The Heat of Summer

pc7rKeqXisunThe political scene has heated up with Hillary attacking Trump and Trump attacking Hillary. The Supreme Court seems to be handing down one split decision after another in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death. Members of the House of Representatives are staging a sit-in to force a vote on gun control measures. As a country we seem to be as divided as ever even though the vast majority of us are stuck right in the middle. In the past I might have commented on all of these very important and pressing issues, presenting my ideas for solving them, but I have grown weary of the political battles and now all I want is for each question to be settled in the ballot box in November. I have every confidence in the citizenry. We will ultimately decide the outcome just as we have for more than two hundred years. What appears to be the most terrible time in our country is actually a situation that has repeated itself over and over again just as those our brilliant forefathers thought it might be.

Our Founding Fathers were rebelling against an authoritarian government led by a king who wielded absolute power. They wanted to be certain that no one person or single group would ever be able to force their beliefs on the nation and so they purposely set up a system that would almost insure gridlock from time to time. They believed that changes would be inevitable but that they should occur incrementally so that we never throw the baby out with the bath water so to speak. Right now their ingenious plan is working as it should but slow progress and infighting can be quite discomforting to some among us. I actually find the situation to be a sign that our government is working the way it was intended. I take comfort in the belief that at some point in the future we will work out compromises that will fix things but not create a revolution. It’s what we do in the United States of America and in spite of flaws along the way it continues to work. Some will be satisfied with the results and others will be angry but the point is that our votes are ultimately heard and then determine the course of our history.

I’ve noticed that we Americans tend to get hot headed in the summer months when the heat fries our brains and we just can’t take it anymore, whatever it may be. There are catalysts that spur us into action. We push our representatives to present our differing points of view. In the end one or the other side will win or if there is no clear consensus  it is a draw and nothing is done for the time being until we can rethink the options.

The biggest issues right now involve guns, abortion, sexual preferences and immigration. I actually think that with regard to each of the arguments both sides have valid points of view and both sides are erroneous in some ways. In other words there are good and bad ideas all the way around. If we were willing to consider the interests of both proponents of opposition we would come up with plans that might be deemed satisfactory to the largest number of citizens.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was masterful at creating cooperation among lawmakers from differing sides. Some historians believe that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 might never have passed without his political acumen. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both had great talents in those areas as well. Perhaps that is why we tend to see the eras of their governing as great times for our country. They knew how to bring the differing sides together and make everyone feel as though they had been heard. It’s difficult to imagine our current leaders or those now running for office having the ability to create majorities using members of both parties. We seem to be in the phase of “my way or the highway” politics. When we citizens have had enough we will vote for more moderate individuals who will agree to work together. Until then we’ll just have to sit back and watch the battles.

I have to laugh a bit because the men and women of Congress who are staging the sit-in and creating filibusters are being heralded by the media as great heroes and I tend to agree that that is so. Nonetheless, I seem to recall that when Ted Cruz convinced a cohort to do something similar he were accused of a being treasonous traitor. I guess it all depends on which side of the political fence one sits on but I believe that we need to be fair.

Insofar as most of the issues that arrive on Capitol Hill, I believe that everyone is a little bit right and a little bit wrong. Any thinking person has to admit that there are never quick and tidy fixes for anything. As an administrator I always found it wise to listen to the naysayers before producing school policy. They often saw problems that I had missed. Including them in the discussions and respecting their ideas generally led to buy-in from a greater number of people and a more positive state of morale. It is when managers not only ignore but also demonize their opponents that a kind of civil war ensues.

We have too many people right now craving power, legacies, history-making status. We seem to want what we want when we want it. The world generally has never worked that way. We have to think things through. I see the Middle East as a great example of what happens when a group of people overthrow the power structure without thinking of what to put in its place. Chaos reigns and nobody is happy.

It’s doubtful that we are going to witness a change in the political environment anytime soon. I’ll be patiently waiting for that to happen as I am sure that it will. We have some great men and women on both sides of the aisle and it is only when the majority of us are able to understand that compromise is the answer to our problems that we will once again enter a more serene phase of history. We humans can only take so much excitement before we demand peace.

In the meantime, I’m going to visit the holy grail of Texas politicians today, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library. He was a President who was loved and loathed but he sure managed to accomplish much of his agenda. I suspect that had he not been saddled with the War in Vietnam he might have gone down in history as one of the greatest of our presidents. Sadly he chose the wrong pathway in handling that conflict which no doubt would have been the fate of anyone tasked with that onerous duty.

It’s going to be a hot summer for sure and the heat will continue all the way into November. God only knows what the outcome will be but each of us should remember that we do indeed have a voice. It might also behoove us to begin the process of healing wounds by respecting the fact that every man and woman has a valid right to his or her opinion. That is the greatness of this country and we need to be certain that we never let it go away. No one should ever be silenced. The most dangerous situation that we might encounter is a government in which we must all agree all of the time and where those in power punish those who dissent. We may want serenity now but we should place more value on rational discussions and efforts to compromise. That is the way our founders intended our government to be.


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