I do love it when I am labeled a liberal or a socialist, it provides those who call me such names an air of superiority. They are patriots and I am under the vice of Lenin or Stalin. Ignorance is bliss and I suggest picking up a book before issuing such declarations, but my call for knowledge will be in vain. I spend probably too much time reading social media, but one thing I have been reluctant to do is chime in when political topics get hot. They are hot these days and the question becomes how hot it too hot? There have been many times in history where things just begin to run away and people get swept up in the moment and forget their past and their future. The French Revolution was an example of how dangerous things can become, with the Reign of Terror and the extensive use of the guillotine. The Spanish Civil War when the left and right became split leading to a holocaust of half a million people – not due to race of religion but simply because of perceived political views. The Nazi’s call for aerion purity. It seems as if we are trending down this path again. As Mark Twain said, “History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes”.
The words of Lincoln seem somehow prophetic these days, uttered during his legendary debates with Stephen Douglas as they vied for the senate seat in Illinois. The nation was torn on the subject of slavery and Lincoln stated, “A house Divided cannot Stand”. In the US political parties are more interested in becoming unified on their opposition to what the other party is proposing, rather than solving issues for American people in need. Do we need social programs or tax cuts, whatever the easiest path is selected and always by the party that holds the majority in the House, the Senate and the Oval Office. Then once roles are reversed the Majority party tries to undo what the other party did. In the end we move sideways and not forward. As a nation we tend to think in the short term and for our our own self interests. In our eagerness for self worth we fail to see what is happening around us until it stares at us in the face. The idea of the greater good has seemed to lose all meaning in our desire to protect our individual rights, however flawed that may be.
The question becomes how long can we remain in this current mindset before things begin to run away from us? They almost did on January 6th. Like it or not there were people who stormed the capitol building with the intent to kill, who in the name of violence called themselves patriots. They would have benefitted if they had a plan but instead behaved like a mob with a mob mindset. It did, however highlight a undercurrent taking place in America, something hidden to many. The insurrection never had a chance of success. There revolutionary zeal lacked leadership and its prospective leader had taken a limo home, Imagine if George Washington had crossed the Delaware in a luxury yacht. Great leaders seldom, if ever, come from the lap of luxury, Can another January 6th occur? It certainly could and if it did it would be larger, but I have yet to hear of anything imagining a brighter future or having a vision of a future America. It it does happen it will just be another globally embarrassing event, just with more blood shed.
Like a leaking water faucet we listen to the torturous slow drip of the American belief system slowly run down the drain, a drain rusted by neglect. Now it seems there are these “secessionist” movements. Not from the country, but a desire to secede from a state and create a new more American state or join a neighboring state more in line with local residents values, Whatever the reason it is not very well disguised, it is simply a power play. A desire to repress those in which they do not agree with. It is also very shortsighted in its thought process. The long term prognosis would be the disbanding of the American political system (which means the Constitution would be dead). The debate about the founding fathers, would reach a fever pitch, with the only truth being that the founding fathers are very disappointed in their legacy as they had higher aspirations.
Division sews mistrust. Not just mistrust in their government institutions but mistrust in their fellow citizens and private institutions. I find it funny and yet horrifying that the US there are those on the far right who view American universities with contempt. Yet it was those same institutions, when I went to school, who spread the ideas of Laissez-Faire and the beauty of free markets and less government. Now many of these schools are being asked to focus on STEM and preparing the US economy for the rest of this century and beyond. Our university systems is the best on the planet and the envy of the world. Thousands of students come each year to take advantage of the great education we provide. We teach not only skills but to try and expand each students thought process. As Albert Einstein said, “The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think”.
The current fracture in the US democracy but they are just cracks and can be repaired, but left unchecked they will grow. As these fissures in our society grow they will increasing turn to the lesser of human emotions, hate, anger, loathing etc..these emotions make us less of a people, less of a nation. Our ability to succeed will become clouded and slowly slither its way through our fingers, never to be seen again. The mutterrings of civil unrest remain, The hope is they die down, the fear being that they grow louder. We have arrived hear not overnight, but through a long journey. Are we divided? There is no question. Can we stand? If the current drip continues for another decade things will only have gotten worse and the leaks will begin to run and as they flow the water will gain strength, until the nation starts to crumble, Can we stand?
Good Night and Good Luck
Hans Henrik Hoffmann
May 24th, 2021