Every generation of Americans has seen its particular hatreds that seemed beyond any possible resolution, its street protests that led to fears of a societal breakdown, its prophets of radical ideas who disparaged those who preferred tradition over revolution, and its incompetent leaders who were overwhelmed by the historical moment. The medium for spreading division and anger has changed over time from smudged handbills cranked out on printing presses in dark basements to today’s social media bombing runs that light up the blogosphere with smug and self-satisfied rage, but the raucous and lacerating energy of our ancestors has continued undiminished since the founding of America.
However, what has now seemed to change is that no one seems very interested in changing minds anymore; all the effort is today directed at riling up one’s own true believers to a fever pitch. Candidates now avoid debates, journalists and their media masters now firmly align themselves with a single infuriated audience, and every question of policy is now framed as a struggle between the armies of good and evil. Even the celebrations of traditional holidays such as July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas have turned into unrelenting battlegrounds that tear many families asunder.
Discussion and debate in America is passé; embittered and venomous attack is now expected and encouraged.
Nonetheless, marketing one’s message—whether inside a classroom, on the campaign trail, or within a courthouse—to the ragged extremes of thought and emotion is a mistake because extreme ideological purity inevitably erodes the spirit of compromise necessary for a functioning democracy. Those who are convinced their viewpoints are the only ones worthy of any consideration make incredibly lousy citizens, and we see this amply illustrated every time anyone raises a doubt about the “settled science” du jour, questions the precepts of the transgender agenda, or wonders whether every every issue in American society actually boils down to race or ethnicity. A surely as the sun rises in the east each morning, so will the bug-eyed partisans on each side of any issue rush wildly to the attack.
Worse yet, fanatics have an unsurprising tendency to be truly terrible at whatever tasks they have been elected or assigned to do, which has become abundantly apparent over the past few years.
Scurrilous personal attacks are a poor substitute for logic and reason, but this stops few from ranting and raving. Passionate beliefs must, of course, be supported, but blind partisanship should be discouraged at every turn. The most pressing question we face today is whether this is even possible due to the explosive and divisive impact of the outrageously unfair commentary and social media character assassination that now rules our online existences, journalistic endeavors, and individual discussions. It is no mystery why so many reasonable observers have gone so far as to question whether we are headed for a national crack up as a consequence.
However, even with all the ideological headwinds we face today, it could and should be possible to change the tenor of our national conversations, but one enormous change would need to happen first: Those who work for government or otherwise owe their livelihoods to taxpayers must learn to both do their appointed jobs and, as the saying goes “stay in their lanes” while doing them.
Our nation’s school teachers must, for example, reconnect with the reality that they have been hired to teach specific course content while inculcating students with diligent work habits and a sense of personal responsibility—and this work is being done on behalf of the parents and communities whom they serve.
Nowhere in any educator’s employment contract are they being asked to proselytize for gender fluidity, prepare the next generation of Marxist revolutionaries, or convince impressionable young people that America is a land of hatred and oppression that is intent on crushing their personal aspirations. Moreover, any attempt to usurp the legitimacy or authority of their students’ parents by attacking the moral and ethical values of individual parents or their communities as a whole are an obvious violation of the professional trust inherent in their jobs, and this should be considered to be grounds for immediate dismissal if these transgressions continue.
Given the abysmal academic outcomes at so many of our nation’s public schools, it seems clear that teachers—as well as school librarians, building administrators, and state and local school boards—should stay in their lanes and focus exclusively on the jobs they have been hired to do. Woke—but functionally illiterate—high school graduates have very limited future employment prospects, and their ability to work and support themselves and their families will be severely impeded.
To look at another example, elected officials and their bureaucratic minions seem to forget that exceedingly few Americans want them to use the powers of their offices to legislate and regulate our private speech and thoughts.
Given that we expect—enforcing health and safety codes, maintaining our infrastructure, ensuring public safety, and pursuing a vigorous national defense—compared with the sad reality of censorious scolds who apparently find the quotidian business of their actual jobs rather boring, it is little wonder why many American are wondering whether we need to focus much more on fixing potholes and much less on picking pronouns.
With so many basic and necessary aspects of governance so egregiously and flagrantly in absolute crisis today—border security and our collapsing national fiscal integrity being but two prominent examples—you would think our elected leaders and appointed bureaucrats would have little time for grievance politics and a hunt for non-Woke miscreants. Unfortunately, staying in their lanes and doing their jobs has been largely discarded in favor of pushing the theatrics of victimization to the furthest possible extreme.
Finally, it seems almost absurd to point out that our nation’s District Attorneys and judges should be doing their best to convict and incarcerate criminals, but this seems a radical notion in our nation today.
We are instead dealing with a near-Biblical plague of law non-enforcement that has made the lives of felons much easier while simultaneously damaging the public order necessary for a just and thriving civil society. The impunity with which violent criminals, drug dealers, and thieves now operate in so many of our major cities is a direct result of Woke professionals in our criminal justice system deciding that virtue signaling performances take precedence over actually protecting the law abiding public.
Rather than enabling a reign of terror that has eroded public safety to a point that sometimes seems to teeter on the brink of anarchy in order to satisfy their own private cultural fantasies, those in our court systems who live off the taxpayers’ dime should instead focus on one thing only: doing their damned jobs.
America has its problems; it always has and it always will. However, one problem that is unique in our history is the ongoing and inexcusable dereliction of duty that has become the most salient feature of our public schools, our institutions of government, and our nation’s court systems. Until those who care little for performing their particular jobs are flushed away, it is hard to see how we can get our country back on track.
It may not be easy to drive out these fools through elections, and many bureaucrats are able to hide themselves behind layers of civil service job protections, but cleansing our country of those who cannot stay in their lanes and focus on the duties they were elected and appointed to do is an absolutely necessary first step toward revitalizing America and creating a culture of competence, accountability, and safety that will benefit us all.
The traditional American blood sport of creating division and discord for political and financial gain will certainly continue unabated, but the least we can hope for is to convince—or force, if necessary—our schools, leaders, and courts to put all of their energies into educating our children to a standard that prepares them for successful futures, managing our nation’s affairs while cutting government bloat, and protecting us from thugs who would cheerfully split our heads wide open in order to snatch the loose change rattling inside our pockets.
This would be a start toward making America great again, which is an idea that even the Trump haters should fervently and unreservedly support. A bright future for our country should be a wish that both Republicans and Democrats support equally, and recognizing this simple fact is essential if we are to reverse the decline of our nation.