Those commenting on national affairs keep saying that our political processes are too polarized to get anything done; but political parties were every bit as divided in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries as they are today, and public debate was even more strident than the lack of civility we see today.
The grilling of Supreme Court nominees, Wall Street bankers and British Petroleum executives can seem sensational, but this has been nothing like the early 1950s when Senator McCarthy of Wisconsin conducted hearings into Communist sympathies of employees in government and Hollywood.
It is almost laughable to assert that modern political debate is disintegrating. Heck, in 1804 our nation’s vice president, while in office, challenged a critic to a duel. And shot him dead! Now that’s discord!
My point is that the political process didn’t break recently. If it’s broken, it’s always been broken, always contentious and acrimonious – from the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, to the War Between the States, until today: corrupt politicians, polarized political parties, bitter debates, contentious elections.
None of this is new, except for the increased media coverage. None of this alone is to blame for today’s inability to solve problems. And all of this together is not to blame for today’s problems.
Perhaps closer to the heart of the problems today in Michigan and our nation is a lack of heart in “we the people.” A lack of passion, principle and – most of all – common vision and purpose.
Maybe we’ve just had it so good for so long that we’ve forgotten to dream for better days and fight for a better future.
Maybe these tough times will refresh our dreams and reignite the fight.