Following the disgrace of President Clinton’s impeachment trial and Al Gore’s loss in the presidential election of 2000, Democrats were disheartened and in disarray. After an appropriate period of fixing the blame and crying in their beer (or martini or Manhattan) they became unified and decided to “move-on,” and why wouldn’t they want to?
They picked up the pieces and soon their political energies were directed at the Bush administration’s trying to make life miserable with help from the liberal media. The Iraq war was declared lost by none other than Senate Leader Harry Reid; Nancy Pelosi tried her mischievous brand of diplomacy to disrupt supplies to our military in the middle east. In spite of their efforts, the “surge” turned things around in Iraq.
In 2008, Barack H. Obama arrived on the national political scene with assists from Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey and others. Prayers were answered; he was the embodiment of progressive/liberal ideology — thanks were given to nature, or whoever/ whatever sent the “perfect candidate.” Books about the perfect candidate proliferated, bookstores overflowed, songs were written, school children cheered, women fainted and tingles tantalized the leg of at least one TV pundit. All was well in “liberaland,” our country was saved from those gosh-awful conservatives.
Recently, Republicans lost the presidential election, their second in a row; a sense of disunity and confusion reigns in some quarters. Perhaps it’s time for the GOP to move on, not in the sense of moving away from conservative principles or maintaining that the Constitution is the bedrock of our nation. Maybe it is time to re-assess who we are as a nation; our common values as well as our differences and implement a plan to unify not only the party but the country.
Maybe the disunity of our people is fueled by the stress of economic uncertainty with invasive governmental interference, increased taxes and loss of freedoms. In addition, the pressures of a nation that has long been “king of the hill” and has become the target of many nations that would like to take us down a notch or two, add to the personal stress of those individuals in the margins of society. Maybe this adds fuel to creating a citizenry that is becoming obsessed with violence and triggers actions in those who are prone to violent behavior.
President George H.W. Bush envisioned a kinder, gentler people and nation. In many respects, we’ve become the antithesis of that ideal. Not that Americans don’t believe in kindness or practice giving and being helpful to one another, even to those in other countries, we do. And we do it without political party labels. I personally know as many Democrats as Republicans who fit this ideal. You may also.
Yet there are within us as a nation, a growing number of individuals who need help of a psychiatric nature, who have violent tendencies and can and are pushed over their limit. This seems to beg the question; what, if anything, can political parties do to help lower the frustrations and stress of the citizenry? Hopefully the answer is not, “nothing.”
Political parties guide and advance the agenda of a particular ideology. They influence those elected because they can help make or break a candidate or office holder. They don’t make law or create policy; they do exert great influence over what happens in our state and national capitols. Given the power of political parties, it would seem that we have two parties that are polar opposites when it comes to deciding what is best for us as a nation. But parties are made up of people, and people have the power to vote. So it seems that our people are at polar opposites, or are they? It is really about what or who influences the vote and the degree to which the voter is informed on a particular issue. And that dear friends, is what the Constitution is all about; a free people acting in their own best interest and in the best interest of the nation.
No one knew this better than our first president, George Washington, who said: “The power under the Constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for certain limited periods, to the representatives —.” Yet we see a growing effort to discredit the Constitution, to increase powers of government and to ignore the time limits of representatives.
It seems that the only way to reverse current trends is for Democrats and Republicans to unify through the efforts of citizen voters. There is reason to believe in the good of those around you and their desire for a prosperous, peaceful, and civil nation and to make the effort to unify our country.
Attractive as it is to believe, or even hope that our country can overcome great adversity, history tells us a different story. Great nations have, over time, always fallen in one way or another, through internal corruption or external pressures and wars. While we may be able to continue on our current path and go into deep decline, morally and economically, only to be steered back at the last minute — it’s a chancy proposition to risk doing so.
As a member of the “check-out” generation, what happens to this country will have little consequence for us; we do have great concern for this and future generations. A future that must be planned for now.
John W. Reynolds lives in Pleasant View.