OPINION: Red, White . . . and so Blue

OPINION: Red, White . . . and so Blue

By Lyn May

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

H.L. Menchken

I know. Too much has already been said about this dismal election.

But, for those of us who were raised to be polite, not bully or make fun of people, and not to tell lies, these are hard times.

But beyond a stunning display of perpetual bad behavior is something more frightening: The possibility of a changed America and a changed world order.

Those of us old enough to know about or remember Franco, Mussolini, internment camps, concentration camps, Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy are smart enough to be worried.

To think that America would sacrifice it’s already challenged world leadership on the false promise of bringing back an America that never was is sad, and it shows a breathtaking ignorance of our history.

The story of us is told in the Constitution, a noble but flawed document from the moment the ink dried. That’s why we have 27 Amendments. Despite historic and sometimes bloody conflict, our leaders have eventually sought the greater good and done the hard work necessary to respond to a growing, changing America. That’s part of what made us nearly universally appealing for so long. We’ve always been pretty good about moving over and making room for others, even if we grumble while we’re doing it.

But who will we be if we can no longer find a way to incorporate immigrants into our lives, or accept the conclusion of the world’s scientists that climate change is a reality – now – or be willing to support our allies abroad, and do what must be done to be responsible leaders and citizens of the world?

What we will pay for the 2016 failure of is incalculable. It is the failure of media, Congress, candidates, leaders and thinkers in every field - and ordinary citizens - to think larger thoughts and to believe in a “common good.” 

It can’t be known how badly yet but, no matter who wins in November, something about us is broken forever.  I believe what we do about it will be the first serious societal challenge we will face since the Civil War.

This nation is about as badly divided now as it was then, and for some of the same reasons.

 

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