It seems the United States is approaching an urgent crossroads — not unlike the Revolutionary War era or the Civil War years, or the period of the Great Depression. By now, most Americans have the clear sense that something big has to give before the country can move on and recover.
This is reflected in the inability of the federal government to move past the stark divisions that have surfaced in recent years and intensified greatly over the past decade. Both sides have managed at times to cling to enough power to thwart the other side but never acquire enough to move their own agenda forward.
Today, the tea party on the right and the Occupy Wall Street protesters on the left are expressing overwhelming frustration with our unresponsive, status-quo federal government and the never-ending crises associated with a sinking economy for most citizens and endless debt that threatens our long-term prosperity and national security.
Congress and the president, however, can’t come close to agreeing on any approach that might actually have a nationwide effect. If the Civil War scenario plays out again, we are headed for a constitutional crisis — perhaps a violent one — before someone wins and someone loses, and the major issues of the day are decided for the foreseeable future. Some days, that looks more like the inevitable conclusion, which no one seems able or willing to deflect.
As a nation, we have always fared better keeping stubborn philosophies out of the political equation. Voters might consider whether a candidate fits that immovable mold before casting their next ballot. Rejecting philosophy over pragmatism — religiously, if you will — is something an individual can do, all on his or her own. It might just work.
Bennington (Vt.) Banner (Oct. 19)