Living in a World of Symbols and Labels

When the news isn’t dominated by disasters, natural or man-made, we see a war of symbols and labels.  Statues of Confederate leaders are symbols of white supremacy, tear them down. Pro football players  taking a knee during the national anthem are making a symbolic statement against police brutality. Others cry they’re disrespecting our symbols of our freedom. Words such bigot. elitist, racist, establishment, deniers of either science or free speech are all tossed about like so much confetti. These dominate the discourse between members any political persuasion. Symbolic gestures and name calling have effectively replaced the actual hard work of problem solving reform.

Think about it, nothing of consequence has made it through the congress since the first two Obama Years. Obamacare and Dodd-Frank  are the last major Laws to pass and even they are in dire need of repair or repeal.  Without a big injection of public money, Obamacare will crumble and Dodd-Frank never solved “too big to fail.”  Taxes, medical care and immigration among other things are brought up but never make it to the finish line. Executive orders are issued to fill gaps only to be revoked by the next administration. None of this supports important  long-term planning.  Coming together to achieve anything seems smothered by our animosities.

It’s one thing to have a discussion between respectful people and it’s quite another thing if one side thinks the others are bigots or elite authoritarians. Take this idea of “America’s Original Sin” labeling everyone associated with the our nation’s founding and their successors as unredeemed sinners. That leaves little or no room for a dialogue on race relations. This canyon creator publicized by Jim Walls’s book of the same name and the constant reference to the phrase by left leaning leaders has virtually stopped meaningful dialogue on improving the prospects of our underclass. If your opening statement in a discussion is “what are you sinners going to do for us to redeem yourselves?” We and we’ll bet a majority of Americans just tune you out.  Worse it’s shoddy thinking.  Applying today’s values and sensibilities to another era is an easy way to make false judgements. Real historians and archeologists try to understand the world as it was at a particular time.  At the time of our Nation’s constitutional formation, who in the world had any individual rights? One could argue the English had some protections and the right to representation on key issues such as taxes. This explains why the actual body of our Declaration of Independence reads as a bill of particulars against the crown for denying the colonists their rights as Englishmen.  The great republics of history such as Athens, Rome and Venice only had rights for their citizens but they all had slaves and they were definitely were not considered citizens. The idea of people as chattels was firmly entrenched for thousands of years the world over.  The United States wasn’t the first or the last to do away with the concept in the 19th century sea of change. Nor was “people as chattels” limited to a certain race or races. For instance, Russian serfs, white as their masters were only freed a few years before our civil war. Pinning the practice of “people of as chattels”, a virtually universal practice, on one group as an “Original Sin” in order to condemn them to eternal shame just doesn’t make sense. This is hardly an invitation for friendly discussion. Instead it widens the chasm. One could hope a better tone coming from the top, but unfortunately we have the labeler-in-chief as president. We are divided by the abyss.

In any case, the voters that put Trump into the Presidency just don’t see themselves as swimming in a sea of “White Privilege.”   Many of them feel just as forgotten and left behind, as those in poor circumstances voting for Clinton. Guess what? Both are correct. Our poor educational system fails the less fortunate children of any race or background.  Cultural norms where you grow up affects us for the rest of our lives. Some places provide a boost and some unfortunately especially in less affluent areas detract. Increasing the mobility of all citizens to seek a locale with better prospects would allow people to escape dead ends. After all, that was the motivation for the vast majority of people who came to our shores. Can’t we all agree on providing an educational system attune to our rapidly changing world? Life long learning is the future and we need to help all our people in that direction.  Improving  mobility also includes the removal of impediments. Getting the best out of all our citizens should be our national purpose.

All this is leading to widespread discouragement among those who just want to solve problems.  We here feel this with Dave’s Plan.  Not in any particular camp, we’re suspect by all. Just the mention of a mandate and you’ve lost one big chunk of the populace and the widespread use of the marketplace chases off the rest. Never entertain the thought  that this may actually provide universal care at a reasonable price. Having enough regard for others to listen to them is the first step to understanding and compromise.  Apparently this is a lost art.

 

 

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