From the Right: A nation disengaged
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 02:10
A descendent of the Adams political family reflected in his Magnus opus, The Education of Henry Adams, that even as early as the 1870s, America was a nation changed. It was a nation shaken by the Civil War and the reconstruction that followed. It was a nation that began with such pride and promise at its inception. But slowly it crumbled as the pillars on which the framers constructed the society began to deteriorate and was chipped away as politicians abdicated shortsighted gain over the national interest. The citizenry disengaged from the active involvement required for a democracy to thrive, and more importantly, to survive.
To say Adams became disillusioned is a great understatement. So where are we today? America 2013. Has the country continued on the same trajectory that Henry Adams wrote about in his book? Unfortunately, yes, and that trend will only continue and worsen until the politicians start acting like servants for the national good and we the people refuse to tune out from the day-to-day rigors of politics.
America circa 2013 and America circa 1870 is a nation no longer attuned to the very principles on which the country was founded. To say the Constitution is expired - as Henry Adams wrote - would certainly make great sense. If the very document is held up as simply an artifact and nothing more and nothing less, then this a nation going under. But there’s more than ignorance of the Constitution or forgotten basic principles written and declared in the Declaration and our Constitution that all men are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The recent tremor in the America society is as true today as it was when Henry Adams published his work. No longer does logic or reason win the day in America. Only the loudest and the strongest are triumphant.
Brinksmanship in politics is not a strategy of success. It is a tactic and a mere attempt to drive the political discourse in such an ugly and repulsive direction that the only outcome is all out war between two sides. Take the recent debacles in Congress over the pending government shutdown. ObamaCare is a bad law and it should be fixed, but until there is a Republican president nothing will change. Unfortunately there are some in Congress who prop up the issue and use Capitol Hill as a soapbox to profess diatribes. This is not governing. This is demonizing. This is unprincipled and contrary to the type of politics the founders envisioned.
In a different time before politicians used anger as a strategy leaders actually made coherent arguments using logic and reason – not props and sideshow antics. The founders were scholars and political battles were won by the merit of one’s ideas. Reason and logic triumphed over irrationalness and pettiness. The nature of political discourse was never personal. Leaders contrasted with one another intelligently. The Federalist Papers is a crystal clear example of the type of nuance missing from the political debates today. The likes of Alexander Hamilton and Robert Yates engaged in a battle of ideas and their debates showcased their fervor, but always in the most constructed and astute manner.
I lament the politics of today. Sadly, America is in the same position Henry Adams found it during his life serving this country. A nation that dispelled logic and reason, a nation bankrupt in more ways than one. Certainly the framers would gasp in utter shock to see the state of their experiment and the nature of the discourse in America today. But, ever the eternal optimist, all is not lost. To say, at the very least, this country can come roaring back and return to the very principles instilled at the nation’s founding.
In this era, we as Americans, find ourselves with an abysmal Congress: a polarizing president and general gridlock of bitterness and pettiness that can be reversed. I like to think of this as an era of silliness. A time where we seem to have, at the very least, have forgotten who we are and what we stand for – or at least what we stood for. If the American people are committed to this nation’s endurance there will be a great awakening.
Today, and when Henry Adams was alive, the solutions will not come from Washington, but from the people. A groundswell of support from the Americans will decry the politics of the old and ask for a politics of new. Politics that is neither divisive nor narrow-minded.
It is the people. The people of this country from the rocky coast of Maine and the sunny beaches of Florida, to the heartland of America, the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast. The true majesty of this country lies with an informed and engaged citizenry. Let us return to that thinking. Let us engage. Let us standup. Let us end the sideshows in Congress and aim for a new beginning that adheres to the very principles enshrined in our Constitution and keep with the very tradition of what it means to be an American.
Now the question might be how do we, the people, make this possible? Sadly, there is no magic wand to fix our problems. Some might say it’s time to call for a new Constitution and system of government. I have unyielding faith in the framework built by the founders. So how do we resolve our problems? The easiest and most difficult way: voting. Voting for candidates, who care more about the future of the country rather than the pettiness of politics.
Let us recommit ourselves to active participation in the democratic process. Let us fix our country. Let us restore our country to what it once was so that generations to come have a bright, prosperous and hopeful future. What more can be asked?