Lost in this weekend's shuffle of inauguration and protest is the question of, going forward, what is the right thing to do.
As a nation-state, we have come to interpret the "right things" as something which benefits some portion of us, not all of us. The closing of coal plants is celebrated as an environmental triumph; the workers put out of work and businesses that supported them are ignored or perhaps thought as acceptable casualties; health care for those that did not have it is a triumph while those whose bills climb extraordinarily are overlooked or thought not to exist. We want "free choice" in so many things, but cannot extend the concept to something as simple as raw milk. In other words, although lots of people would pretend otherwise, we have come to view policy as a zero-sum game with winners and losers - and the winners are also sub-groups, not Americans as a whole.
Is it a wonder we are so divided? I suspect that if you asked people as whole they would have little agreement or indeed little idea about what would be good for all Americans.
I have yet to see a sustained movement in politics that actually implements the philosophy that everyone like to espouse, that things are not a zero-sum game but rather a pie and we all succeed by making the pie bigger, not dividing the pie we have. It strikes me as odd that so many like to proclaim this as their belief in the future of the world but few actually try to make it a political reality.
What if we spent our efforts both on protecting the environment and finding technologically better ways to use what we currently have, thus securing employment for some and supporting the businesses they support? What if we found ways to actually cover people while not forcing others to pay or buy things they have no wish to purchase (whatever happened to the right of individual to decide to buy?)? What if we found better ways to promote food safety and natural food and allowed those that wish to do something such as drink raw milk to do so? What if we measured how America was doing by how Americans citizens were doing instead of how our favorite sub-group of American citizens were doing?
This has been a difficult article to write and I have had to go back and delete or rewrite portions at least three times, because of the tendency I have to want to politicize or personalize things myself instead of drawing attention to the root question. There is plenty of that circulating around at the moment and of itself will solve nothing but only make the issues less resolvable.
Is it possible that we can strip away our differences, humble ourselves, and start asking what is as good for "the other side" as it is for ourselves? Or are we too far gone in our thinking that while we proclaim "larger pie" we act as quickly as we can to empty out the pie-plate ourselves?
In the first version, we have a state and possibly a nation. In the second, we have neither a nation nor state, only the long dark road to inevitable national and state suicide.