Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

I fear for the future of our country.

There. I said it. Those eight words have been in my consciousness for several weeks but seemed too, well, dramatic to say – possibly overstatement or too fatalistic. But, as the battles in Washington D.C. swing from absurd to savage, such fears may not be ungrounded.

My deepest concerns are two. First, what lasting damage will the structure of our government incur before this political internecine warfare ends? And, two, what will our future form of government be – or look like – from that time?

Our constitutional political framework has been under attack for about 240 years. From just about everywhere. And everything. It has withstood wars – internal and external – depressions, recessions, assassinations and upheavals of all sorts. Its been challenged by forces of greed and destruction – man-made and acts of God. It has withstood them all.

But the warfare is from within now. American versus American. Or more accurately put, our political system versus the citizen. The battle isn’t over an issue like slavery or one’s beliefs. There aren’t two clear sides trying to gain the support of the rest of the country. Much of the fight – at its most basic level – is future elected job security on the part of some people – a very few people – many of whom know they’re wrong but will pursue the fight anyway. They’re in positions of authority. They have the power to compromise. They have the power to end it. Immediately. But they won’t.

The argument is not really about the direction of policy despite all the threats and overblown rhetoric. It’s not about fiscal issues or reducing national spending. There is no ideology at the bottom of this. This is simply extreme self-interest facing ignorant anger out to destroy.

That’s not hard to prove. Just listen to some of the combatants – members of Congress – listen to them when they say they don’t support a government shutdown – they don’t support hundreds of thousands of people being thrown out of work through no fault of their own – they don’t want people going hungry – whatever political “victory” was to be won has been lost. “It’s over.” Listen to them. Then watch how they vote. When their names – their offices – their personal futures are on the line – compare their words to their vote. Time after time after time after time.

This isn’t a battle of political parties. It’s not even about some 360 million citizens of this country. The threat to our system of governance – the war of words and wills – the strident defense of this-or-that – all this continues as a very personal cowardice of self-interest.

Yes, there are a few hellbent on gutting the government. And, yes, they and those who crazily support them with their dollars or any other way are to be feared. They offer nothing. No alternative. No plan for the future. No solution to national problems. Not one positive point. They’re out to destroy in the name of some farcical “patriotism” and in the guise of being “good Americans.”

But they offer no patriotism. They offer no acceptable alternatives. They have no plan. They’re ignorant about governance and history. They’re absolutists with no sense of compromise. And, what makes this loud, ignorant few most dangerous, is others who do offer those things – those who do have alternatives and do know how to govern – are being cowed. They’re afraid to stand for what they know is right – afraid to offer legitimate resistance – afraid to tell the know-nothings to “Sit down and shut the Hell up!”

Self-interest on a massive and nationally dangerous scale.

There’s more – much more – at stake at this moment in history than budgets or parties or political choices. Leaders of our economy – heads of international corporations – leaders of other world nations – academicians and still others with unquestioned wisdom and experience – all these and more are warning this internal battle of self-survival at any cost poses dangers even to other nations. Much less the calamity of our own markets – our economy – every person in this country.

Ask yourself this. If this increasingly hostile situation were to magically end today – just quit – how would those 535 in Washington deal with each other tomorrow? Would trust suddenly be restored? Would comity? Would the extreme self-interest just disappear? Would compromise break out to solve what today is “unsolvable?” Would healing begin? What would be the condition of our government to function going forward?

There are no innocents in this challenge to our democracy. No heroes. No leadership. No honest brokering of solutions – whatever solutions there may be. There is simply the cancer of self-interest creeping through the body politic. And, each day that goes by – every phony vote disguised to show “unity” to the folks at home – every lie – every character assassination leveled against anyone of any party – each threat – each intransigent act of personal ass-covering – all lead nowhere. Except to waste another day.

We’ve long been proud of the strength of our chosen governance. We’ve dared hold it up to the world as enlightened and free. We’ve carried torches of freedom and liberty to light dark corners of other nations. We’ve called ourselves “proud citizens.” If you look to the rest of the world in recent days – as I do daily reviewing media from many countries – you’ll find no mention of these. No willingness to follow our lead. No admiration of our successes of democracy going back nearly 300 years.

We are increasingly being looked at with astonishment – as confused – as rudderless – a victim of our own making – being imperiled by the very freedoms that used to make us strong – a nation in decline. Those aren’t the views of our enemies but the astonishment and disappointment of our friends.

Until those who know better stand up to those who know little – the ones out to ravage and destroy what they can’t understand and control – we’ll be a very changed nation when this current madness ends. And it will end.

The question is: if allowed to go longer – if paralysis continues to defy our progress – if the unenlightened madness and destructive dedication of a few are not contained now and ended – what will a new and drastically altered American system of governance look like then?

Again – if it ended today, what would our elected national government be? What would be the relationship of each person there? And their relationship with each of us – the constituents? Would it truly “be over?”

This standoff – this political chaos that’s sapping our economic stability – hurting millions of fellow citizens- this madness of watching cowardly self-interest being whipped by maniacs out to destroy without a plan to rebuild – is more than two political parties that can’t get along. So much more. This has become a nation-changing duel that can eat us from within. It has become a matter of our constitutional survival.

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Rainey