My great niece turned four about a month ago. Zooey won’t remember anything about Tuesday’s election but the result will likely have a profound effect on her life.
As America prepares to choose its 45th President, I’m concerned about what kind of world she will grow up in, and what our political system has become.Voters will be choosing between a candidate whose time in public life has been characterized by a penchant for secrecy and a heightened sense of entitlement, and one who spews divisive, hateful rhetoric and has little understanding of how our system of government is supposed to work.
This is the best we can do?
Unfortunately, we, as voters, are largely getting what we asked for. In terms of politics, our country is more polarized than it has been in decades, since the era of Vietnam and Watergate. And today’s technology and the 24-hour news cycle spawned by that technology heighten our differences.
Far too many voters aren’t as informed as they should be. They watch the news not to become informed but to have their own individual points of view reinforced. The divide between the two major parties has expanded exponentially. Congressional districts are drawn to protect incumbents who, likely as not, are more concerned about primary challenges from the more extreme elements of their own party than what will happen in the general election.
Those extreme elements scoff at the idea of working across the aisle to find solutions to problems. Compromise is seen as a weakness and the body politic is paying a tremendous price for that mindset.
Our nation is facing serious issues that need to be addressed, from what to do about the situation in Iraq and Syria, to the economy and job creation, to the issues surrounding health care. Unfortunately the two major candidates have spent precious little time offering realistic solutions to these problems but have devoted their energy to spewing accusations at their opponent.
Worse, one candidate has broadly hinted that he will not accept the result of the election should he lose, thereby encouraging his supporters to do the same and undermining the heart of our electoral system.
When Zooey reaches the age I am now I wonder if the nation she is living in will be one I would recognize.