anything it desires. There is also a group referred to as Republican “centrists,” whose members are generally in sync with others in the caucus except when their suburban-based seats are threatened by the policy preferences of the alt-right group. The centrists were recently seen attempting to discharge a bill to move action on DACA children, but the alt-right snarled at them and the centrists went away.
The Democrats in the House have a good chance of being in the majority when November 9th arrives, but they also have their political divisions. Nancy Pelosi’s hold on the caucus has seemed secure, but who knows how that will go? The party leadership in the House has been there a long time. A good argument can be made for moving on. I agree with Brian Higgins.
I cite the divisions in the two House caucuses as an indication of the disarray that exists in this country, which is leading absolutely nowhere. There is nothing likely to happen legislatively, regardless of how the mid-terms turn out, that will make things better any time in the near future.
So maybe it would be a good idea for the rest of us (those who are not members of Congress) to take advantage of this break in the action to size up where we stand as a country and to try to figure out what we are going to do about. No matter the results of the mid-terms, nothing much of a positive nature is going to get done in the next two and a half years. So let’s all take a deep breath and figure out how to get out of this mess.