The overwhelming impression I got from last night’s State of the Union address is that our nation is perilously dis-united, so much so that it’s verging on dysfunctional.
I’m not going to go into the tasteless, classless, infantile and rude behavior of certain politicians. Enough has been said about that elsewhere. It certainly portrayed them, and the offices they hold, in a very negative light – one that in the old days would have been met by calls from their own political party to resign, rather than tolerate such antics, because they demean the offices in question. Not today, unfortunately.
The main concern for me is the attitude that “If we can’t get what we want through the ballot box, we’re going to do anything and everything possible to get it in any other way possible – and damn the cost!” It’s a ruthlessness, a lack of respect for the will of the people, that bodes very ill for our future as a nation. When such attitudes and behavior are on blatant public display, as they were last night, one can only ask how long before they override normal political discourse, and lead to a complete breakdown of our system of government. When function is disrupted, we’re left only with dysfunction – and that should scare all of us. That leads to 1861, all over again.
Is it possible to turn back from that brink? Is it in any way feasible to restore civilized discourse and behavior? I don’t know . . . but I’m left in serious doubt about it. I see too many parallels to the October Revolution, or the Reichstag Fire, or any other similar historical event that allowed radicals to impose their will on all others. I think we’re at a point in our political discourse where there are all too many firebrands in our midst, who would seize upon any opportunity that arose to do the same thing here.
That would, of course, destroy our constitutional republic . . . but how many would stand against it? I fear many Americans have become supine, resigned to their voice and their vote not making a difference in the ongoing partisan imbroglio in Washington. Many who would take a stand are far away from the center of power, and might not be able (or might feel they are unable) to do enough from where they are to affect matters there.
Those are my thoughts following the State of the Union speech. I wish they were more cheerful . . . but after so many classless, tasteless, vituperative and vindictive displays last night (and we all know who made them), I’m afraid such thoughts are inevitable. I hope and pray that I’m wrong.