Wednesday, April 24, 2019

One nation, under God, indivisible: what once was is no more

All sorts of divisions exist in this country; let’s begin with the fact that prejudice and hatred are still very much alive in our society.

Indivisible, the key word in America’s Pledge of Allegiance is defined as, “consisting of one whole, not separable into parts; incapable of being divided”. The word indivisible may have described the America of the past but it most certainly doesn’t describe the America of today, its government and society. 

All sorts of divisions exist in this country; let’s begin with the fact that prejudice and hatred are still very much alive in our society. African Americans and people of the Jewish faith have long been targets of those who are incapable of interacting with and being respectful of others whose skin is of a different color or who may possess different religious beliefs. 

More recently undocumented Hispanic immigrants and Muslim Americans have become the targets of this gross intolerance.  Many of them now live in fear of being deported, separated from their children, or having to live under the cloud of constant surveillance.

Among these many divisions, one of the deepest involves government and politics. Liberal/progressives and right-wing conservatives have little respect and, very often, a profound dislike for each other. They have almost totally opposite, irreconcilable views on critically important national issues. The great divide in Congress and also in this society over these issues has grown to such an extent that it seems like we are living in two separate Americas.

One would think that a country that boasts about its freedoms and justice for all would have, over a period of time, evolved away from this prejudice and intolerance but, unfortunately, it remains embedded in the minds of far too many Americans.

Without question Americans see the U.S. Congress as being almost useless, extremely confrontational, and more than dysfunctional, filled with individuals who simply cannot and will not work together; there is no room for compromise and gridlock is the order of every day. 

That’s largely true and it’s very easy to find great fault with and heap large amounts of scorn on these political hacks. But when we look further into all the reasons for these great divisions it may be that we the people could be the “the pot calling the kettle black” and should accept a large portion of the guilt for this unsettling national condition.

A portrait of the America in which we live would show that, in communications and interactions between people, there is black and there is white but there is little to no room for any gray.   

Some years ago Rodney King, an African-American taxi driver, was featured in news reports across America after he was brutally beaten by Los Angeles police, following a high-speed car chase. He became the central figure of a huge debate about police brutality against blacks. When stories about him were ebbing, he posed this very pertinent question to Americans in general. He asked: “Can we all just get along?” Well, quite apparently, we can’t and we’re doing a terrible job of trying.

 In 2016 we have seen a significant increase in the tension between various groups of people in our society who don’t look alike, have totally different political beliefs, or are of different races and religions. As bad as it has been it has grown even worse in recent times. It’s not just a coincidence that this increased tension and discord escalated when Donald Trump and his cadre of nationalists and supremacists arrived on the political scene. 

At a time when so many the members of Congress and people in this society have such great differences what we need is a president who will work tirelessly to bring politicians and citizens together; a president who can inspire all Americans and convince them that we are all in this together, that we need to respect each other and work together for the common good of all the people. 

Has anyone seen or heard any evidence of any kind, any verbal messages or, perhaps, tweets from this president, that he has made one of his greatest priorities the need to bring all Americans to join together to end the great internal strife that is plaguing nation? Any evidence at all?

 We need a president who will reach out to the members of both political parties and work closely with their leaders to put a stop to the infighting and to combine their thinking and efforts in developing plans to attack key problems that have been unaddressed for many years; a president who wouldn’t waste time making plans to build walls but, rather, to find the ways to tear down the walls of this spreading acrimony.

Unfortunately, we don’t have this kind of president; the one we have has neither the inclination nor the capability to conduct his presidency in such a manner. He is, in fact, doing the opposite, fanning the flames of divisiveness.

He could have chosen from the best minds in this country in selecting the most important members of his administration such as his chief strategist and senior counselor. But he went in a totally different, downward direction. He chose Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News; that’s a far right wing conservative website that is known for its sleazy, low-level form of news reporting that incites hatred and embraces the far right’s ultra-conservative ideology.

Here’s an article that clearly shows how Breitbart News operates at these low levels that have nothing to do with the profession of journalism. If there ever was an organization intent on increasing tensions and animosity between various elements of this society it is Breitbart. What does that say about Mr. Trump’s judgement?

Here’s another good example of tactics to divide people in this country. Republican politicians are using unethical, undemocratic methods to prevent certain of their fellow Americans, mainly African Americans and Hispanics, from casting their votes in our elections. You would think that, in what we call a democracy, they would be urging more Americans to vote. That objective never enters their minds as they have this major goal; to win elections no matter what is takes.

We might have to consider changing the name of this country to the Divided States of America. The last time Americans were truly united, joined together in a common cause, was during World War II.

In the several decades following that war we had a Congress that developed the current Medicare healthcare system and made other important advancements to make this country stronger. Not anymore.

The America of today is a shadow of its former self. It’s once world class manufacturing sector and workforce are long gone, the once strong growing economy largely fueled by the manufacturer of products continues to be stuck in neutral unable to shift back into high gear. The days of creation and innovation such as the development of computers, the Space Program and sending a man to the moon, and the creation of the internet are gone.

Many years ago President Lincoln made this eloquent, meaningful statement: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Unfortunately for this country we the people have failed to heed that dire warning and Lincoln’s words have become reality. 

So there is black and there is white and there is little to no gray. And whenever we are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, when we say the word “indivisible”, we need to realize that we are describing an America that once was but is no more.

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