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ICYMI: We must stop destroying our institutions

America enters 2021 still in the grip of a pandemic. One of the reasons coronavirus continues to burrow ever deeper into our society is the attack on science has succeeded; sufficient numbers of Americans believe coronavirus falls somewhere on a continuum of flu to hoax.

The undermining of science is just one example of the corrosive success the left and the right have had in attacking America’s institutions. Should they continue to win, the U.S. will continue to decline.

And let’s be honest: Ours is a country in decline.

We can point to the left and to the right and find examples of glee in hollowing out one institution or another. I have no intention to list those here or offer a stern finger-wagging at the guilty parties. Both sides have done it, and both sides have established the dissolution of one institution or another as orthodoxy. Dare you question that orthodoxy if you wish to stay in the good graces of your camp.

Americans must recommit to an affirmation of the value, dare I say in some cases the sanctity, of the institutions that assisted in making us the envy of the world. This means demanding

-public education at all levels be financed to ensure students learn professional and life skills and don’t leave college with crippling debt;

-the arts be given resources to allow for enriching and vital programs about culture, music, literature, history and more;

-legitimate scientific inquiry be supported;

-local, state and federal government agencies be afforded the respect they deserve (no, government ought not be the enemy);

-the three branches of government be represented by men and women of distinction, not merely people with often lifetime seats allowing the holders to be spreaders of virulent nonsense without sanction;

-houses of worship be classified as holy places with our major religions viewed with reverence and not as passe;

-the news media be determined (perhaps required?) to reestablish international news bureaus so that Americans have the opportunity to see how issues “there” resonate “here.”

I accept that institutions are inanimate objects; the people who work within them and the public that evaluates them are the arbiters of an institution’s success. But I’m tired of seeing despicable attacks on these institutions from groups with no other agenda then tearing down.

Do some people inside institutions make unforgivable mistakes? Yes. Are they sometimes corrupt or evil? Absolutely. And when they are, they should be rooted out and replaced by individuals who want to do right. That’s true whether the institution is educational, political, religious, or something else.

Mind you, reinforcing our institutions won’t be enough to, yes I’m going to say it, make America great again. There also must be a commitment from people who sit on their high horses of arrogance to agree to frank conversations about complex challenges such as race, gun rights, voting and immigration (that’s not the full list). We must stop seeing almost every issue as a kind-of life and death struggle wrapped around simplistic rhetoric screaming that the nation won’t survive if the other side gets its way.

I want to be optimistic and want to believe that this nation of roughly 340 million people is committed to doing what it will take to improve the country. We are stewards of this country, including the soil at our feet and the air above our heads. It is not our responsibility to make America “for me.” Instead, it is to ensure that when the next generation replaces us that they are handed a stronger, healthier, smarter nation that continues to support this fragile theory of democracy.

We must be better. Will we be?

What do you think? Remember, do not reply on Facebook or Twitter. Post any comments in the box at the bottom of this blog.

ICYMI: We must stop destroying our institutions

America enters 2021 still in the grip of a pandemic. One of the reasons coronavirus continues to burrow ever deeper into our society is the attack on science has succeeded; sufficient numbers of Americans believe coronavirus falls somewhere on a continuum of flu to hoax.

The undermining of science is just one example of the corrosive success the left and the right have had in attacking America’s institutions. Should they continue to win, the U.S. will continue to decline.

And let’s be honest: Ours is a country in decline.

We can point to the left and to the right and find examples of glee in hollowing out one institution or another. I have no intention to list those here or offer a stern finger-wagging at the guilty parties. Both sides have done it, and both sides have established the dissolution of one institution or another as orthodoxy. Dare you question that orthodoxy if you wish to stay in the good graces of your camp.

Americans must recommit to an affirmation of the value, dare I say in some cases the sanctity, of the institutions that assisted in making us the envy of the world. This means demanding

-public education at all levels be financed to ensure students learn professional and life skills and don’t leave college with crippling debt;

-the arts be given resources to allow for enriching and vital programs about culture, music, literature, history and more;

-legitimate scientific inquiry be supported;

-local, state and federal government agencies be afforded the respect they deserve (no, government ought not be the enemy);

-the three branches of government be represented by men and women of distinction, not merely people with often lifetime seats allowing the holders to be spreaders of virulent nonsense without sanction;

-houses of worship be classified as holy places with our major religions viewed with reverence and not as passe;

-the news media be determined (perhaps required?) to reestablish international news bureaus so that Americans have the opportunity to see how issues “there” resonate “here.”

