Several weeks ago I asked my several thousand Facebook followers — most of whom are on the left, some of whom are on the right — what they would not give up of their beliefs as we move forward in these politically fraught times. Things have only gotten worse since that time, with Trump raging out of control and executing a political scorched earth policy toward anyone who challenges his personal position on anything at all, having now blurred the lines between his increasingly erratic internal monologue and the national self interest.
The Republican senators, one of the most cowardly groups of politicians ever, who somehow have forgotten their morals and courage in an effort to appease the unbalanced narcissist who hijacked their party, have gone the extra step of floating out the idea that since Trump’s position equals the national interest, anything he does to achieve reelection is legal because it is in the national interest. This is the clearest path to dictatorship we will ever see, and moves us into territory that imperils the very system of government on which our nation is based. This must be stopped so that no one, from the left or the right or anywhere else, can ever hijack our government for his or her personal interest. Whether or not you think Trump is a bad person, this represents governmental suicide for a democracy such as ours.
What my facebook followers showed me in their answers is a possible way forward that can salvage our national dialogue and, hopefully, our democratic system. It involves elevating that dialogue from an argument over what is right and what is wrong to a dialogue about how to achieve what we all see as a common purpose. And the place where my followers showed me a common purpose is our common belief that the future of our children must be our paramount concern. This sounds obvious and even a bit naive, but it is not. Right now we are contending over a grab bag of specifics that can all be subsumed into the overarching argument of individual freedom versus collective responsibility. This argument is at the core of our American political and cultural identity, but it is predicated on a philosophical difference, not based in a search for a solution to a commonly shared political aspiration.
My unscientific survey through my facebook page showed me that our commonly shared political aspiration is creating a better life for our children. Now this can easily subsume differences in opinion and political positions. The right-leaning folks will say that the way they choose to do this, and their moral responsibility, is to provide the greatest opportunity and the best economic footing for their own children. The furthest left will say it is teaching our own children the need to share and sacrifice and always making decisions for the seventh generation. In between will be any number of arguments about obligation versus opportunity which can, of course, devolve into arguments about individual freedom versus collective responsibility. But if we keep the discussion focused on the common goal and always return to that commonality, we will not devolve into the kind of political fistfight we find ourselves in at the present moment.
Right now our minds are completely filled with the poisonous presence of Trump. Although we are a culture that celebrates personalities and individuals, it is unhealthy to have the focus of our national dialogue be an individual, not matter who that individual is. Individuals, both the best and the worst, die. Ideas do not die, or, at least, they do not have to. We need a common unifying idea to pull us out of this malaise. The survival of the planet is a worthy one, but it is too subject to argument. The good of the children is more immediate and ties immediately into images that touch each of us at our moral core.
I do not know how we change a national dialogue, and I am not claiming that my idea is the only one or the best. But our national dialogue must change, and I believe it must change to something that touches us all at our moral heart. As always, I go back to Chief Sitting Bull: “Come, let us put our minds together to see what kind of life we can create for our children.”
9 thoughts on “Thoughts on the responses to my facebook question about what belief you won’t give up in these politically fraught times”
While “what kind of life we can create for our children……”makes complete sense to most of us….we still…right now…have people that think separating children from parents is a good idea…just as was done to indigenous people…slaves..jews…that idea doesnt die….as you said….ideas dont have to die….there are people who will always believe…THEIR child…their idea is so far superior that they will do whatever it takes to see that come to fruition…including “beware false profits “…as you…I’m am looking hard to find common ground inspite of my gloomy post…I just fear our “tribe” may only be capable of periods of lucidity….hopefully I learn otherwise from your posts
Well said! Thank you for these words. I too have always believed that given the current, past, and most important, the future, that common ground is the key! Common ground is invariably the legacy of the upcoming generations. It grieves me deeply when I see those that ignore core values and REFUSE to rise above egotistical political drama, therefore failing to secure the present as well as the future of the next generations. THANK YOU Mr. Kent for using your platform to make us think about the effects of current events, in hope for a better future. I long for that common ground, and pray it manifests quickly. 🙌🏽 ((As an added note, I once suggested to my peers that environmental issues should be common ground. Sadly, it was not viable, even under the guise of securing the future for upcoming generations.))
We must now empty our minds of self-gratifying thoughts such as “the poisonous presence of Trump” and fill them with what we are learning as we live through this political nightmare and what we can do to end it. Trump is not accomplishing what he is without our cooperation, whether witting or not. We must listen to Chief Sitting Bull. As the little boy said when questioned about why he wouldn’t quit digging through a pile of manure, “With all this shit, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere.”
You are right. Common good and our children are our guides. One of the ways I engage in conversations with others, especially those who I think are holding onto party loyalty, is to reflect back. My family generally voted republican. What I believe is that if my dad were alive today he would put up two fists in defense of how to treat women, how to show respect and dignity. I say “ask yourself how would your parents have felt about the disgrace we are all suffering now. I also believe that my dad would have wept at the loss of decency.
Thank you for your encouragement. I will never give up my faith and my hope for a healthy world for my children and grandchildren to grow up in.
I have never been this scared about a political election in my 68 years of living. The GOP senators knew trump was guilty, and were afraid to give a guilty verdict. This leaves this unfit president (does not deserve that description) open to do anything he wants. NO ONE can stop him. I hope and pray our Democratic party will find & choose the correct person. My fear is, we don’t have a candidate that will be able to beat him. I have no answers, or words of wisdom>Our own Amy did a fantastic job on last night’s debate stage, however, I don’t know if she could win. Lets all try to be positive, AND Vote blue, our lives depend on it.
Yes. However, if the planet is too poisoned, overcrowded, and destroyed to support the lives of our children, then economics (with the accumulation of wealth as the primary objective) will fail to matter. Environment and economics are inextricably intertwined. The health of one is dependent on the health of the other. I think we need to strive for a healthy economy that enables all citizens to lead a healthy, sustainable life and make choices that support environmental health. Greed (at the top) and poverty (at the bottom) are both damaging to the environment.
We have one job and one job only this fall and that is to vote, en masse, for whomever the Dems put forward. No hand wringing about whether or not she/he fits most closely your my philosophies, no “we need a third party” whining. Stuff your consciences and personal convictions this year and vote to get rid of the dictator in Washington.