Commentary

United no more. But there’s hope.

Americans can emerge from the nation’s political morass by recapturing what used to be our “united” states, our moral compass, writes guest columnist James C. Nelson.

September 25, 2023 6:30 pm

(Wikimedia Commons)

This column was first published by the Daily Montanan.

The “United” States aren’t anymore.

Politically, our country is a train wreck – polarized, partisan and divisive. We have lost our moral compass; no longer united in the underlying democratic principles that gave birth to our republic; failing to work together to address existential threats to the continued survival of our species and many of the plants and animals upon which we depend; refusing to celebrate and honor our diversity and our individual, inviolable human dignity; unwilling to move our evolutionary needle forward in what may well be the geological blink-of-an-eye we have left to accomplish that; and staring into the abyss of authoritarianism and fascism.

Our federal legislative branch, Congress, is a joke—a taxpayer-funded food fight, populated with prima donnas, demigods, and, in large part, old white men and women. While the two major parties have always had different ideologies, there was a time when they could work across the aisle to govern for the good of the country.  But, now, what passes for governance is no longer of the people, by the people, and for the people, but, rather, of the party, by the party, and for the party—indeed, worse: of the extremists, by the extremists and for the extremists.

And then there’s the executive branch, the presidency.  The incumbent who, by most metrics, has done well by the country, albeit considered by many to be too old for another four years, is up against the most likely challenger: Impeached twice, facing 91 counts of state and federal criminal charges, and a pathological liar who lives in his own unhinged, mentally-disordered reality.

Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court – partisan; ignoring precedent; insuring that the right of women to control their own reproductive choices will be a political decision, instead of the medical one it is–and, encouraging paternalism, patriarchy and misogyny;  throwing voters under the bus of politicized state suppression and subversion of our sacred right of suffrage; facilitating sectarianism along with homo- and transphobia under the guise of free speech and religious liberty;  and unwilling to establish its own code of ethics, while tolerating a level of corruption that would, very properly, result in the impeachment or recall of offending jurists in those states that still value fair, independent and impartial courts.

Is there a remedy before our democracy dies?  In the short term, I doubt it. The train has already jumped its tracks.

But in the long term?  Maybe.

Americans can salvage it by coming to their senses, and if we recapture what used to be our “united” states, our moral compass.

It may take living under authoritarianism for a while.

Where will we start? Probably by making some basic amendments to our federal Constitution.

We must dump the Electoral College. We must impose term limits on every elected and appointed official, jurists included–20 years or age 70, whichever comes first. We must guarantee in the most unassailable terms possible one-person-one-vote, human dignity, no discrimination, and the true equality and civil rights of every human being.

We must impose firm campaign spending limits and financing regulations. Money must not equal speech.  It is insane that America spends billions of dollars and endures years of campaigning to elect those who are supposed to be representing “We the People.” If we cannot elect public officials in three months, with voters taking the time and interest to determine candidate qualifications and ideologies based on factual messaging, then we truly deserve the train wreck along with the partisan hacks we presently elect.

We might adopt a parliamentary system–one requiring coalitions of those elected to join together to form a working government.

Indeed, as King Arthur was dying he uttered: “The old order changeth, yielding place to the new, and God fulfils Himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world.”

What started as the good custom of our United Republic, has been corrupted by extremist partisan politics and venal politicians.

It is time for the old order to change–and yield place to a new.

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