There are a lot of essays written about the state of things this year – but it mostly boils down to a very simple challenge – government is bought by big money. The rest is just symptoms and consequences. A divided and polarized country for example. It’s in large part just orchestrated or at least amplified for political purposes.
Because American politics is both divided and ineffective, it’s easy to assume that divisiveness is the problem, and being nicer and more cooperative would make government work again. Especially on occasions like the Fourth of July, the temptation is strong to hold hands and call, earnestly, for bipartisan comity. Can’t we all just get along?
No, we can’t—even though much of our partisan division is superficial. The more basic problem is denial. Like a dysfunctional family writ across a continent, we Americans have learned to look away from some of our hardest problems, such as inequality and climate change, and, when confronted with them, wring our hands and pretend there’s nothing we can do—even when we pretend to be making a fuss about them.
Part of the reason for the denial is that doing something meaningful about these problems would deepen our conflict. It would reveal a country divided by material interests, not just partisan rhetoric and style. It would raise the stakes of politics. This is risky, but the chance might open the door to a more hopeful politics.