“Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for 'tis a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion admit Reason to Govern.” — George Washington’s 58th rule of civility.
At the founding of our Republic debate was crucial and civil. Our Founders were not in total agreement on the formation of the Constitution, but through thoughtful and respective debate, both in words and print, they were able to come to an agreement on how this Republic should be governed. They did not rely on TV and 10 second sound bites as we do today. They did not use talking points or agents for political gain. They were serious men working to create a lasting Republic based on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness of each individual citizen.
We no longer solve problems in America — how can you solve a problem you are not even willing to discuss? Indeed, we no longer solve problems because we have abandoned open and honest debate.
Chronic unemployment, soaring levels of public debt, an education system in serious decline, an antiquated immigration structure, and a burdensome tax code and regulatory climate are but a few of the dilemmas we find ourselves confronted with. Our nation's list of contemporary hurdles goes on and on.
But rather than squarely dealing with these and a host of other issues confronting us, at best, we nibble around the edges. Now, America finds itself awash in a laundry list of protracted crises which seem unsolvable.
Events of the last week provide a glaring example of why we are in so much trouble. Rather than any number of very serious problems dominating our discourse, the nation has been fixated with an absurd episode revolving around a radio entertainer's overzealous reaction to congressional testimony by a law student who thinks the rest of us bear responsibility for her birth control.
This is self-strangulation. Perhaps we should have seen it coming. For in part, it is the inevitable result of a path our predecessors chose long ago. In the simplest of terms, our nation and her people are the victims of a gradual abandonment of truth.
When there is no hard and fast truth, when society can no longer reach consensus on what "is," a void is created, one infinite in scope. In this environment, anything goes. The only thing that we can count on is that the void will be filled.
Like so many nations before her, America has at long last fallen victim to the grand illusions of man. Substantial portions of America have come to view natural law as something entirely negotiable, and the consequences of actions as something wholly arbitrary. "Political correctness" has seized the day, and now the vacuum is so crammed full of junk that there is little room left for honest discussion, much less the commonsense approaches that are required to garner solutions.
Truth has been sacrificed for self-interest, sound bites substituted for careful study, and reasoned debate replaced with emotionalism and political squabbling. Our dialog has become so skewed and toxic that Godless hucksters spewing venom wrapped in the guise of entertainment are now regarded as objective and authoritative figures.
Perhaps the perfect storm has gathered. After decades of honing their craft, today, talking heads and slick marketing consultants find themselves with the ideal environment in which to operate.
The demise of America's education system, wanton materialism, and pop culture obsessions have converged with dramatic advances in communications technologies, delivering us to a place and time where our national conversation is at the mercy of practitioners of fantasy.
With the advent of news sources blasting away 24/7 and the sheer volume of information flying through our modern gadgets, important issues are reduced to tweets, and one "breaking story" is quickly discarded for the next.
On this day alone, millions of words will be written, polished for consumption, and presented to the world. Beautiful people with perfect coifs will parrot the official proclamations of the day, and an army of "experts" will be offered up, creating the illusion of legitimacy and authority. Subsequently, a wall of incessant chatter will sweep across the land.
Many, if not most, of these words; the untold man-hours to produce them; and the accumulative reactions which are sure to follow will prove utterly worthless. (That is, unless misleading and distracting an unsuspecting populace is the point of the entire exercise.) Then, tomorrow, we'll get up and do it all over again.
At the core of our dilemma is that pesky abandonment of truth thing. Modern liberals have ceded all intellectual ground and are no longer grounded by anything as troublesome as absolutes. They have wittingly reduced themselves to purveyors of over-emotional theatrics designed to obscure the failed theories they hold to.
Here, we have finally stumbled upon the curse of a system of governance built upon compromise. When the starting point of one of the two opposing sides in a debate is farcical, such as "Unemployment payments are good for the economy," any and all points of the ground in between are as well. We are simply dealing with a matter of degrees.
The nation is broke. Actually, it is beyond broke and flirting with insanity. As the national debt is pushing $16 trillion, the federal government is borrowing forty cents of every dollar it spends, and we can see an insurmountable stack of bills coming due on the horizon.
Rather than honest discussion, the best the ruling masterminds and their media lapdogs can muster is to terrorize the nation with the specter of a "government shutdown" while haggling over reducing next year's additional borrowing by a paltry 3-4 percent.
Our tax code has grown to an 80,000-page monstrosity. It is antiquated, much too progressive, and counterproductive to the nation, and everyone knows it. It has become a tool by which the federal government picks winners and losers and entices not only groups of voters, but lobbyists of every imaginable stripe. It is a central reason why our government no longer works properly. We have become a nation dominated by what James Madison called “Factions.”
Yet, let a Reformer like Herman Cain come along with his 9-9-9 plan and he is sure to be ridiculed, accused of heartlessness, and shunned to the hinterlands of our national dialog.
After the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords, in Tucson, President Obama was invited to speak at the memorial service at the University of Arizona. Obama urged civility in our dialog and debate and within 24 hours the liberal media, his minions, and the local sheriff were blaming Sarah Palin and the Tea Party the shooting even though the assassin was proven to be a person bordering on insanity with no political convictions. Where was the civility and honesty Obama had preached?
It appears that America has been overrun by immigrants, both the legal and illegal sort. Illegal migrants are straining the budgets of some states to the breaking point. Government budgets, at all levels, indicate that we can no longer afford to take care of our own. Our real unemployment rate has stagnated in the 15%-16% range (but we still legally import one million a people into the United States every year). Islamic terrorists simply amble across our southern border mixed in with the drug mules. Tens of thousands of violent MS-13 gang members routinely terrorize major American cities.
The matter has digressed to the point that our border with Mexico is virtually a war zone in some areas. Were the same scenario taking place anywhere else in the world, the United Nations would be issuing official edicts and the U.S. called upon to step in and quell the violence.
Yet our political class offers nothing more than reminders that "America is a nation of immigrants" while touting a vague concept called "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" which addresses none of our immigration-related problems and plays on getting the votes from certain groups.
Pick a topic, any topic, and you will find the same conclusion. Save America? Without honestly discussing it, good luck with that.