I accept that institutions are inanimate objects; the people who work within them and the public that evaluates them are the arbiters of an institution’s success. But I’m tired of seeing despicable attacks on these institutions from groups with no other agenda then tearing down.

Do some people inside institutions make unforgivable mistakes? Yes. Are they sometimes corrupt or evil? Absolutely. And when they are, they should be rooted out and replaced by individuals who want to do right. That’s true whether the institution is educational, political, religious, or something else.

Mind you, reinforcing our institutions won’t be enough to, yes I’m going to say it, make America great again. There also must be a commitment from people who sit on their high horses of arrogance to agree to frank conversations about complex challenges such as race, gun rights, voting and immigration (that’s not the full list). We must stop seeing almost every issue as a kind-of life and death struggle wrapped around simplistic rhetoric screaming that the nation won’t survive if the other side gets its way.

I want to be optimistic and want to believe that this nation of roughly 340 million people is committed to doing what it will take to improve the country. We are stewards of this country, including the soil at our feet and the air above our heads. It is not our responsibility to make America “for me.” Instead, it is to ensure that when the next generation replaces us that they are handed a stronger, healthier, smarter nation that continues to support this fragile theory of democracy.

We must be better. Will we be?

What do you think? Remember, do not reply on Facebook or Twitter. Post any comments in the box at the bottom of this blog.

We must stop destroying our institutions

America enters 2021 still in the grip of a pandemic. One of the reasons coronavirus continues to burrow ever deeper into our society is the attack on science has succeeded; sufficient numbers of Americans believe coronavirus falls somewhere on a continuum of flu to hoax.

The undermining of science is just one example of the corrosive success the left and the right have had in attacking America’s institutions. Should they continue to win, the U.S. will continue to decline.

And let’s be honest: Ours is a country in decline.

We can point to the left and to the right and find examples of glee in hollowing out one institution or another. I have no intention to list those here or offer a stern finger-wagging at the guilty parties. Both sides have done it, and both sides have established the dissolution of one institution or another as orthodoxy. Dare you question that orthodoxy if you wish to stay in the good graces of your camp.

Americans must recommit to an affirmation of the value, dare I say in some cases the sanctity, of the institutions that assisted in making us the envy of the world. This means demanding

-public education at all levels be financed to ensure students learn professional and life skills and don’t leave college with crippling debt;

-the arts be given resources to allow for enriching and vital programs about culture, music, literature, history and more;

-legitimate scientific inquiry be supported;

-local, state and federal government agencies be afforded the respect they deserve (no, government ought not be the enemy);

-the three branches of government be represented by men and women of distinction, not merely people with often lifetime seats allowing the holders to be spreaders of virulent nonsense without sanction;

-houses of worship be classified as holy places with our major religions viewed with reverence and not as passe;

-the news media be determined (perhaps required?) to reestablish international news bureaus so that Americans have the opportunity to see how issues “there” resonate “here.”

I accept that institutions are inanimate objects; the people who work within them and the public that evaluates them are the arbiters of an institution’s success. But I’m tired of seeing despicable attacks on these institutions from groups with no other agenda then tearing down.

Do some people inside institutions make unforgivable mistakes? Yes. Are they sometimes corrupt or evil? Absolutely. And when they are, they should be rooted out and replaced by individuals who want to do right. That’s true whether the institution is educational, political, religious, or something else.

Mind you, reinforcing our institutions won’t be enough to, yes I’m going to say it, make America great again. There also must be a commitment from people who sit on their high horses of arrogance to agree to frank conversations about complex challenges such as race, gun rights, voting and immigration (that’s not the full list). We must stop seeing almost every issue as a kind-of life and death struggle wrapped around simplistic rhetoric screaming that the nation won’t survive if the other side gets its way.

I want to be optimistic and want to believe that this nation of roughly 340 million people is committed to doing what it will take to improve the country. We are stewards of this country, including the soil at our feet and the air above our heads. It is not our responsibility to make America “for me.” Instead, it is to ensure that when the next generation replaces us that they are handed a stronger, healthier, smarter nation that continues to support this fragile theory of democracy.

We must be better. Will we be?

What do you think? Remember, do not reply on Facebook or Twitter. Post any comments in the box at the bottom of this blog.

Four more years

It’s possible that within hours “President-elect” will be attached to Joe Biden’s name.

For the more than 70-million Americans who voted for him, this will be great news. For the almost 70-million Americans who didn’t, this will not be.

