The sum­mer of dis­con­tent

Dis­tressed and an­gry, vot­ers are yearn­ing for an­other ‘morn­ing in Amer­ica’

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

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.

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