Is an Uncivil War on the Horizon?
First, an apology: I realize it’s been while since I’ve posted. Some of you are probably disappointed with my lack of output. For that, I’m sorry.
Despite this being the earnest start of the 2012 election cycle, as a nation we’ve failed to come to grips with the most pressing issue of our lifetime. Our politics – and politicians – consume themselves with playing politics as usual. Rather than engage the electorate in an honest debate about what type of nation we are and what type of nation we want to be, the political class (and that includes the punditry and news outlets) spends our time discussing ancillary issues.
Every other issue – the economy, foreign policy, education, civil rights, immigration – is secondary to the central question of just who we are. We’re often told of how the “greatest generation” came together to answer that question in the 1940’s. The truth is that that they didn’t answer that question completely. No generation has. Each succeeding generation has answered parts of the question, building upon the work done by those preceding it. Until, that is, the two generations currently in control of public discourse: the “Baby Boomers” and “Generation X.” The Boomers can be forgiven for thinking that the protests and civil rights gains of the 1960’s and 70’s finally delivered the answer. Gen X, growing up with those examples in relative affluence, assumed the nation would never need to revisit the question.
But current circumstances have proven that the question of what constitutes the American character was never solved. As the nation devolves into chaos, political gridlock born of competing ideals is the order of the day. As a people, we seem stuck in one camp or the other. We compartmentalize ourselves into either being “conservative” or “liberal” without fully understanding what those labels construe. Worse, we build walls around our encampments, refusing to even listen to ideas that challenge our preconceived notions. Often, those viewpoints don’t come from reason – they come from an ingrained political ideology. It’s the pathology that allows political machines to flourish in all their corrupt glory. Every day on Facebook and Twitter, I see people who’ve known each other for decades “unfriend” each other over political disagreements, often with comments like “that person is an idiot.” Or worse, involving language that makes this old Marine blush.
Hopefully, the act of using social networks to be unsocial is as far as we go towards civil war. But as I gaze upon the national landscape, I wonder when and if we’re capable of answering the question of what the United States of America represents now and in the future. The answer is out there and we need to answer it. If we leave it to our children and grandchildren to answer, there may not be a nation left for them to inherit.
So, in the hope of sparking discussion I’ll be spending the free time I have over the next few weeks posting continually about who we are as a nation today – and how we get from here to there. Feel free to join in the discussion. But keep in mind that this is an open forum – you’re liable to run into ideas that challenge you.