I start here: In many ways, we Americans and our descendants are stuck with each other for the long term. Therefore, the most important thing we can learn is how to live together—freely, civilly, justly, productively, and sustainably.
But we are not making progress in learning to live together. More nearly, we have been losing ground in recent decades. Our polarized partisanship makes it difficult or impossible to deal reasonably and practically with any other issue we face. We are stuck, stalled. Neither party can achieve anything that lasts, because that would require bipartisanship.
It seems to me that more than enough people have chosen sides in our polarized partisanship, and that choosing sides has not proven to be productive. Choosing sides appears to me to be a direct path to impasse.
So I will try something else, that I am trying to figure out here. I work partly in blog entries and partly in essays like this one.
Stuck with each other?
From 2008-2016, many Americans lived with a Democratic President that they did not vote for and many did not like or admire. Now, many other Americans are living with a President that they did not vote for and don’t much like or admire. Since 1952, with only two exceptions, the Presidency has passed from one party to the other every eight years. We are stuck with each other.
In 2009 and 2010, Democrats had majorities in both houses of Congress; they passed legislation that at least some Republicans didn’t much like. Now Republicans have majorities in both houses of Congress, and they are likely to pass legislation that Democrats won’t much like. One party controlling the Presidency and both houses of Congress is the exception, not the rule. Much of the time, control is divided between the major parties. We are stuck with each other.
A 5-to-4 decision by the US Supreme Court is the law of the land for all of us, whether we agreed with the 5 or agreed with the 4. We are stuck with each other.
We are stuck with each other in many ways: Communicable diseases passing around in workplaces and schools in one American city travel by airplane and then pass around in workplaces and schools in another city a thousand miles way. Workers in Oregon and Washington pay into a Social Security System that writes checks for retirees in North Carolina and Florida–and vice versa. Electricity generated in one state is transmitted to and used in another state hundreds of miles away; we have a national electrical grid. If an assembly plant in one place closes, it stops ordering parts from suppliers for hundreds of miles around, and people lose jobs in those parts suppliers.
If we just stop, look around, and think, we can see that we are interconnected and interdependent in many ways. We and our descendants are stuck with each other for the long term. If we understand that we are stuck with each other, then we can see that we need to learn to live together in some reasonable fashion.