30 Aug 2022

Through the Eyes of a Septuagenarian: This Fractured Republic


The PolicySmith has in the course of jotting observations, mostly attempted even-handed examination of issues of the day. An overarching mindset is to call a spade a spade, if not a damned shovel. I invite this readership to take a virtual ride with me through some perspectives and reflections on the state of our republic as viewed by the citizenry, our allies, our foes and those not so fortunate to win the life lottery of being born a North American.

In the past seven-plus decades the U.S. has endured much — Korea, the Cold War, energy crises, racial unrest (mostly warranted), Viet Nam, student uprisings, attacks on our soil by radical extremists, erosion of faith in our institutions and financial setbacks, among many others. Never have our collective emotions been this overwrought, this divided. The center/common ground once shared by most has cratered into a chasm with opposite sides snarling at each other across the abyss.

Virtually every issue has been weaponized to feed the outrage, the distrust of the opposite side, and wreak vengeance upon it.

  • The southern border is a human tragedy of suffering and death, illegal drug incursions and an avenue for terrorists to infiltrate — or — it is a beacon of hope for hapless millions born into poverty, whipped by vicious border patrol agents, victims of criminal government kleptocracies escaping on a path to hope and prosperity,
  • Donald Trump is the devil incarnate, beholden to Russia, a criminal seeking only to enrich himself and line his family’s pockets — or — Joe Biden is totally inept, beholden to China, absent cognitive skills who has sought and continues to seek to enrich himself and his family while in public office.
  • White supremacists rule the Republican Party and seek to suppress voters of color, visit violence upon them via murderous, racist law enforcement tactics and are promoters of the top once percent — or — the Democrats are nothing but bleeding hearts who hate the police, excuse criminal activity by minorities, seek to defund the police and advocate reparations for descendants of slaves.
  • Republicans are climate deniers who want the air and water polluted so that the oil and gas industry can maximize profits and lay waste to our nation’s wildlife, national parks, lakes and oceans — or — Democrats want to spend trillions on illusory environmental projects, electric cars and trucks, inflict harsh regulations with no visible benefits while applauding China, Russia, India and others pledging a cleaner environment while cynically accelerating growth in coal-fired power.
  • Republicans are warmongers who want to spend every tax dollar on weapons of war, exercise hegemony over those who oppose us and impose our will and vision around the globe — or — Democrats are lily-livered pacifists who search high and low for someone to apologize or surrender to.
  • The media were/are out to get Donald Trump — radio, TV and newspapers — the colleges and universities are factories for radical liberalism, advancing abortion on demand, free college and debt forgiveness, cancel culture, wokeness and libertine behaviors of all stripes — or — Fox News is a lie machine apologizing for Trump and Republican outlaw actions, talk radio and Rush Limbaugh are and were more of the same.
  • Middle America is nothing but ignorant hicks wedded to guns, beer, churches and mediocrity — or — coastal elites are rich snobs isolated from reality by their privilege, worshipping their cases of chardonnay and the bleatings of the Washington Post, NPR, PBS and New York Times (which, btw, hasn’t endorsed a Republican presidential candidate since Eisenhower).

Polarization and weaponization is our every day reality. Thanks to two septuagenarians — the current and immediate past President. Unlike the majority of their fellow 70-somethings, these two are mired in the win/lose of politics. Dogs are barking in both their heads. One made a mess of the transition and showed indifference to custodial niceties with sensitive national documents. The other said in his inaugural address:

“Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this, bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation.” There was more but you get the idea. In late August, 2022, less than two years later President Biden labeled MAGA Republicans “Semi-facists” and “a threat to our very democracy.”

Both of these men have seven-plus decades under their belts. Both have a tin ear when it comes to what this country is begging for — normalcy, morality, mutual respect — and yes — unity.

The view from inside our borders is one of turmoil, tit for tat, investigations, allegations, getting even.

What about the view from outside?

Our allies are flummoxed by our teetering politics and our foes see aggression opportunities — Ukraine, Taiwan, reengaging in an Iran nuclear deal and missles launched willy nilly by cousin Kim. Then there are your tired, your hungry — the huddled masses.

Millions of them from every corner of this globe cross the border every year. They aren’t focusing on the internal strife, the pitched political battles — they see opportunity. They see what America has always represented — freedom to be something, freedom from oppression, from crime, from poverty.

A television network interview captured the essence of that desire and the struggle to achieve it. An Afghan friendly of US troops escaped in the chaos of the US evacuation of Kabul, but had to leave his family behind. He was safe in New York City, but was determined to rescue his family and bring them to safety with him in the U S. He returned to Afghanistan, spirited his wife and son out of Kabul to a refugee camp run by US non-profits.

For more than a year, with no resources other than those he received from, as he called them, “American angels,” he tried to reach his American contacts who had assured him he would be taken care of. No success. But through the Americans in the refugee camp and beyond he and his family finally made their way to the United States.

This is a paraphrase of his sentiments related in the network television interview. He is now living in Ohio and is driving Lyft, and he has become the regular driver for comedian Dave Chapelle. He says America is the greatest country in history. The angels who helped him were so generous and so good natured he could not believe that so many like-minded exist here in America. Everyone is so friendly, so helpful and so accommodating. He seeks as his first imperative to imbue his son with this spirit of America…to raise him to love this country and learn to be a giver like the Americans he met and came to his aid.

There is much in need of repair in this country. Our politics are in shambles, our leadership is deeply flawed and our finances are wobbly. But in the heart and soul of everyday Americans — of Asian, Latino, European, first nations, African, Islander, whatever, basic decency, generosity and optimism remain at our core.

Would that our leadership in their advanced years — tap into the souls and wisdom of their electorate. One would think they could achieve that, at the very least, after seven plus decades…

2 Responses to Through the Eyes of a Septuagenarian: This Fractured Republic
  1. Comment *Vintage Jack, and neat as such. I can’t fight your analysis of the raging opposites; it is real and true. I suppose you are right also re th wide desire for something in between, though what that might look like I don’
    t know. As for your affirmation of most people, well, I like optimists and I certainly….. want….. to agree with you there also.

    Of course I may be one of those people your articulate essay is speaking to. I am definitely very much on one side of things, that is for sure. On the other hand, I am increasingly a drop out. I have not been reading the papers, so to speak, except for our local paper to follow local sports and local news. I just am not engaged in all the uproar and in fact am glad to be away from it. Just to start with, for God’s sake, it is summer!

    Now if I were called on to rule, then I would of course be engaged. Perhaps you and I together could straighten everything out. I would be glad to serve as your number 2. (But, sorry, Jack, no Liz Chaney on our team!).

    • Yes vintage it is, aging — like fine wine in the cellar, or, aging like a beached carp in the sun. No matter, your observation is well taken. Most of us are on one side and our endurance has waned to where we move to the sidelines until “whatever this is” plays out. The hyperbole, cynicism, and wretched overreach cannot be long endured. The uproar is now little more than background noise and each breach of former norms elicits little more than a shrug and and a yawn. Ho-hum, more ranting, gibberish and invective. “What’s for dinner, dear?”
      It’s American kabuki every day…it would be utter madness if it weren’t nothing but narcissistic claptrap masquerading as policy debate. We are way better than this — when that becomes the reality is anyone’s guess.


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