We Americans once prided ourselves on being a practical people. We took ideas from whatever source as long as we thought them useful. We understood that individuals can make a difference, but only if we all worked together to create an environment where individual initiative paid off.
We disagreed on many things, but managed to work together well enough to tend to important practical matters. We thought of the government as “our” government, and we stood together when times were tough.
All this has changed in our lifetimes. Practicality has been abandoned for ideology. Ideas tend to be judged by their source rather than their usefulness for practical goals. Some individuals are deemed more important than others, and the need to work together no longer guides our deliberations. As a result, some believe that individuals deserve whatever fate befalls them. Our disagreements today are centered around “us” versus “them.” And the government is viewed by many as some faceless, uncaring, and even evil entity which needs to be starved to death.
Democrats and Republicans are both guilty of the current impasse, but as a Democrat, I naturally think that my side is in the right, just as Republicans think their side is. Democrat is not a dirty word. Neither is Republican. Neither is “liberal” or “conservative.” The fact that some people think so is a reflection of the media as much as anything.
Isn’t it time to forgo the negative epithets and deal with the pressing issues that face the country which we all love? After all, politics is the art of compromise, of possibilities, and even, sometimes, of making concessions to achieve common goals.