Growing up, I listened to politician after politician extol the virtues of unity. “We are stronger together,” or “We must come together so that America can realize its true potential,” were common themes and platitudes. Those on both sides of the political spectrum seem to have the notion that if only their policies are set in motion, the nation will eventually realize their virtues and accept society under a common effort.
Does that seem to have come to fruition? Anywhere close?
I’ve been on the planet for 45 years and I’ve found that the more government grows, the further it divides. The more our politicians portray themselves as messianic figures here to save us from our own sins, the more we become hostile to these false prophets. Worse, we become more hostile to the faithful who devote themselves to these self-appointed god-like figures.
I speak in religious terms because that’s what the American political system has become – a holy war. It’s now two religious sects waging a war to gain control of sacred land. Once power is acquired, the ruling party’s main goal is exacting revenge for the heresy of the opposition. “And now, the tables have turned,” … or the more blunt term, “Payback’s a bitch,” would seem to be the appropriate speech for any victorious political leader.
As I write this, President Trump is in the middle of signing his several executive orders. This act of power is now abhorrent to those who cheered when President Obama took the same action. One Facebook friend wrote as her status update:
“I hope all the political silence about challenging the recent changes in the USDA and EPA are because someone is planning on doing something big and amazing to stop this. Otherwise we are all in big trouble. What can I do?”
This is the song of the vanquished. The verse of the conquered frustrated that the level of political power she probably relished every stroke of Obama’s pen as he exercised his unconstitutional authority. She’ll no doubt remember this the next time a Democratic holy figure inhabits the White House and plots his or her revenge.
She’s certainly not alone in her frustration. But that’s what we’ve become – a divided nation of at least two different tribes keeping track of every trespass while preparing for the next election so that the proper revenge can be executed.
So I ask: Does government bring us together as it claims to do (or at least want to do)? Or is government a dangerous weapon coveted by different political persuasions to be used when the time is at hand?
Is this the system under which we want to continue to live? Wouldn’t a diminished centralized power bring us closer together? Shouldn’t our goal be to shake off the need to politicize every aspect of life… so much so that we harbor resentment when the opposing party implements policies contradictory to our individual values?
While the answer seems obvious, it seems even more apparent that voters have little interest in letting go of the opportunity to bring their political opponents to heel. And given the political climate, it will only get worse. Trump will no doubt inspire Democrats to nominate Elizabeth Warren, or someone of equal populist rage, to wrestle power away from our billionaire president. And if she does, whoa Nellie. God have mercy on us.
The only true answer is to take away as much power as possible from the Washington elite, and place more responsibility on the individual, where it should be. When we stop politicizing our existence, only then can we live united.