A Dark Day in America

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“It’s a great day in America.”

That’s how, Craig Fergusson, former host of the Late Late Show, usually began his ad-libbed comedy monologue. After all, the Scottish immigrant became an American citizen by choice.

But it’s not; i.e., a great day in America. It’s a dark day in the U.S.A.

I am not an alarmist. I have lived through too many crises that were not apocalyptic after all. Consider all the things I have seen come and go: The Cuban Missile Crisis, The Viet Nam War and the protests against the war, the civil rights movement and riots that burned down cities, Watergate, HIV/AIDS, The Iran-Contra Affair, super bacteria and viruses, The Great Recession, Y2K, The Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War, The Lebanon War, The First Gulf War, The Second Gulf War, The Cold War, 9-11, and many other scary periods in American history that escape me at the moment.

The Depths

But never had we had a presidential election in which the size of a man’s penis was a campaign issue. Junior high level bickering, bullying, and name calling have also been prominent parts of this nominating contest.

Out-and-out racism, misogamy, erratic position shifts, a shady business history, and publicly flaunted, virtue-deprived personality traits have apparently became some sort of qualification list, or perhaps, people really don’t care about that stuff anymore. They are apparently embraced, or at least overlooked because the candidate is a successful businessman who speaks his mind.

I feel like his tribe is looking for their big chief. It’s apparently okay if he has a few warts because he understands them and gives expression to their anger. As one follower said, “We are voting with our middle finger.” However, this is an election, not a gang fight, or incident of road rage, though it feels a bit like that. I think it best if engage our cerebral cortex, rather make an obscene gesture. How about voting with our heart and mind engaged, not just our anger and emotions?

The Villains

Everybody gets the anger and frustration part. Our system is badly broken and barely functioning. Our elected representatives are not serving us well.

I would hope, however, that we would be more insightful than supporting someone who simplifies our issues by blaming everything on one group of people and vilifying them.

With Donald Trump, it’s foreigners.

With Ted Cruz, it’s the party establishment and the “Washington Cartel.”

With Bernie Sanders, it’s the Wall Street bankers and overpaid CEO’s.

With Hilary Clinton, it’s that vast right wing conspiracy.

You know what? They are each right.

Trump is right. Globalization, high taxes and regulations, and an expensive work force have caused millions of jobs to be off shored.

Cruz is right. The political parties have placed their interests above that of their constituents.

Sanders is right. Big business usually becomes more and more successful at the expense of the consumer.

Clinton is right. Republicans would love to bring her down.

However…

Trump seems to be a bigot, and a few other things. A President Trump is a frightening thought.

Cruz doesn’t seem to be able to get along with anyone in government and not even one of his Senate colleagues has endorsed him. If he continues to dig in, gridlock would get even worse.

Sanders’s promises are unsustainable, would bury people with taxes, and fundamentally change America in some ways that have not yet occurred to his fans.

Clinton has walked on the edge of legality for a long, long time and most people don’t even trust her.

They each have just enough truth in their messages to be dangerous. Let’s think for a moment how vilifying a a group of people has worked out throughout history. We don’t need a villain. We need solutions. And solutions happen when all of the stakeholders get together and stay at it until they find common ground.

The Virtues

We have lost our ability to have civil discourse. That’s where you have important conversations with people you disagree with.

We have lost our taste for nuance. That’s where you make some changes in your viewpoint because of new information or experiences.

“Moderate” has become a bad word. Moderates are people who look for common ground. Unfortunately, we have allowed the political parties and the media to fuel our national polarization. Our governmental officials have to be people who can talk to people on other sides of the issue and find a win-win scenario. That’s what legislation is. That’s why there hasn’t been much congressional activity for years, other than bickering.

Sadly, the more moderate a candidate is, the lower his poll ratings.

It’s dark day in America because, we may get what we want, instead of what we need.

 

Photo Credit: John M. Cropper. Creative Commons.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is the author of An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith. He encourages independent minded people of faith through his writing, speaking, consulting, and one-on-one relationships.
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