The Crisis of Inaction


America got its start in 1776 when a group of 56 men signed a declaration of independence from Great Britain, knowing full well that they were likely signing their own death warrants.  They risked their livelihoods, their reputations, and the lives of their families for a chance at freedom.

Many of them and their fellow countrymen went to the grave during the resulting war, believing that liberty was more important than life itself.

Our country faces a great many problems today, and we are in no shape to solve them.  The national debt is over $21 trillion.  The debates over guns and immigration have reached fever pitch, and the recent retirement of Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court has people on both sides of the political spectrum gnashing teeth.  Americans are so divided, solutions are hard to fathom.

The polarization of Congress; the decline of civility; and the rise of attack politics in the 1980s, the 1990s, and the early years of the new century are a blot on our political system and a disservice to the American people.

Senator Edward Brooke

 

Just as the late Senator Brooke points out, the political ideological gap is widening and has done so extensively over the last fifteen years.  This extends beyond elected officials.  Republican and Democrat voters are, by increasing numbers, viewing each other “unfavorably” as noted in the linked article. Anyone with a social media account can agree that “unfavorably” is putting the situation mildly.  Americans hurl insults at each other at breakneck speed.

Libtard, Nazi, snowflake, fascist, bigot…the list goes on.

The question everyone wants to ask is who is responsible?  The answer is that you are.  I am.  We all are.  It is easy to blame the media, professional politicians, and lobbyists for what ails us.  The reality however, is that we put these individuals in power and we bear the responsibility for doing so.

Republicans seethed when Barack Obama, with his pen and phone, expanded the power of the executive.  Now they cheer when Donald Trump uses his power in a similar fashion.  Congressional Republicans voted to abolish or alter the Affordable Care Act more than 50 times while Obama was still president, but they couldn’t muster a serious repeal effort when President Trump took office.  Democrats likewise, clamor for increased restrictions on firearms, but have failed to address gun violence when they had power.

With immigration in the news, Democrats are rightly furious at the inhumane treatment of immigrant families at the border, but are unwilling to accept their role in the crisis, and when Republicans discussed a solution recently, they balked.

There are so many obstacles to legislation and when the president can do it with his own pen, it makes no sense,” Schumer told reporters. “Legislation is not the way to go here when it’s so easy for the president to sign it.

 

Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader

 

The passage of the 16th and 17th amendments, the New Deal, the Department of Education, the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 all reflect the willingness of elected officials and the voters who choose them to hand over power to federal bureaucracy.

None of this should be surprising to a citizenry that has increasingly exchanged civic engagement and responsibility for the ability to complain without consequences.

Who among us is willing to sacrifice the way our founding fathers did?  The answer is embarrassingly few.  Only 60% of eligible Americans voted in 2016Only 2% of eligible citizens run for office in their lifetime.  Approximately 7% ever put on the uniform of our military forces.  Worst of all, we continue to reelect those very same leaders that we chastise at an alarmingly high rate of 96%!

To put it plainly, we shout and scream, but when push comes to shove, we look the other way and gladly accept the yoke of serfdom.

If you consider yourself a Democrat or a Liberal, and you’re mad at the way Donald Trump has governed, you own some of the responsibility.  Barak Obama drastically expanded the role of the presidency.  You can’t cheer when one president acts like a king, and then claim outrage when the next one does things you don’t like.

If you consider yourself a conservative or a Republican and you were angry at the way Obama governed but are now “drinking the liberal tears” under the Trump administration, your time is coming and you too will be responsible.

If you are a libertarian, and you laughed carelessly as a man stripped naked at your national convention, yes, even you bear responsibility for the current crisis.

If this seems overly harsh, it’s meant to be.  America is not headed for a revolution.  There will be no civil war.  That would be far too difficult for a vapid, lazy, uninformed population like ours. If our trajectory isn’t altered significantly, what we are headed for is tyranny, and it will be the just rewards of our inaction.

One Response so far.

  1. Gwen McNatt says:

    Thanks for posting this, Taylor. Although I believe that you have some details wrong here such as Trump is not using executive action in the same way that Obama did and that the Democrats (and Republicans) looked the other way at similar conditions and policies regarding detention of families who illegally enter our country, I agree with your basic premise that people are not taking the time to consider each policy or issue or legislation on its own merits or its Constitutionality but rather simply using which side is proposing the policy or undertaking the action as the only measuring criteria. It is intellectually lazy and motivated by easy hatred as opposed to thoughtful evaluation and dialogue.
    Identity politics has balkanized our country.
    I have been doing some research lately on the balkanization of what is now primarily the Czech Republic after WWI. Ethnic Germans and Czechs had co-existed fairly peaceably for centuries under the Habsburgs. After WWI and the collapse of the Austria Hungary Empire, the Great Powers (lead by Woodrow Wilson) decided to make an ethnic democracy for the Czech/Slav majority and just ignored the consequences for the over 3 million German-speaking people living in its new borders. Without going into a lot of detail, this nation building led to ethnic strife and the German speakers colluding with Hitler. Their actions (and Britain and France’s refusal to protect the Czechs) ended with Czechoslovakia being overtaken by the Third Reich without a shot fired, emboldening Hitler to invade Poland and ignited into WWII.
    After the war, ethnic hatred became Allied endorsed expulsion of nearly 3 million Germans from the Sudeten area of Czechoslovakia and in the process some historians say 800K died by execution, torture, starvation and exposure, many in the same concentration camps that Nazis had built.
    My point here is that when these people, who were divided by language and culture, still saw themselves as citizens of the same country (in this case the Austria-Hungary empire) they were able to co-exist peaceably. Once they lost that unifying identity, they turned on each other with horrifying consequences. We allow ourselves to live in echo chambers of incivility, we will cease to exist as a nation.
    Now don’t get me wrong, I am decidedly on the Right side of the political spectrum and I don’t much care for the politics and culture of the Left. But I do try to judge each issue/policy/action by its own merit. I don’t block those with whom I don’t agree (unless they are totally obscene, profane or scary) and I look for common ground with which start a dialogue. We have to start having a national dialogue and stop just throwing rocks at each other or we will end up like Czechoslovakia.