If there is one thing to ‘get’ from study of the founding generation it is that unity was the most important goal of politics and much was sacrificed to achieve that goal. Maintenance of unity is the very reason our most cherished document, the United States Constitution, was born and it is announced as such in the very first sentence: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
In 2008, when the Democrats assumed the presidency in addition to the majority in congress that they already held, even though their party is the oldest in the country, dating back to the days of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, not only had they forgotten what the constitution says about the role of government in society, they also neglected its entire purpose – Unity – and the kinds of compromises necessary in order to maintain it. It is one thing to be bold and out on the edge, but there is never a time when it is appropriate or desirable, when entrusted with leadership and governance, to go so far out on the edge that it alienates a large portion of We the People and sacrifices the elements of unity our forbearers fought, bled and died to maintain.
When those of us who felt alienated made our feelings known in mass, we were mocked and ridiculed. We were labeled with all matters of slurs and insults, and though peaceful we were blamed for random acts of violence, all for speaking truth to power and refusing to follow them down a path to destruction like mindless lemmings. We were the first to see the coming train wreck of big government and mercantilism, and cared enough about the heart and soul of this country to become involved, using ballots instead of bullets.
Now, we are seeing a second wave of “disaffected” individuals involved in protests against the mercantilism of crony capitalism. These are the people who didn’t believe us when we told them how dangerous and devastating big government really is to our economy and our society, and likely still do not understand the true cause of their discontent. Some have wrapped the discontent in the package of what they believe, fostered by what rhetoric they have heard. Some even believe that higher taxes on others will benefit them in some way; but of course we know that serves only to make the problem worse, government bigger, and even less responsive to the General Welfare of the nation.
I am disappointed in the response of our leaders and our movement to theirs even though we are upset about many of the same things; we are ALL Americans and ALL going through hard times with a government that has a mind of its own. We are upset about the crony capitalism that caused this economic crisis in the first place that still remains unaddressed. We are upset about the Federal Reserve as an enabler, along with the role of the FDIC and the GSEs in the housing and financial crises. We are upset that people are still out of work, that the employment market is dysfunctional, and more and more people are being reduced from sold middle class to living in boxes by the day. The most important thing we have in common, however, is the felling that government, as large as it is, is completely deaf. Yet our leaders mock these mostly young people instead of looking at the fact that many of them are affected by the same real problems we are and they likely do not really know how to solve them. We need to show them and help them – not mock them.
We should be finding places where we agree, like those listed above, and really start working on solving them in a way that does not require drastic compromises in principle on our part. We can start working on the financial regulatory structure in a very public way, holding House hearings, etc… We can at least make those people feel like someone is listening to them, even though we do not all agree on everything. We can and should do everything we can to foster unity, and I fear greatly for the future of this great nation if we turn away.