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Jerry Shenk


America's Political Dysfunction

by Jerry Shenk
 

An unhealthy gap separates the American people and the nation's governing elite.

Anti-intuitively, on some important issues, Bernie Sanders supporters have more in common with grassroots conservatives than they do with elected Democrats: Establishment politicians in both parties have committed young Americans to wars lacking clear objectives, accumulated a massive national debt, overtaxed, over-regulated and forced the middle class to bail out unions, wealthy brokers and bankers from the consequences of their own and government's lousy judgment.

Both parties are dominated by big-government statists who engage in identity politics.

Confident that their sentiments are consistent with the rule of law, a majority of Americans want America to control its borders, document visitors and enforce our immigration laws as written. They resent the Republican and Democratic progressive establishments' characterization of their views as "racist" or "xenophobic."

Huge numbers of Americans oppose the programs on which the president has staked his legacy: Amnesty for illegals, Obamacare, subsidies for noncompetitive alt-energy sources and the Iran nuclear giveaway.

Both parties are disdainful of normal Americans. In 2010, 2012, and 2014, Republican congressional candidates promised to repeal Obamacare, cut spending, reduce the national debt and limit government. Today, voters who gave the GOP congressional majorities recognize the Republicans' rhetoric as cynically misleading, even dishonest.

Political dysfunction is further exacerbated by the smug certainty of the political left, which includes too many GOP officeholders. Novelist, screenwriter and commentator Roger L. Simon has advanced a theory about the dysfunction in American politics, arguing that an excess of moral narcissism damages America's capacity for self-government by dividing the races, the left and right, the government and the governed.

Symptoms of the progressive establishment's moral narcissism include intellectual rigidity, self-righteous sanctimony and scorn for those who disagree. In addition to most cultural issues, moral narcissism is evident in the debate over climate change. Despite proven imprecision in measurement and mounting uncertainty about climate change's causes, the left tolerates no dissent over the reasons for or acceptable responses to it.

Moral narcissism is also visible in the left's insistence upon detecting racism and sexism everywhere, assuring us against all evidence that, even when racism and sexism aren't apparent, they remain present in the deepest recesses of every white man's subconscious and embedded in our political institutions.

Such moral condescension only widens the racial, cultural and political divides.

Many Americans are less annoyed by political correctness itself than by its practitioners' relentless contempt for and superiority toward everyone else. Defining themselves as "right-minded" and "on the right side of history," the narcissistic left and big-government elites unfairly attempt to silence opposition and control the political process by arbitrarily assigning vague, otherwise-undeserved moral guilt.

Sensing that government no longer represents them, angry Americans want self-government restored.

The dissonant left/right, government/governed views of America, American jurisprudence and governance won't change until elected elites pay attention, legitimize disagreement, reestablish the democratic debate on which constitutional self-government relies — or are turned out of office in favor of public servants who will.



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