Since coming on board here I've made a fair sampling of the content. My initial impressions are thus: there is a relatively equal sampling of loons from either end of the spectrum, as one is likely to find anywhere else, but it seems to me that this forum represents an accurate sampling of the middle. In political terms the middle is also frequently labelled as "moderate" or "undecided" or the safe bet "independent". The middle is where most of the world lives, actually, in spite of what some will try to convince us to the contrary. I tend to make a great effort to shy away from any position that is alarmist in character, though now and again I will make an exception to this, but I sense a growing concern that the numbers of the middle are beginning to contract. No cause for panic, for their numbers indeed still constitute a majority, but there are forces chipping away at the edges.
The middle (for purpose of discussion I'll stick with this description) is the political ground that is well suited to democratic republics. It is a place where many of us can find enough common ground with our neighbors that we can tolerate each other. We can still have disagreements in varying points, some of which will surely never be resolved, but there is enough common stock that we are able to coexist in a relatively peaceable fashion. I know we have an international audience so for those of you beyond these borders I beg your indulgence for these reflections. I can only speak for what I know here.
I have on some occasions encountered it here, but more often in person, that those on the extreme ends of either spectrum are determined by their speech and actions to marginalize the middle. The middle is squishy. In order to be recognized one is expected to accept all of a dogma, there can be no impurity of thought to soil their particular brand of orthodoxy. It is from this that we are presented a picture of a society that is much more polarized than it truly is. This is a purposeful portrait from both ends of the divide. It is in the interest of their respective agendas to continue to stoke turmoil.
I have heard the opinions of a number of people from outside our borders that condemn the United States. They have plenty of company from Americans as well. If I try to make my case with either of the extremes I am subjected to derision and name calling. That's fine, I have a pretty thick skin. So I offer my appeal to that vast middle, wherever they may reside. When I speak up to defend the country it is not as an apologist. The United States, in it's history, has committed ample offenses. I do not attempt to deny these. The most egregious of these was the wholesale genocide of the native american nations. There is no way to deny this. I am bothered by some of the frankly outrageous deeds that are assigned to the US. Many of these are fomented by dishonest parties with an ulterior agenda. I would ask that you use a grain of common sense and recognize these when they appear. There are enough cases that are true and verifiable to make your case, there is no need to fabricate. That only diminishes any credibility you may have.
I will be among the first to declare that we have strayed a long, long way from our founding. In terms of practice there is much that is wrong with this country. Countries are comprised of people. Just as people are imperfect so are nations. Our English cousins have been an equally ripe target for the abuses, real or perceived, of the British Empire. Here again there is no need for any embellishments, there is enough that is true. This still does not diminish the overall contribution and lasting legacy of the empire, which I would submit was on the whole generally positive. I've no doubt there are those among you who will disagree and you're certainly free to do so. I won't belabor the question.
Within these borders there is a battle between two competing parties. On some points their platforms are diametrically opposed, but in practice, in the exercise of governing, there is little if any difference between the two. This is easily judged by the results. Washington is bought and paid for. Trump says he wants to shake all of that up. Drain the swamp. This may or may not be genuine, I've no way of knowing for certain. It may very well be just another case of telling people what they want to hear. I am not one to automatically discount anything the man says because of the way he is. To me he typifies the brash New Yorker, which for my own tastes is not a flavor of my liking, but this alone hardly disqualifies him. There are points upon which I believe he is correct. After having had a man occupy the office who can say all the right things but acts foolishly I can regard the man who sometimes speaks foolishly and yet still sometimes can act wisely as a welcome lesser of two evils. My purpose is not to endorse Trump, far from it. I have enough distaste for the establishment slime that occupies Washington to understand that much of the furor surrounding this president is that he doesn't want to be a part of their club. He won't play by their rules. He is like Rodney Dangerfield's character in the film Caddyshack.
One party persists in the idea that we simply need to spend more. Keep throwing more money at it and things will eventually get better. The other party simply wants to play defense. They still want to spend the money, they just think their spending is smarter and as long as they can slow down the direction everything will work out. The fire-breathers on both sides continue to fan the flames of division. They are both wrong. We've long since sailed past that port. The federal government has grown so large, so intrusive, so unaccountable that slowing things will not solve anything. It is an out of control apparatus that needs to be deconstructed. You can't keep making promises that you know damn well will never be fulfilled. You can't just keep printing currency or adding zeros to the ledger. America as the ideal expressed and mapped out in our Constitution is still a viable form of self governance. If we were to return to the Jeffersonian principles we could make this work again. I fear, however, that enough damage has been done that this will not occur by some ordered process. The only hope that we have for that course of action to succeed is to employ it as the method for rebuilding after the roof has caved in. If you listen carefully you can hear the trusses creaking under the strain.
It was once said that the " republic is yours, if you can keep it ". The middle needs to prepare themselves to restore it. For those beyond our shores who would celebrate this country laid low I say enjoy your schadenfreude. For a great number of us we'll be only to happy to return to a time when we simply minded our own store. Understand the difference between the country and it's capitol. Washington does not represent what the American ideal is about any more than it represents Americans. Washington only represents Washington's interest.
Beneath the noble birth
Between the proudest words
Behind the beauty cracks appear
Once with heads held high
They sang out to the sky
Why do their shadows bow in fear?
From Beneath,Between, Behind