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The more things change…

U.S. Capitol at nightThe erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America. …

It is the idea which founded our nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else — public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We’ve always believed in something called progress. We’ve always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.

Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. …

The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. …

Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our nation’s life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends. …

13 Comments »

  1. While there have been many contentious ups and downs in American politics over the years, and it was probably worst just before the Civil War, I do believe the country is entering a new phase now, and not a good one. For most of our history we have been a bellicose and expansionist country.

    War, for all its problems, is always good for two things – unity under fear and technological productivity, and it has been one war after another. Until now. The War on Terror is not a war in the traditional sense, and it is not bringing our people together, it is dividing us. That’s because you can not win a war against a concept, only a nation.

    The other big change is that there is no more expansion. Hawaii was the last state added, only a half century ago, and our population is stagnating for the first time. The resident birth rate is at or below the maintenance rate. We are kicking out of the country the people who pick the crops, mow the grass, make the beds and care for the elderly and incontinent, and that at a time when the economy is in a tailspin from the regulatory laxity that catered to the national self-indulgence.

    I don’t see these trends reversing, despite Newt Gingrich’s recent soft moment on immigration policy. The mood of the body politic seems to be one of paranoia and anger, and no matter which Republican might be elected, no Carter-like speech is likely to help. I think Obama has the right rhetorical skills and the right policies, if the economy will ever turn around, but his greatest negative is a pervasive ethnic prejudice in conservatives. While that is diminished from prior eras, it is still a big factor, and as for the economy, I don’t see that turning around without entitlement reform. That’s not going to happen because people don’t understand it – self indulgence is too big a part of our national psyche.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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