Saturday, April 23, 2016

OUR NATION'S POLITICAL DIVIDE HAS BECOME A MASSIVE CHASM: NO RELIEF IN SIGHT

As the 2016 Presidential election draws ever nearer, with contentious battles within both parties, vehement positions are being taken both within and between the two parties. Many words and relentless energy is being expended, and the gulf that exists between the opposing sides seems to have reached a magnitude that suggests reconciliation will be more difficult than ever, if not impossible. Both sides promise solutions, and are enthusiastic about the proposals they are recommending to the public. But neither side is discussing how they will breech the gap that exists in the nation's political divide.

 To be certain, these divides have always existed, and are especially pronounced during presidential campaigning. For the effective functioning of our nation's tri-parte Federal System, some degree of reconciliation and compromise between the opposing sides is necessary to avoid governmental stalemate and breakdown.  But since Obama's election in 2008,  the political divide in Congress has only grown, resulting in a degree of polarization and gridlock in considering and approving essential governmental actions that is unprecedented. As basic, key aspects of our nation's well-being continue to decline, because of governmental stalemate and inaction, the nation's impotence in bringing the sides together so that prime problems can be dealt with is a sorry sight to see, both for our own population and for the world. The problems are obvious, such as income disparity, infrastructure failure, youth unemployment, educational quality and opportunity, affordable health care, criminal justice reform, immigration management, environmental concerns, foreign policy quagmires,  the list could go on indefinitely. In recent years, only affordable health care has been approached with any significant, wide-ranging legislation, producing a controversial result that has admitted holes and flaws. With the other problems, much discussion, little or no action, and opposing sides growing ever further apart.

 In this scenario, it is no wonder this election year is revealing, to the dismay of both major party establishments, that a strong anti-establishment feeling is gripping the country and influencing voters preference of presidential candidates.  Within the Republican Party, the established power system is in total disarray, their preferred candidates were disposed of early by voters, only two anti-establishment candidates remain as viable existing candidates. For the Democratic Party, no one expected their chosen presumptive candidate to receive formidable opposition, certainly not from an independently-minded democratic socialist from a small state with little organizational backing. They were massively wrong, and are struggling to have their candidate mount the enthusiasm, the primary votes, and the small donor contributions of the challenger, even as he faces major structural obstacles to his success.

Whoever wins the party nomination battles, and the ultimate prize of the presidency, one thing remains certain, and it presents a staggering national problem that none of the candidates are adequately addressing--how can they lessen the divide that has blocked effective political action in our nation during the past seven years?  This divide has only been made more extreme, more intense, more profound, by the election campaigning.  The two currently leading candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have disapproval ratings well over 50%, both among the general population and among members of Congress, which is very rare for presidential nominees. Not a good sign for cooperation and success if elected. The other two ranking candidates, Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz, represent diametrically opposed sides of the political continuum, one a very progressive self-described democratic socialist, the other a right-wing religious fundamentalist who eschews any compromise with opposing factions.

 With both parties having an internal divide, and the separation between the parties growing to insurmountable degrees, it is difficult to foresee how the government might function following the election. Yet neither party, nor none of the candidates, are discussing this issue, as if only winning the election is important, not what is to follow in the form of achievable government action. It would take a demonstrably strong leader, with a clear mandate to govern and policies designed to bridge the existing gap while still moving the nation forward in dealing with pressing problems, to meet our nation's current needs. That leader does not seem to be in sight, another indication of the failure of our nation's political establishment in recent years. One can only hope that this forecast is incorrect, but from this perspective, it does seem that our nation's political divide is likely to only grow more volatile, more dangerous, more intense as a result of this election, with no relief on the foreseeable horizon.  There may well be very dangerous days ahead for our country, all of this year's political rhetoric notwithstanding, and in fact, unfortunately a likely contributing factor.