As the 2016 Presidential election approaches, the American public is being inundated by a plethora of candidates coming from both major political parties. When I pay close attention to the rhetoric coming from a majority of these candidates (especially from the Republican Party), I am impressed by the essential lack of reasoned judgment and thoughtful analysis coming from their statements, and commentaries and their summary judgments regarding a wide variety of issues in areas in which they lack any meaningful knowledge or expertise. In many instances, many of these aspirants to the presidency seem to be playing to an audience that responds favorably to so-called, “hot button issues” with intense emotional appeal – issues such as immigration and abortion. With the national attention diverted to these areas, many of the problems that plague the general culture and population are conveniently sidestepped including: climate change, the inequitable distribution of wealth, the crumbling national infrastructure, access to quality housing, education and healthcare, hunger and childhood poverty.
This country has become so acutely polarized along cultural, economic and political lines that honest and reasoned dialog between individuals with conflicting viewpoints within the public forum has become supplanted by an often savage confrontational and adversarial approach – the kind of behavior that makes it impossible to actually reach the kind of reasoned compromises that are the central ingredients to creating real and effective public policy – it is compromise that lies at the heart of any sustainable political process.
I would propose that the underlying reality that helps to explain the extent of this polarization and the irrational aspect of the political process is that the country is, in fact, in serious decline. It is the denial of this real decline – perpetuated by the media – that makes the circus-like atmosphere of the current political landscape so acceptable and palatable by the general public. Furthermore, it is the passive acceptance of the nonsense that is presented as serious communication that exacerbates the polarized atmosphere and makes it less likely that real solutions will be found for the festering problems that contribute mightily to this national decline.