Copyright (c) 2010 Scott F Paradis
Newton's third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Well, there is no better laboratory to observe the functioning of this law than in the federal government of the United States, most notably through its two party system. No matter the quality of an idea or the promise of a program, if one party offers it, the other party must oppose - adamantly and vehemently. Any sign of compromise, any show of weakness would indicate to well-healed benefactors that the offending politician is not up to the charge - to fulfill the will and intent of that special interest.
The situation in Washington has become so grave, evidently the members comprising the ideological wings of the two dominant parties agree on only one point: under no circumstances should power be diluted or distributed to the people. The more concentrated the power the more accessible the levers with which to manipulate the system for partisan advantage. So over the course of two hundred years power has flowed into the hands of captains of industry and titans of finance by way of the foot soldiers who make it all possible - politicians. The elite and the extremists who prefer this course would rather see the entire system fail, than put at risk their gravy train.
Today our federal republic serves special interests with single-minded focus. The "common good" is a well-worn and long-discarded concept. But this dismissal has not been without consequence. The truth the thoughtful elite are reticent to reveal is that the only way out of the economic and fiscal mess we have created for ourselves is by way of shared sacrifice and pain. To veer from this course of assured self destruction we must at once reshape our economy our governance and our place in the world, and make the ruling elite responsible citizens of the republic which has bestowed on them such ill-deserved favor.
Realizing the common good entails change and renewal - the likes of which have never been undertaken before. The United States is fast approaching a crisis point demanding fundamental change. However, if any nation can change, if any people can commit to remaking themselves - it is the people of these United States.
Carl von Clausewitz, a19th Century Prussian strategic theorist, famously proclaimed, "War is the continuation of politics by another means." In the United States today - politics is war by another means. The weapons are words, the intermediate objectives are votes, and the endgame is power. We ignore the rancor and rhetoric of this game at our own peril. This isn't the meaningless entertainment of weekend sports. At risk are the lives of our children, our integrity and, as dire as it sounds: our sacred honor. We, the people, must bring civility back into politics and must shoulder the necessary burden to begin anew.
So much power, wealth and influence have been ceded to the federal government only the wisest and most selfless among us could dare to wield that power responsibly and justly. As the likelihood of identifying and installing those people bears little promise in reality, the citizens must once again govern. In doing so the people must not fall victim to the "either - or" choices of the polarized parties. America cannot afford "more of the same."
Money, power and ideological extremism have corrupted the system. Relying on the status quo we cannot even begin to steer away from the path of self destruction. Partisan power politics is destroying America. It is time the people take on the task of governing and find a productive way between the uncompromising extremes before it is too late.