The nation is currently in the midst of a new election cycle. The politics are fierce and the attacks on the candidates through the media of print, television and the Internet are unrelenting. The amount of monetary resources being used to convince the voting members of the population how to cast their ballots is obscene and is a vivid indication of exactly how out of balance the nation has become.
The views of the electorate have become deeply polarized. Underlying this political landscape there exists a deep and abiding cynicism within the minds of the general population regarding the efficacy of government. This is not an unfounded sentiment given the seeming inability of those in the roles of leadership to work harmoniously to resolve the deep and critical problems that face the nation. The simmering tragedy of this reality is that the longer such issues as health care, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, the state of the national infrastructure and climate change go unattended the less likely it becomes that they can be successfully addressed in the future.
It is quite possible that this deep rift in the nation may never be bridged through the ordinary political process that has been successfully hijacked by the affluent and corporate classes. After all, it has become quite clear that any attempt to address serious issues through intelligent and effective legislation is quickly stymied through the corrupt relationship between moneyed interests and the national political leadership.
The route to national renewal will, in my estimation, not ultimately come from the national government. Realistically that has become hopelessly corrupted by wealth and power. It will come, instead, from sound and reasoned decisions made at the local and regional levels. Some states such as Arizona and Florida, for example, have made decisions regarding issues such as immigration and gun control that exploit deep and abiding sentiments of xenophobia, racism and a profound anti-intellectual worldview. Such decisions are essentially irrational and will ultimately prove disastrous for the future well-being of these regions; real issues can only be successfully addressed through a process reflecting reasoned judgment and deliberation. In contrast, other areas of the country have rejected problem-solving approaches that rely upon rash and ill-conceived judgments and prejudice and have chosen, instead, to find a more harmonious and balanced route to the resolution of gnawing issues – Oregon, Vermont and Maine representing important examples. In the long run, successful policies will have an enduring influence upon those areas of the country that have fared badly as a result of ill-advised decisions.
The longevity of a civilization is more a reflection of its cultural attributes than any particular government, for national leaders come and go and are not a hallmark of permanence. The longevity of the United States as an enduring civilization will depend upon its ability to harness the collective energy, democratic sensibilities and intellect of its people.