I’ve never comfortably labeled myself as a liberal or a conservative, as I see myself somewhere in between the stiff definitions both seem to have, especially now. The terms in our current political arena have lost their broader meanings to become almost comic caricatures of their former selves.
The American political landscape has become a war zone of almost cosmic proportions, based too much upon snide innuendo and self-righteous posturing. The two extremes are rich fodder for SNL skits, but the rivalry is no longer amusing, but rather poses an ugly and dangerous precedent that may leave other nations like Russia and North Korea in fits of laughter at seeing us destroy ourselves on the world stage. The far right has turned President Trump into an icon who can do no wrong, so that wearing blinders has become the norm for them, as they bristle when others point out his gaffs and sarcastic tweets. It is a kind of worship without any criticism of someone whose ego is already grotesquely inflated and makes the more liberal voters see him as being worse than Nero and Caligula ever were in ancient Rome. Everything the president thinks is blithely tweeted, which may comfort some into believing that anyone who is so apparently transparent and naïve, blurting his every thought, must be an honest man.
There seems to be no middle ground anymore. Extreme conservatives seem to excuse every gaff and cruel, fifth-grade insult (or at least seem not to care) the White House makes on a daily basis. While those on the more liberal left attack almost everything the president says or does. I don’t know if his fifth-grade vocabulary is a political tactic to woo the majority of his base or if it is no guise at all and represents his true intellectual level. I do know that he’s on stage all the time anyway and sees himself as the star of every event at every moment.
I believe we’re all weary of trying to prop up our beliefs in the face of vicious verbal attack. We have become a battlefield of righteous opposition, like the North versus the South during our horrendous Civil War of the 1860’s. There is bitterness and rancor on both sides. Our once shared values seem to be terribly out of focus.
It’s time to see again what we might share as a nation, despite our many other splintered and varied values (under only one flag) and stop constantly reducing one side or the other to comic rubble. Both sides have issues and values worth considering and sharing, especially if we can stand back far enough to see the broader view. There have always been disagreements between Dems and the GOP, but I don’t recall another era (even the 1960’s) when the political arena was often just a Punch and Judy show, based too often solely upon the words “conservative” or “liberal.” We need a clearer and more accurate view of what those terms actually mean by stepping back to see them with greater clarity and honesty.
The term “one nation” in the Pledge of Allegiance has lost its meaning since the days when, as children, we recited the words in elementary schools of the 1950’s. Boxing gloves aren’t as effective for the nation as discussion and reasoning, minus the red-hot emotions we have seen so frequently the past three years, replacing those gloves with a reluctance to turn every issue into a political scoreboard.
In fact, everything boils down to the next election. Having observed carefully and honestly (we hope) everything over the past three years, people just need to make sure they vote after taking all the hyped up rage manufactured by those who prefer an adrenalin rush instead of facts and balance. Gut feelings and truth don’t always agree, and it’s hard to admit this whenever we go astray of honesty, especially in politics. Whether the nation will be for us all, or just for the chosen few will turn out to be either a shared triumph or our undoing. It’s not too late to come together again under whatever president is chosen by the nation, but first we have to recall what our values truly are, if we can even remember them. JB