Biden’s win —and it appears from an Electoral College standpoint it might be as narrow as 270-268 — affirms America remains a divided nation: Roughly half of us who voted did so to endorse the promise (and uncertainty) of tomorrow, while roughly half of us chose to endorse the memory (and certainty) of yesterday. Those ideologies will remain baked into our political DNA.

For four more years.

That divide would be acceptable if the two camps actually enjoyed positive relationships with each other. They don’t. And because of that distrust, dislike and disdain, the real challenges that face this country seem destined to stay in gridlock.

For another four years.

Does anyone see any reason why the Republicans, who likely will retain a majority in the Senate (likely 51-49), will treat President Biden with any respect? Led by their disgusting majority leader, the GOP did everything possible to stall Barack Obama’s political agenda. They will do the same.

For four more years.

All the nonsense talk about Russia gumming up elections, China trying to cyberattack everything, and Iran itching for war masks a more important war: the view millions of Americans have of the other side of the political aisle being the enemy. That’s not going to change.

For four more years.

Good luck, Mr. Biden.

America’s political rigidity

Blame it on the echo chamber.

Or perhaps blame it on fear.

Or perhaps blame it on anger.

Whatever the cause(s), too many Americans have wrapped themselves in their political orthodoxy. It must be a suffocating cloak.

The left will tell you that those on the right have become fascist-loving, race-baiting, Bible-thumping bigots. Turn your head to the right and you’ll find people telling you that those on the left are police-hating, socialist-dreaming, abortion-loving losers.

Perhaps the only thing the two sides will agree upon is the other side just doesn’t get it. Come to think of it, they’ll also agree that the other side is preventing America from moving forward.

Now that’s a fine way to create a healthy discourse.

To suggest that Donald Trump is responsible for this mess is folly. Sure, the president, on multiple occasions before and since his successful 2016 election, has thrown gas on the raging fire, but that fire had been burning for almost 25 years.

Two southern, Republican “gentleman” deserve far more blame than Trump for causing this fiasco. It was Newt Gingrich who used the 1994 midterm elections to establish the idea that Republicans should define Democrats simply as the enemy; their presence in Washington was a heavy weight that could sink the “Contract with America.”

Later, Mitch McConnell saw the first black president in American history simply as someone who had to be removed after just one term. McConnell welcomed the idea that the GOP was the “Party of No,” and had an obligation to place as many roadblocks as possible in front of Barack Obama.

By time Trump came along, hatred for the left and for anything resembling a progressive ideology had been baked into the right’s thinking.

Some of you reading this post have reached a conclusion at this point: Typical liberal.

Well…if I’m one of those liberals, then tell me why I also believe those Democrats who argue illegal immigrants should automatically receive multi-faceted government assistance are wrong. You thought I was going to wade into the abortion fight, didn’t you? Well, since you asked, I’ve always found it curious when the few pro-life Democrats contort their personal beliefs around the idea that abortion is a decided issue. Pick a side: pro-life or pro-choice.

Meanwhile, let’s be clear that the right is in denial when it suggests abortions will stop if Roe v Wade is overturned. Women will still terminate their pregnancies, and in ways that will increase the chances of harming themselves for years to come. We could have that conversation, but, you know, culture wars are so much fun. The right’s sanctimonious attitude about abortion is awful, but the pro-life Democrats who won’t take their personal beliefs beyond fence straddling are weak, in my opinion.

Next, if I’m such a liberal, please tell me why I think free college education is a ridiculous idea. The number one reason public college tuition is so grotesquely priced is because approaching two decades now both parties repeatedly have slashed funding earmarked for higher education. If states’ governors and legislators would do the right thing and reaffirm the importance of college, then this silly idea of making college free could go away.

I could go on, but the point has been made: political rigidity reflects poorly on the nation. I can hear the left reminding me that the right pines for an America that has long since been sent into the history books. (Gotta tell you, there’s a lot to that past that ought never again see the light of day.) And I can also hear the right telling me that the left is ready to reject any semblance of honor and pride in its lust to give something to everybody. (Gotta tell you, I agree with some of this, but let’s not go deep into the weeds.)

Yes, conservative and liberal values are good, and conservative and liberal policies have merit. Damn crazy Independent, I am.

One way to start changing the political dynamic in America: stop electing people such as Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Richard Shelby, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, and Chuck Schumer. Clear out those who espouse hate or represent political entitlement by returning to office again and again (and for no apparent good reason).