We have reached the stage in our civilization where all the easy governing has come and gone. Today, as a mature civilization in a world of mind-boggling complexity, the issues are very daunting, the solutions neither clearcut nor painless, and passions on both sides of every one of them running at fever pitch.
Compromise historically has been at the heart of all good politics. We hear constant cries for bipartisanship. Bipartisanship in the abstract is undeniably desirable. Everyone says they want their members of Congress to practice it. But it amounts to just a lofty notion in a nation so balkanized. Because when you ask the next question, "Are you willing to compromise your position?" the answer often is not just "no," but "hell no."
We are a nation of Hatfields and McCoys when it comes to the difficult social and moral issues of our time. Bipartisan cooperation and solutions are very elusive. Credible research bears this out.
A recent Rasmussen poll found that just 25 percent of U.S. voters believe the country is headed in the right direction, the lowest level of confidence since early January 2009. A corresponding national telephone survey also by Rasmussen found 69 percent believe the nation is "heading down the wrong track," the highest number measured in 14 months.
As the noted political scholar Pogo once opined, "We have met the enemy and he is us." If we are unhappy with our government, we have a peaceful, Constitutional means of redirecting things every two, four and six years. Yet fewer than half of us vote. Let's all do our part next time to make sure more among us don't just sound off, but show up at the polls to do something constructive about our sentiments.
Barry McCahill is communications consultant for the National Association for Pupil Transportation.