Thursday, December 10, 2015

by Reed Galen

Days Until Iowa Caucus: 54

Quote by A Smart Person: "When men sow the wind it is rational to expect they will reap the whirlwind." Frederick Douglass

Welcome to the American Singularity.

The American Singularity - Week 38: Political Climate Change

During televised hearings into the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, noted physicist and author Dr. Richard Feynman brought the proceedings to a head by demonstrating his theory that the cold temperatures of that fateful January morning (30 years next month) had reduced the flexibility of rubber gaskets on the solid rocket boosters, allowing propellant to leak out, interact with the shuttle’s white hot exhaust, and ignite the remaining fuel.

Cold temperatures take hold of malleable material and reduce their flexibility, leaving them brittle. Not since the turmoil of the 1960s has a case of national hypothermia robbed Americans of our ability to cope, rebound, adapt and thrive. Every major issue is met with too many hot heads and too many cold souls. Rather than working together to find solutions to everyone’s benefit. Whether it is terrorism or immigration. Gun control or the environment, today's political landscape is too barren of solutions and too filled with vitriol.

To warm our collective core, the national hearth desperately needs fuel and stoking. We need to sit down together, before the roaring fire of America, warm our souls, shed our loneliness, separation and fear. On Sunday night, President Obama had the chance to start that process. And despite have the biggest of bully pulpits, he recited, almost by rote, his talking points, taking no responsibility, offering no reassurance, and using language he knew full-well would divide rather than unite. Not to be outdone, Donald Trump then proposed that Muslims be banned from immigrating to the United States. The furies, sensing their moment, went into action.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers a fireside chat radio broadcast during World War II.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers a fireside chat radio broadcast during World War II.

Without some major tack, the gales that blow make us susceptible to breaking completely. We have face headwinds, crosswinds, all but a much-needed tailwind. We are continually buffeted by a stream of bad news and tragedy. From Washington and many state capitols we get not leadership but additional angry and divisive winds further tearing at the fiber of our American identity.

The last 15 years have been a hurricane, tsunami, earthquake and polar vortex rolled into one. As the waters recede, we deal with the wreckage surrounding us. Some lost all their worldly possessions. Some lost their jobs. All of us lost the sense of confidence and assurance that has historically come with being American. Loss contributes to resentment and anger. We must not bow to these icy winds but stand up straight and lean into them.

To be sure, the political class and their lack of leadership have contributed greatly to this drop in temperature. Their angry gusts create a tornadic effect on us. We watch tragedies and crises unfold before our eyes but are told it’s all okay. We dive deeper into our own, comfortable electronic worlds and hope that the dust-storm outside our door will pass us by unscathed. We look to Washington for leadership and are left shivering in the cold, empty air they produce.

A tornado forming near York, Nebraska.

A tornado forming near York, Nebraska.

If the two major parties which serve as vehicles for our politicians cannot or will not break out of their static molds to lead America in the 21st century, why should we expect them to produce candidates with vision, leadership and direction? Without bold new thinking, we’re likely to be stuck with Henry Hudson; adrift in icy, freezing waters. Ideologues such as Donald Trump, still leading the GOP presidential field after all these months, thrive in an atmosphere of tension, discord and fractiousness.

Without our own internal propulsion, we’re too easily pushed to one extreme or another. Without a rudder we slide further away from center-line leaving us with nothing to do but hold on for dear life. If 2016 is indeed one of the most consequential elections of our time, we need the best our country has to offer as we begin the next American chapter. But have we grown too cold, brittle and bone-weary to put up the fight for what we deserve? Or have we decided that maybe it doesn’t really matter anyway? Let’s hope not. The greatest republic in the history of the world is worth fighting for; do we have enough of our unique spirit left for the battle?


AuthorReed Galen