The summer of discontent
Distressed and angry, voters are yearning for another ‘morning in America’
The steamy days of August are cooking up a summer of discontent. Like much of what lies beyond the front door, the reasons for the national angst are complicated and often contradictory. Raucous noise from the nation’s capital plays a big role in how Americans see the landscape, but waiting for a wind to freshen the air above the Washington swamp might be a long wait.
A recent Rasmussen poll finds that just 23 percent of likely voters think the federal government governs with the consent of the governed. Nearly 6 of 10 voters say Washington has gone rogue and pays no heed to the will of the electorate. Confusion is the portion of 2 of 10, who say they don’t know what to think.
Democrats say Donald Trump is the malevolent cause of their ire. Republicans say he’s the serendipitous agent of their relief and satisfaction. The “resistance” against the president may be mostly a case of payback. Democrats have been out to target a Republican president ever since the impeachment of Bill Clinton. In any case, disagreements over how the people should be governed grow deeper than the Grand Canyon.
In such a troubled atmosphere, no wonder that Americans generally favor a smaller, less invasive government. Rasmussen finds that 57 percent say they prefer a scaled-down system with lower taxes than a government bureaucracy getting ever more bloated.
When the moment comes to apply the knife to the fat, voters are reluctant to apply the cuts to specific government programs. Despite the long-running drama over how to replace and repair the failing health care system, 52 percent want to preserve Obamacare until a consensus emerges on how to build a better health-care system. A smaller number, 41 percent, want Congress to repeal Obamacare and start over. The rest just don’t know.
More disturbing is the belief that America’s best days are behind us. While 36 percent tell Rasmussen’s pollsters that the best is yet to come, 52 percent say the nation has passed its peak. That’s the golden age of America receding in the rear view mirror.
There’s no enforced obligation to wave the flag, and pray God there never will be. There is, however, a moral obligation to think twice before destroying the things the banner stands for. Above the din of noisy argument over Obamacare, tax reform and Russian election-year mischief, genuine love of country outweighs angry declarations like “Not my president!” Efforts to “fundamentally transform” the nation, as Barack Obama tried to do, betray a vein of disdain for the heritage of America, the imperfect nation that leads the world steadily toward a more just society.
When Republicans dug in their heels against Barack Obama’s transformation agenda, they tried to preserve the balance between liberty and responsibility. That’s what enabled the birth of the exceptional nation. The resistance to every act large and small undertaken by President Trump will lead, if unchecked, to a new and unrecognizable America.
Discontent is a natural companion to hope in the human condition. As the passions of summer 2017 roil the days and disturb the nights remaining, the disaffected can remake the nation in the mold of the 200 other nations across the globe, or they can put their restlessness to better use by honoring the unique promise of the America built by those who lived before us.