The U.S., by virtue of its constitutional framework, has trials, tribulations and reconciliations baked into its ongoing existence. This is part of its genius, even if it sometimes produces periods with a frightening undertow of dissent.
Under the guidance of the values and ideals contained in this framework, it’s virtually impossible to find a status quo that will work equally well for everyone across time. This realization was conceded from the very beginning, as illustrated by the quote below.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States…”
As a result, the real world dynamics of growth and change are apt to periodically arouse some measure of truly notable disruption, as the nation gets forced into the position of having to adapt in accord with its constitutional values.
In recent decades, that measure of disruption has been somewhat radical—technological, demographic, business, social, political, environmental and economic hiccups have converged to create a level of upheaval that stands apart as among the more convulsive periods we’ve ever encountered. Not quite as bad as the Civil War, but possibly commensurate to the Vietnam War/Civil Rights Movement era.
Consequently, we have choices to make, especially as “we the people” become roused from a period of relative apathy (probably starting around the end of the Vietnam War) to a period of enlivened re-engagement.
But will we remain positive and hopeful or become self-flagellating and pessimistic? Will we wrest control from people, groups and organizations (e.g., corporate interference/lobbying, wealth concentration and illegal gerrymandering, to name a few) and rightfully put it back in the hands of the people?
Will we find pathways for productive engagement as opposed to destructive engagement?
Will we accept self-responsibility and self-accountability as opposed to simply placing fault and blame elsewhere?
Will we work towards becoming an informed citizenry, bound together by ethics and integrity, as opposed to strictly relying on the emotional hijackings that now seem to prevail?
Will we use the supposed higher order thinking of our human stature to negotiate reasonable compromise as opposed to intransigent rigidity?
James Allworth, for example, wrote a thoughtful and interesting piece titled, Prioritizing Economics is Crippling the U.S. Economy, that merits consideration in this discussion, insofar as it affects the very DNA upon which this country was originally built.
“Ironically, it was another economist, David Moss, who has best made this case. Moss spent the past five years doing a deep dive on American democracy, with a view to understanding whether what we’re seeing in the political sphere right now really is different to what has happened in the past.
In reviewing hundreds of years of policy debates, Moss began to notice that something very fundamental had changed. Up until (roughly) the end of World War 2, almost all policy were organized around a central theme: impact on democracy. The question would be asked: what was this going to mean for our democracy? From both sides of the political spectrum, there was a common commitment to strengthening and preserving democratic ideals.
But, starting around the time of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and taking full effect by roughly the end of the 1940s, that changed.
No longer was the focus on democracy. Economic growth pushed it into the background.”
And here’s another train of thought that merits consideration: If you believe in the relatively new movement concerning the notion of Sustainability, we must bring into balance policies that involve our social, economic and environmental activities. These three must be made to work in harmony with each other, as opposed to one working at the expense of the others.
We, the citizenry upon which this country depends for ongoing survival, have choices to make.
First and foremost, it begins with learning how to communicate across ideological boundaries, as opposed to merely and automatically disparaging the other side — the latter of which hardly employs the higher order thinking we’re supposedly capable of.