The U.S. struggles to act as the world’s policeman, but we can’t help others unless they can govern themselves.
The crucial question is: Can we govern ourselves?
The U.S. is polarized. The polarity is ascribed to the disparity between the haves who are doing better because money makes opportunity, and the have-nots who are doing worse. But the division of wealth might not be the entire reason governance is failing.
Congress is divided, each side determined not to let something good happen because the other side might get credit for it. So nothing gets done.
We voters therefore ignore the congress, although that’s where the inaction is. With Congress committed to squabbling, we voters act as though the next president will save the government, and thereby save us, our way, our place, our culture, our society. But, as said before, saviors are in short supply.
We want a president who will discipline the corruption in congress. Actually, most voters want a president who will override congressional inaction. Until the president assumes too much authority, that is.
We want a president who will handle war and peace, never mind that only congress can declare war. Actually, the president alone can’t save us from international developments, immigration, Wall Street, pollution, and the polarization we create for ourselves.
Many voters seek a president who will relieve them of the burdens of democracy, the problems raised by the spectacular TV infotainment that passes as news each night. Actually, that suggests many voters want a benign dictatorship.
It can’t happen. Not until we require candidates with solutions rather than ideological words. Not until we realize that the only way to manage the emergence of big, bad effects in a complex society is to subject ourselves to rules. Absolute freedom is just another word for chaos.
It can’t happen. Not until we require congressional candidates who have allegiance to the nation rather than to districts, special financial interests, and ideologies.
It can’t happen. Not as long as political advertising is made of attack ads.
It can’t happen. Not until we pass the constitutional amendment that an overwhelming fraction of people want—the prohibition of money in politics.
It can’t happen. Not until major political parties work for good governance rather than domination. Winning isn’t everything.
It seems like it can’t happen. But it can.
All it would take is a united citizenship that demands governance more than ideology. Can you imagine choosing a president, and a senator, a congressman, and a governor … each from between two very desirable candidates? Statesmen rather than competitors. Statesmen rather than ideologues.