There was a time, in the 1770’s, when a group of Colonists stood up to a king who was supported by a sizable number of their fellow Colonists. The notion that citizens should answer to no king was quite a radical notion then. Government by the people and for the people was a novel concept. Still, the independence movement gained traction and we became our own country.
Our founding fathers were not perfect, but they did a remarkable job setting the stage for the United States to become a global super power. Our initial form of government, the Articles of Confederation, failed miserably and was replaced in relatively short order by what we now know as the US Constitution. Current advocates for ceding all power to the individual states would do well to review why the Articles of Confederation failed.
Over the years, we’ve fixed some of the compromises and mistakes made by the founding fathers. Among other things, slavery was abolished and women and blacks were given the right to vote. In hindsight, some of the fixes were mistakes. The most obvious one being prohibition. Our Supreme Court has also changed its interpretation of the Constitution over the years. A prime example is that Plessy v. Ferguson was replaced by Brown v. Board of Education.
The United States has been at its best when it has been united. The country came together during the World Wars and again proved that anything is possible when we put a man on the moon in 1969.
It has been at its weakest when it has been divided. This was true during the 1860’s and it is true today as voices on the margins attempt to tear the country apart.
Neither today’s far right or far left voices speak for the vast majority of Americans. It is time for politicians to speak out against the excesses of the extremes. Republican Liz Chaney is right to call out those who were responsible for the attempted overthrow of the US government after the 2020 election and Democrat Val Demings is right to label bad ideas like defunding the police as “just crazy.”
In spite of the today’s political rancor, I believe our best days are still ahead of us, especially if we concentrate on the things that we can broadly agree on. It used to be possible in Washington and state capitals. The way we operate in New Port Richey proves that it is still possible. The fact that our city council elections are non-partisan certainly helps. Instead of political posturing, we work to build a consensus on the best ways to address the issues of the day. Perhaps it is time to make ALL elections non-partisan.
We should demand that our leaders address issues where there is a broad consensus among Americans. I can think of several examples, but here is one:
I believe that a majority of Americans would like us to be fully energy independent so that we can tell Russia and OPEC where to stick their oil. This year has once again proven that we are at the mercy of global disruptions to the oil market. The spike in oil prices is driving much of the inflation we currently see.
The rest of the world is responding to the current crisis and growing concerns about the environment by starting to move away from oil. Why is it so difficult to convince members of congress that we need to turn our technological and industrial might to the task of addressing the current global energy transition with the sort of focus and resolve we had with both the Apollo program and saving the world during World War II? We could be creating millions of good paying jobs right here in America in the process. We should step up to the role of leaders rather than letting other countries, like China, take command.
Clean air and water, affordable medications, hardening our electrical grid to protect it from cyber attacks and making sure that our electrical grid continues to grow as demand increases are all things that SHOULD be non-partisan issues. Seriously, who is going to want to campaign for dirty air, contaminated water, sky high medication costs, or blackouts? Solving these and other issues like them should be easy, if the people in congress would simply stop bickering and trying to gain a temporary partisan advantage.
Let’s start with the easy to agree on issues and go from there. If our existing two major political parties can’t work together, perhaps it is time to chuck them. I don’t believe it is accidental that the second largest voting block in Pasco County is “None of the Above” (NPA). The dominant political parties have changed repeatedly over the course of our country’s history. I suspect that a political party that refuses to pander to either right wing or left wing extremists would rapidly become the dominant party here in Pasco County. I can’t help but wonder if that might well be true in the rest of Florida and the country.
So as we celebrate our nation’s independence, lets reflect on the best ways to bring our country together when so many seem only interested in tearing it apart.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor