The Crisis of the American Political System
The Framers of the United States Constitution were not perfect men by any stretch of the imagination. They designed a federal government that had some inherent flaws, but for the most part, this nearly genius system has withstood many difficult tests since it’s ratification in 1787. Whatever gaps and flaws (and there were many) that were present in the Constitution, the Framers believed the gatekeepers and those in elected office would always uphold the dignity and sanctity of this historic and all important document. They also believed that a well reasoned electorate would seek to amend the Constitution to remain responsive to the ever changing needs of the citizenry.
Fast forward to 2020 and you can almost imagine the Framers sitting in a room, staring at a wall full of televisions showing all the cable news channels, mouth agape at what they see happening to the country and document they painstakingly crafted.
American political discourse is at an all time low. Our three branches of government appear to have forgotten about their power to check and balance each other. Political discussions and disagreements produce violent results. Neighbors no longer see each other as an extension of their family, but instead view them as the enemy. We attack each other over differences, even though there is more that unites us than divides us.
We have a head of state that is increasingly becoming more and more authoritarian and enjoys stoking the flames of division and hate between Americans. A free society should not be led by someone that delights in causing fear and chaos among the people they swore to protect.
America has its issues and we were charged to continuously work to make it a more perfect union. To make it more personal, as a Black man who loves his country, I feel that it is my sacred duty to fight back against oppression, bigotry and hate. I also feel that I have the duty to make sure America is a place that children grow up in and forge bonds with one another regardless of identities and perceived allegiances.
The vitriol and poison that is breaking down our political culture is seeping into all aspects of our lives. The biggest reason for my concern is that I don’t think these issues will disappear when the Presidency changes hands. My biggest fear is that those seeking to run for office in the future will seek office for reasons that will harm people and benefit a few. We may find ourselves beating back hatred and harmful policies throughout every level of government. I fear this may be a fight that our children will have to pick up.
Every norm, every aspect of the American political system that I have grown to love and respect has been challenged or disregarded. The safeguards and protections that have been put in place to protect the most vulnerable among us are under attack. How do we fix this? How do we walk back from the edge of insanity and despair? The answer is simple, but incredibly difficult to accomplish.
We have to see the humanness in each other. We need to be able to see how imperfectly perfect we are and recognize that we will not always get things right. We also need to understand that life will go on for all of us and we will continue to inhabit the same patch of earth. Once we understand that although, our life stories are different, our journey’s still led us to living in America.
When we talk to each other, talk with the purpose of understanding and to build a bond. We may not agree with each other’s choices, but that doesn’t mean we have to hate each other. Lastly, we all have to agree on where to draw the line on what our country stands for and what is not allowed (white supremacists are never allowed). We need to rediscover our collective goal as a country.
I know that this type of reasoning can’t happen with everyone, but those people are not the majority. There are everyday, hardworking Americans who want to make sure they have a good paying job and a safe place to live with their family. These are the people that can save our democracy. If we continue to allow the loudest people in the room to dictate our politics and candidates, then our democracy will be doomed.
Things may seem dire in this moment, but I remain hopeful in our ability to work this out. The American people are the gatekeepers and saviors of our political system. I am hopeful that we will restore our democracy and emerge from the current madness, stronger than ever.