Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A House Divided

This morning I heard a report on NPR concerning the constitutional crisis beginning to arise in France. Apparently, the French government has begun using a variety of quasi-legal tactics against the immigrant community aimed at deterring terrorist attacks.  One approach now being considered is to amend the constitution to allow the government to strip citizenship from dual-nationals if they are convicted of some terrorist activities.  It is being pointed out vigorously that the last time the French considered enacting such a provision was when the Vichy government stripped French citizenship from Jews, as they actively collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.  Any comparison between a current French government and Vichy assumes major proportions. 

And then I read of government actions in Britain aimed at “clarifying” the British role in the EU, which range from what is being called the BREXIT, a complete exit, to various changes of a minor character, and I observe the rise of leftist politicians (see Jeremy Corbyn) beginning to challenge the Tories. In a recent story, about British government cuts to local councils, which are resulting in closing children’s centers, there is a rising discontent, partly because some proposed restoration appears to benefit Tory councils more than Labor Councils.  One commenter notes, The stupidity continues! Being Canadian I wonder when the British people are going to rebel, much like the Scots have done. Armed rebellion is not on the table, but major marches should be. If you take a look at what is happening around the world you will see that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the right wing governments such as Cameron leads, which are for the benefit of the upper 10%.

And then we arrive at the US election season.  I have characterized the GOP primary race as a virtual clown car, except that the clowns seem unfunny, more tragic, some pathetic, and a few potentially dangerous.  Amplifying the message coming from the clowns is the Fox News –the so-called Faux News network that specializes in mockumentary news shows.  One result of this particular “silly season” seems to me the fracturing of the American public, perhaps not seen since the pre-Civil War era. The commentary coming from the left and the right, but mainly from the right, seems aimed at creating hate for “the other”. In this case, though, “the other” is not foreigners, but Americans who are not of the same ideological persuasion.  Our nation now seems composed not of Americans who may hold different political, or economic, or social viewpoints, but of potentially warring tribes—see The Middle East.

We have The Tea Party, the Evangelical Party, the KKK Party (really just a subgroup of the Tea Party), the NRA party, and then finally, I will call them, The Owners Party—the Kochs and others of their ilk who basically have purchased the GOP and now wish to purchase the entire US government.  On the left, there are disparate groups that protest specific issues—Black Lives Matter, for example, but the left is neither as well organized, nor as well amplified as the right.

But it is not really the relative organization but the content of the messages being cast out among the faithful. The various messages seem intent on spurring on the body faithful by creating actual hate of “the other”—anyone not them.  Thus, the gunners of the land are being told that the government is after their guns, as well as their money, their land, etc.  So, the gunners should fear the government, and fear eventually creates hate.  Evangelicals are being told that the Godless are seeking to destroy the body faithful, turning everyone into godless heathens. Planned Parenthood is perhaps the prime example here, wherein the body faithful has been willing to create an entirely false narrative about Planned Parenthood  (see Carly Fiorina and Mike Dingleberry, aka Huckabee). And folks on the right are willing to shoot up clinics in order to get their message across that Planned Parenthood and those who support them are essentially evil people who perhaps do not deserve to live.

And so, the political Silly Season has been corrupted into a Season of Hate. I have begun to doubt whether the aftermath, i.e., the vote and any resulting new government, can survive this hateful preliminary period.  Are we in fact rushing toward a completely and permanently fractured nation, in which politics and their media partners have destroyed the essential comity that characterized our nation? I have begun to wonder whether we are any longer capable of deterring any new existential threats, in view of our internal hatreds.  Climate change seems a perfect example, wherein we are no longer capable of acting rationally to deter the worst effects that climate change will create eventually.  Are we so torn apart that we are now also incapable of deterring threats from emerging military foes?  Could we ever again act in unity as we saw during WW II?

I wish I could see some potential solution here, but I cannot find any bright spots. Perhaps my age has now petrified my mind into a new and final mindset that itself deflects brightness from entering. Would that it were true, for I really do fear for my grandchildren’s future.  Are we heading into a new dark age, similar to that world of 1000 years ago, when we had the very (few) rich and mighty controlling the serfs? That is surely the world sought by the Koch’s and Murdoch’s of the world.  I fear too that even a victory for rational forces might still not produce the result we need, because Fox would continue to create and stir its corrupt waters around us, the Evangelicals will become even more fearful, angrier, and more hate-filled, the gunners will continue to shoot first and ask questions later, and the very rich will continue to spread their message of hate.

It is not even as simple as that which presented itself to President Lincoln when he said:
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

Who or what will push us as a nation to revisit those thoughts?

But in some respects, our condition is more complex. We have become a nation of tribes, as distinct from two warring sides. We now have a dozen warring sides. Can anyone bring us back together as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all? 

One can only hope.

Fond hope perhaps springs eternal.