We are constantly bombarded by people screaming we must “take back” the country, particularly during an election year. As if it has been stolen by rebel forces whose primary mission is to destroy it. Alternately we are told we must take back the country from the President, radical right-wingers, bleeding heart liberals, big government and corporations. We must fight and take it back from the Muslims, Jews, Catholics, gun nuts, constitution eroders, freedom inhibitors, women haters, and lobbyists. We must wretch these precious United States from the destructive grips of excessive regulation, government intrusion, privacy destroyers, the military war machine, tax and spenders, tax relievers, social program slash and burners, terrorists, poor people sucking off the system, rich people skirting around the system, liberals, conservatives, tea partiers, environmentalists, intelligent designers, evolutionists, scientists and bible thumpers. It seems as though everyone believes any group of people whose interests contradict theirs are somehow purposely steering the country into an abyss from which it will never recover. It is curious that with all these divergent factions trying to grab power from whomever and however they can most seem to have forgotten one thing in their ranting rhetoric, one bedrock guiding principle upon which this nation was founded: “We the people.”

This idea has been dissected to death in other forums far more eloquently than in this one, but still bears repeating. If we view every divergent opinion as evil, so evil that its ultimate intent is to destroy our way of life, then our problems are far graver than mere ideological debates. They speak to the core of who we are and have become as a society. They tell us we no longer feel the democratic ideal applies. They tell us we no longer believe the purpose of a democracy is to give voice to those who would be muzzled under other forms of government.  They tell us the basic concept of evaluating the merit of all ideas, especially those which do not subscribe 100% to what we personally believe, is a foolish and antiquated notion. They tell us that “we the people” really means “me the person.” Once we start deriding and dismissing everything we think may be contrary to our self-interests, once we adopt a strategy which pits neighbor against neighbor, once we have recklessly jettisoned the belief that working towards the common good is ultimately what defines a great nation, we have reached the tipping point. When we have dissolved into that kind of society these differences which currently barrage us will seem inconsequential. When that moment comes the thing we will most desperately need to recover, to take back – the belief and trust in “we the people” – will remain forever buried with the Jeffersons, Washingtons, Lincolns and the countless soldiers, freedom fighters and citizens who have given their lives for 240 years to ensure that ideal lives on. And when that moment comes it may be too late to take it back.

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Comments
  1. True! This is a very valid point that points to another disheartening fact, many people have become too schooled that they reject education. They consider themselves learned in their fields and see it as humiliating to learn from other people. Learning is simply the way foward but pride stands in the way for many. The cure for ignorance starts from accepting humility. Humility is a major component of teachability. Good observation, welldone!

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  2. Your observation is alarmingly accurate.
    Funny enough, some people have hi-jacked the people’s opinion, by engineering the media to project their own personal interests as the collective interest.
    Many people are even to ignorant to decifer what is good for everyone by themselves. Most of these wars and rumors of wars are as a result of engineered ideas. A few people run the affairs while the rest are like pieces and pawns on a chessboard. I really wonder how, if and when, an issue of this magnitude can be resolved.

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    • John says:

      You make valid, if disheartening, points. At the risk of repeating a previous reply to a comment one good place to start is for people to take it upon themselves to be more educated about that which swirls around and impacts them.

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  3. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Good one, Traskie!!

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  4. Are you sure we haven’t reached that moment yet? If not, we’re awfully close…

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  5. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Well said, and I agree largely with your sentiments. Frankly, I’m glad that I’m living in a time when information flows freely. Granted, you have to plow through a lot of opinions and facts, but I feel more informed and better prepared to vote. But, I’ll be honest: I confess to finding it difficult to keep the animosity towards certain views and, yes, individuals, out of my life these days. Views that disenfranchise, condemn and marginalize groups of people are vile. I look at the holders of these views and know that I could never be so generous as to want to be friends with them. I take that as a fact of life. I watched the debate between O’Reilly and Stewart last evening and was impressed with their decorum. O’Reilly said something profound – that the media has allowed certain personalities (I think he might have been talking about Limbaugh and Hannity) to encourage hate among opposing individuals – so much so, that we all take it as an accepted form of discourse to be hateful in our speech. When will it all end? When will we return to civil discourse?

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    • John says:

      Sadly, sometimes I suspect civil discourse was not as civil as we remember or imagine it was. I know it’s a cliche, but civility starts with each and every individual. Hopefully, it will spread from there.

