Alan Zendell, June 20, 2018
The greatest threat to America is not North Korea. It’s not Iran. It’s not radical Islamist terrorism. It’s not gun violence, the millions of people who can’t afford healthcare, or Social Security potentially going bankrupt. It’s us.
An inflection point is a moment in time that signals when positive trends turn negative or vice versa. 2016 was such a point for our nation. We all knew our corrupt government was trapped in the polarized swamp of gridlock, and there was no quick fix for the divisiveness that was threatening to unravel decades of progress at leveling the playing field for all Americans.
We know from science that order can be maintained only with constant vigilance because the universe abhors stability. Indifference and indolence are seductively benign, but no less deadly for not being overtly menacing. 2016 was a moment in time when resolve and determination might have headed off entering the slippery slope we’ve been on since then, but despite the fact that many of us saw where we were heading, we just stared in fascination like watching a train go off the rails in slow motion.
2016 showed once again that our obsolete electoral college system is a clear and present danger to the republic. Changing it will be a long, laborious process, but its evil cousin, gerrymandering, ought to be fixable. When the Supreme Court unanimously chose to duck the issue earlier this week, it was another victory for the forces of chaos. The diverse court of nine justices decided without dissent, that gerrymandering wasn’t their problem, and that the parties involved ought to be able to work it out themselves.
Gerrymandering is one of the greatest threats to our democracy. But it’s clear that unless they are forced to change their ways, politicians will continue to use voting majorities to exacerbate divisiveness and partisanship, violating the principle that every citizen has a right to equal representation. One of the cases on which the Supreme Court punted was a Wisconsin voting map that a lower court had already ruled unconstitutional. Because of the way the people in power drew district boundaries, the party that received 61% of the vote in a statewide election won only 49% of the legislative seats.
When children fight, things only get resolved when the adult in the room steps in. With respect to gerrymandering, the adult in the room is the Court. It would be nice if partisan politicians could work out their differences, but counting on that only makes the slope more slippery.
Yesterday may have been an inflection point in our history in more ways than one. When President Trump was asked why he speaks so admiringly of Kim Jong Un, he talked about what a strong leader the North Korean dictator is. When Kim gives an order, there’s no argument, no disagreement. “That’s what I want,” Trump concluded. That’s quite an admission for someone who has sworn to uphold our Constitution.
It’s not exactly a revelation that Trump craves absolute power and cannot tolerate any form of dissent. When other people or other countries won’t play by Trump’s rules he picks up his marbles and goes home. He walked away from the Trans-pacific trade agreement and the Paris accords on climate change, and appears to be doing the same thing with NAFTA. He insults our allies and ignores our partners in Canada, NATO, and the EU. When he doesn’t get what he wants he stamps his foot like a five-year-old and throws a Twitter tantrum.
He treats the other two branches of our Government the same way. His zero tolerance policy on immigration has resulted in the spectacle of thousands of children being separated from their parents at our borders. Yet he blames Democrats for the problem. Using the twisted logic of a would-be dictator, the Democrats are to blame, because they won’t roll over and rubber stamp Trump’s demands on immigration.
Trump’s executive orders are using immigrant and refugee children as hostages to get the immigration changes he wants. It’s now clear why, despite the insults and attacks Trump has leveled at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he hasn’t fired him. Trump knew when he appointed Sessions that there was no one more rabid in his anti-immigration sentiments.
Remember when the media were filled with recriminations over ISIS using innocent women and children as human shields? What Trump and Sessions are doing is different only in that there are no bullets and bombs tearing those children apart. When we ask ourselves what poses the greatest threats to our nation, the erosion of values that we see symbolized as we march children into detention centers must surely rank at the top of the list.
When I look back at yesterday I see us at a tipping point. We can still change things, but if we sit idly and watch the way we did in 2016, we may regret our inaction for decades.