America’s in trouble. We’re in danger of losing our national identity and unity, of becoming irrelevant to ourselves and to the world, no longer the shining light of freedom and participative government.
And the only group in America which can stop and reverse this authorship of the decline of America is the one which created it.
Here are some facts about the economic, social, political and moral divisions in America today.
- Only 26 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is headed in the right direction.
- Almost 80% disapprove of Congress’s performance.
- The middle class has become a minority. In 2015, for the first time in history, Americans in the middle-income bracket didn’t comprise the majority of the country; the rich above and the poor below the middle class made up half the population.
- We argue about whose lives matter and whose don’t. Eighty-eight percent of blacks say the country needs to continue making changes for blacks to have equal rights with whites, just 8% say the country has already made the necessary changes, but 43% are skeptical that such changes will ever occur. Only 53% of whites say the country still has work to do for blacks to achieve equal rights with whites, 38% say enough changes have already been made and only 11% express doubt that these changes will come.
- Billionaires and special interest groups wield donations to control and manipulate elections. PACs from outside of Georgia, for example, spend millions to support our state’s candidates, who accept the money.
- Citizens are threatening to leave the U.S. if either candidate wins the election.
The nominations of Clinton and Trump (in alphabetical order with nothing implied) reflect these divisions in America.
- Fifty-eight percent of Americans rate both presidential candidates unfavorably.
- Ninety-four percent of Trump’s backers say he is more honest and trustworthy, 70% of those behind Clinton say she is; 17% believe neither of them are.
- Eighty-one percent of Americans say they would feel afraid after the election of one of the two polarizing politicians, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. That includes 25% who say it doesn’t matter who wins: They’re terrified of both. I’m in the latter group.
- Three-quarters of voters say their selection of president in the election roughly two months from now would be motivated more by a desire to keep either Trump or Clinton out of the Oval Office rather than voting for the candidate who shares their views on the issues or is the more qualified to hold the office. It’s a lesser-of-two-evils choice.
Congress is gridlocked by partisanship. Moderate members of both parties have been pushed out by special interests with campaign contributions. The group of centrist Democrats, known as Blue Dogs, “have been all but eviscerated from the House over the last few elections.”
Our next president will have at least one, but more likely several, vacancies to fill on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The appointments will determine the direction of the Supreme Court for a generation when it comes to decisions about everything from religious freedom and states’ rights to abortion and same-sex marriage. “There is no more important issue in this election than the Supreme Court.”
The group which created this environment of social and political polarization in America, and the only one which can stop and reverse it?
It’s the group whose delegates selected the two presidential candidates at their parties’ conventions.
Take a selfie. Look at it. You’re looking at a key member of the group – the American voter and non-voter. It’s YOU. I see the same thing in my selfie. It’s ME.
We created the problems. We’re the ones who elect people to represent us. We’re the only ones who change the polarization in our country and put it back on track.
“When asked directly about the legality of abortion, 56% of U.S. adults say it should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 41% who say it should be illegal all or most of the time. In both cases, these figures have remained relatively stable for at least two decades.”
QUESTION: If state legislatures and Congress were representing the people, then why aren’t the votes 56% for a woman’s right to choose and 41% against?
“. . . in 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a margin of 57% to 35%. Since then, support for same-sex marriage has steadily grown. Based on polling in 2016, a majority of Americans (55%) support same-sex marriage, compared with 37% who oppose it.”
QUESTION: If state legislatures and Congress were representing the people, then why aren’t the votes for same sex marriage legislation 57% and 37% against?
In 1999, 70% of Americans favored allowing daily prayer to be spoken in the classroom. In 2000, it was 68%, 66% in 2001 and 61% in 2014. Seventy-four percent supported allowing schools to display the Ten Commandments.
QUESTION: If state legislatures and Congress were representing the people, then why aren’t the votes for same allowing more than 60% for allowing prayer in schools?
Arguably, the practice was deemed by the SCOTUS to conflict with the separation of church and state doctrine. Who appointed the SCOTUS justices? The president, with approval of the Senate. Who elects the president and senators? Look again at the selfie. It’s YOU and ME.
If YOU AND I want to save America, wants to eliminate the polarizing and gridlocking insistence that everyone agree to what s/he believes, wants bipartisanship and compromise to be the rule rather than the exception, there’s a solution.
Forget the presidential election. Forget party loyalty.
Focus on the candidates down the tickets – senators and congresswo/men, governors and lieutenant governors, members of the state legislature, county and local governments.
Don’t assume that they’re qualified and willing to represent the views and desires YOU AND I hold just because they’re on the ballot. All that takes is the money to register and filing the papers. Ever voted for someone running unopposed? Why? Because no one opposed them.
And don’t assume that they’re qualified and willing if the process of getting on the ballot required supporters and financial support. Who are the supporters and contributors? Do they share the viewpoints YOU AND I have?
Question them. Examine their backgrounds, their positions, the way they conduct their campaigns. Find moderate candidates who understand the role in our democratic process and will represent YOU AND ME instead of his/her position or those of the special interest groups to which s/he’s obligated. Who practice the skills of listening to those with opposing views and position, and are willing to negotiate and compromise for the greater good.
Work to get them elected.
Register to vote and vote.
Re-electing the same people over and over and over, essentially providing them with a lucrative professional career for life, is the traditional definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.
If YOU AND I, don’t want to save America, eliminate the polarization and gridlock, bipartisanship and the lack of compromise, however, this entire proposition is moot.
And the threat the future 16th U.S. and first GOP president foretold 178 years ago will come to pass.
“Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! . . . . At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reaches us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.”
 Direction of the Country. RealClear Politics. Retrieved from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/direction_of_country-902.html
 Congressional Job Approval. RealClear Politics. Retrieved from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/congressional_job_approval-903.html
 The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground: No longer the majority and falling behind financially. (December 9, 2015). Pew Research Center, Social & Demographic Trends. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/
 Newport, F. (Jul26,2016). For First Time, Trump’s Image on Par With Clinton’s. Gallup: Opinion. http://www.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/194000/first-time-trump-image-par-clinton.aspx
 Agiesta, J., CNN Polling Director. (September 7, 2016). Poll: Nine weeks out, a near even race. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/06/_politics-zone-injection/trump-vs-clinton-presidential-polls-election-2016/
 Hatch, O.G. (September 13, 2016.) Opinion/Commentary: A Clinton win would ensure the most liberal Supreme Court in 80 years. The next president’s picks mean the difference between democracy and tyranny. The Washington Times. [Hatch is a Republican senator from Utah, President pro tempore of the Senate.] Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/jz4go4m.
 Lipka, M. (June 27, 2016). 5 facts about abortion. Pew Research: FactTank. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/27/5-facts-about-abortion/.
 Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage. (May 12, 2016). Pew Research: Religion & Public Life. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2016/05/12/changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/