The atmosphere in Washington and around the country is toxic. Politicians, government bureaucrats and partisan Americans are abandoning generally accepted standards of free discourse. This phenomenon has the potential to diminish our country unless there is a serious change in attitudes.
In the past Americans respected their leaders and lawmakers even if they were not politically aligned with them. The two-party system effectively prevents any one from overstepping their authority. The opposition party has very real power to prevent tyrannical actions by the party in power. Politicians are given ample time to debate the most controversial issues. In the past this was done in a collegial manner, and cocktails were served after the voting ended. No more is this the case.
The venom that each of our political parties has for the other is disgraceful. After all we are all on the same team and want only the best for America. Stereotyping of and mud slinging at opponents is the norm. It’s no wonder that fisticuffs have not taken place in the halls of Congress. During every political cycle competitors spend billions of dollars attempting to destroy the reputations of their opponents.
Disrespect flows between the executive and legislative branches of our government as well. Both groups need the other to create laws and policies to secure America and make it great. Without cooperation our government will remain in a perpetual state of paralysis.
Ironically social media has made it possible for an angry, self-centered president and sanctimonious partisan lawmakers to hurl epithets at each other and spread false rumors 24 hours a day.
The success of our nation is dependent upon compromise. An original issue facing our forefathers was the tension between federalism and states right. It was a bloody battle in which politicians fought over the division of power. In the end they worked it out with compromise. For the most part the federal government has had a balanced relationship with the states resulting in orderly rule of the country.
But recently some states and cities have unilaterally decided to spurn federal laws pertaining to illegal aliens. While the feds attempt to round up felons and troublemakers, local officials have provided sanctuary to all people who have entered the country illegally, and make it difficult to root out the bad apples.
To date the president has acted with restraint. There are many Americans that would like to see arrest warrants issued for local officials who intentionally violate federal law.
There is a relatively new craze among politicians and bureaucrats that is dramatically changing the landscape in Washington. It is called “leaking information.” Political hacks use this oft times illegal technique to spin situations to benefit their affiliates. In many situations the spin contains bold-faced lies or at a minimum omission of relevant facts.
With the election of Donald Trump leaking hit epic heights. Confidential conversations and information is disseminated to the press moments after meetings end. Sometimes it endangers agents and allies of the US. Our law enforcement officials are even leaking information in an effort to embarrass their political opponents. Investigations at the FBI are not kept secret. It appears that there are scores of officials with direct links to media. It is sad to see the liberal press participating in illegal passing of information without any real threat of sanctions.
Telling the whole truth is another rare commodity, even under oath. Perjury charges are being issued every day. Government officials lie without hesitation. Telling the truth in a courtroom environment is the cornerstone of our judicial system. No longer should liars be excused even if they are high ranking officials.
In personal settings it has become risky to discuss politics. These sessions have become gigantic grudge matches that often end in bad feelings pitting American against American. Liberals are trying to “help” conservatives see the light. When they don’t succeed, which is most of the time, liberals call their conservative opponents idiots. Of course the situation is often reversed.
Discourse leads to new ideas and progress. Americans not of similar political persuasions are no longer able to sit around a negotiating table or a dinner table and trade perspectives. The long-term impact of such a destructive environment could be significant.
And finally the media must be called out for violating sacred journalistic responsibilities and abetting great animosity in the country. The First Amendment protects the press from virtually any effort to constrain their activities. The continuation of this protection is dependent upon the press reporting the news in a fair and balance manner.
The evolution of commentary and op-ed sections of newspapers and on-air broadcasts gives the press the opportunity to express personal opinions. Yet reporting should be made without bias.
When reporting is fraught with bias it becomes counterintuitive to the objectives of our forefathers. It creates a risk for the press and invites governmental and legal interference.
Never in the history of the country has the press been as vicious and one-sided in its reporting. Major newspapers have allowed reporters to cross the line from pure journalism, and reporting of facts to educate readers, to personal commentary.
The most disappointing events in recent years have been the attacks on free speech on college campuses. Universities should be a place where all perspectives are tolerated and not censored. Berkeley, one of the bastions of free speech over the years, prevented a conservative speech.
When you consider all this degradation of national character and the death of comity in the country, you should be concerned. Americans must remember that they have the ultimate sledgehammer at the ballot box. Unrestricted dialog is important because it enables voters to make better choices with more information.