Americans with different political persuasions have disagreed with each other ever since our forefathers founded this country. The negotiations that led to the formation of our republic were extremely intense.
Over the years American politicians have fought about and dealt with many serious issues including states’ rights, slavery, declarations of war and so much more. Unfortunately leaders and lawmakers of today have intensified their confrontations. With great encouragement from the press and social media, we now live in world where a new crisis arises from disparaging remarks and bad behavior every day.
Liberals attribute the nasty and unproductive environment to the election Donald Trump. He epitomizes the essence of hardball politics. He believes performance and winning supersedes all else. Sensitivity, empathy, humility, comity and truthful interface are no longer values that political adversaries care about.
But it’s not just about Trump. There are others who provoke, slander and lie to gain an edge. Politics is a dirty business practiced on both sides of the aisle.
Even more disconcerting is an unbridled media that happily reports the most sordid and hurtful actions and comments of others to gain notoriety and readership. No longer do reporters skirt certain issues to temper scandal. No longer is reporting unbiased and factual. The press bares great responsibility for the current state of affairs. They are a pack of wolves, desperate to tear apart and ruin a person or organization before all the facts have been analyzed. A scoop, even it is untrue, is what the press thrives on.
Exacerbating the lower standards of the protected fifth estate are social media trolls who, for both profit and sport, eviscerate others with unfounded gossip, bias and exaggeration. A single “dirty” item can spread across the globe in a hear beat as part of a “viral” moment. Even the term viral has a negative connotation relating to disease.
What are the implications of incivility to our society? For one thing it is driving away good people from public service. Why would a judge want to become a Supreme Court justice given the insulting and degrading confirmation process? Why would anyone want to be a legislator and dedicate most of their time to raising money for the next election, and trying, every day, to impress aggressive journalists? The current system has us struggling to find one really qualified person to be our next president. And, what about the pathetic and incompetent individuals that are elected mayors of great cities and governors of our states?
Some people have used our Constitution to justify the application of money in our elections, a serious mistake. No longer are winners the most qualified candidates. Rather the elected are the best fundraisers. The importance of money ahs been turbo charged by trying to prove that campaign contributions are an element of free speech.
Do we want leaders who are experts at creating vicious political advertisement, or men and women whose principal objective is to keep America great? Being reelected, and raising the money to accomplish it, is all that is important to politicians these days.
And finally there is the issue of term limits. Without limits, corruption and entitlement flourish. The old must make way for the young. The usefulness of a politician is offset by his or her personal idiosyncrasies over an extended period of time. And ironically, the only people who can bring us the blessings of term limits are the ones who will lose their jobs with term limits.