Saturday, January 14, 2012

THE AMERICAN UN-CIVIL WAR: 2012 - 20??

I've stopped laughing at the Republican presidential candidates comedy show; it's not funny anymore. I now realize that this bizarre episode in U.S. history is only one of many indicators of a war brewing within our country, the Un-civil War.

The signs have been right in front of us for a few years, most evident since the election of President Barack Obama. Our Congress has devolved into a snake pit of partisanship, with the minority leadership pledging to uphold only one goal - to beat Barack Obama in 2012. Both sides of the aisle play the game; the losers are the American people.

There is a large and widening chasm running down the middle of the American people, dividing us into mostly two camps - the left and the right. But "left" and "right" are terms that are too simplistic, and not really correct. The divide runs along a seam of what Americans think about who we are or should be. The geographic features on either side of this chasm have labels like religion/secularism, capitalism/socialism, gay/straight, 1%/99%, big government/small government, private/public, basic rights/survival of the fittest, union/non-union and others.

When G. W. Bush was President, I often talked about taking back our country from what I considered to be dangerous men in control of our government. Now I hear people interviewed on the radio saying that we have to take back our country, except they mean from Obama and his supporters. Obama is characterized as a European-style socialist who, according to Mitt Romney, is using the "politics of envy" as part of his attack on and deconstruction of free enterprise.

What I initially considered to be loony tunes statements and ideas expressed by candidates for the Republican presidential nomination are actually serious, and supported by many voters. Some examples (and these are actually mild compared to others):
  - Ron Paul was endorsed by a pastor who once spoke about executing homosexuals,
  - Rick Perry pledged to devote predator drones and thousands of troops to protect the U.S. - Mexico border
  - Governor Perry also said that voters should serve god by voting for him,
  - Rick Santorum promised not to be cowed by "the craven secularists who believe that a stable, healthy household need not be headed by god-fearing moms and dads,"
  - and Newt Gingrich stated that only people of faith should have the right to be citizens of this country.

The lack of civility in the national discourse has reached great heights. The Congress is a prime example, and a number of congressional old-timers have talked about this sea change in how members of Congress relate to one another. Some have announced their retirement, citing this new lack of civility and collaboration as a primary reason.

I think this is serious. I think this is more than election year rhetoric. I think the United States of America is headed for an Un-civil War within, the result of which will be a great tear in the fabric of our society. We are slipping from greatness. We are devolving into a country of meanness in which many good people will be hurt economically, socially, politically and, yes, even physically. I fear for our future.

Does this sound dire? I think it is, and the lack of leadership in this country at this critical time does not bode well for the American future.

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