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  6. surroundedbyimbeciles says:

    As a historian, I’m not sure we need to go back to the principles of the Founders. For example, under their rules only adult white male landowners could vote, and Jefferson’s original wording was the pursuit of property.

    People denounce the “me” mentality, but that was the basis of the nation’s creation. It is true that people with different political ideologies worked together more in the past, but there were times of worse conflict than now.

    I believe today’s issues stem from the radicals from both ends of the spectrum. Neither side is willing to listen to the ideas of the other.

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    • John says:

      I agree we would not like to emulate all of the founding principles. I also realize I am probably spitting in the wind thinking people will become more selfless. Yet if we don’t recognize and try to address this core flaw (rhyme!) in the way we operate things will probably continue to deteriorate. No one wants that. At least I hope no one wants that.

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  7. I could not have said this better, John. I often read online news from other countries to see what coverage we’re missing here. It’s amazing how by reading newspapers from Canada and the UK, you can see how deeply skewed our media is.

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    • John says:

      All media, by its very nature, is skewed. While I have no doubt the media is partially to blame for some of the division we’re experiencing, it is still the responsibility of the population to seek out facts.

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  8. rangewriter says:

    Beautifully said. Thanks.

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  9. Here, here! Brilliantly stated. I’m so tired of, “Me the person.” I’d like to return to our founding principles, namely, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I’d like very much to continue the great experiment of democracy that we’ve enjoyed in our country. It’s worked fairly well for the first 200 plus years. Sure, we’ve fought, struggled, evolved and matured, but in general, our foundation/constitution is solid and remains the cornerstone of our American existence. We must do everything in our power to protect those guiding principles. We need to protect, “We the people.”

    Currently, I’m incensed by our media. The media seems to have taken on a dangerous and powerful role in undermining our political system. Gone are the days when reporters were neutral and the facts they presented were without spin. Now the media has an agenda, they are unapologetically biased. They’re very powerful and persuasive. And let’s face it, because of this, they’re now dangerous to our way of life. The average Joe, turning on the evening news, has no idea that he’s ingesting “facts” that have been altered in such a way as to elicit certain responses. It’s insidious. He’s trusting and sadly unaware that he is being manipulated.
    I actually found the debate format to be quite refreshing, if only for the fact that it was the first time you could see and hear the two candidates stripped down and without all the spin. (That didn’t stop the media from afterwards telling the American people what they just saw.) haha!

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    • John says:

      If the average Joe is unaware of the manipulation of the news it is as much an indictment of our educational system as our media.

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      • That’s true enough. I agree. I just know that we’ve grown up trusting what we hear and read. Maybe younger generations will be more savvy and less manipulated than the older ones. My mother, for example, repeats verbatim what she hears and thinks it’s reliable.

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  10. There was a time when the bitterness ended after the election was over and rational Americans realized that if the President succeeded, we all succeeded – and vice versa. Now it seems people want the President to fail if he is of a different party than they are. I don’t get it. We must learn to lay politics aside and root for the country as a whole until the next election. Great post.

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    • John says:

      There’s politics and then there is real life. Unfortunately, when the two meet in any sort of meaningful way, the infuriating self-interest groups try to crush meaningful progress.

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  11. Yes, and that moment may arrive sooner rather than later. With all the obstructionism that occurs today, combined with the revisionist history that many now believe as fact, it will be difficult to evaluate the social contract that started this country in the context of that time period and apply those same values to the post industrial, now some might argue service oriented society that exists today. Our civil rights as “guaranteed” by the Bill of Rights have been severely abridged since 2001 and the eventual passage of the Patriot Act. I also think the growth of Randian objectivism with its glorification of selfishness and greed that supersedes the other concept put forth of the ideal of personal best in all of one’s endeavors has done more harm than good, and sadly many of those in power are hard-core Randians except they eschew the atheism that Rand argued for. Which is kind of ironic if you think about it.

    To quote one of my favorite television shows, “The world is doomed.” I just hope the doom happens after I’m gone.

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    • John says:

      Being selfish and self-centered is part of the human condition. Fortunately, there’s always a segment of society who see beyond their narrow little worldview. We all need to take a hard look at ourselves and decide if we’re contributing to the decline of the social contract or if we are willing to give a little towards the ultimate benefit of all.

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