[This is the transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 1 July 2015.]
Today the country is under terror alert, and the FBI is setting up counter-terrorism control centers across the land as the rest of us prepare to celebrate America’s 239th birthday this weekend. We know the world is broken, and when we contemplate the state of our Union, it is clear that we also have a lot of mending to do. Many recognized students of the American scene tell us that today “Political polarization is at unprecedented levels, with large portions of the electorate convinced that the other side is not only mistaken in its political views, but evil.”
Here in Nevada County radicals have threatened to disrupt the annual 4th of July parade when the local Tea Party unit marches by after having been told, “If you continue to support this anti-constitutional, anti-Christian ideology, start packing or pay the consequences of the outing of the cruel inhuman people your T Party represents.” Local law enforcement is taking this seriously.
But in spite of the worldwide killings by Islamic radicals, and the political turmoil that grows inside our borders, we can still reconcile if we remember how we once were as reported by our 19th century visitors. We were seen and saw ourselves as a unique people who were open, neighborly, generous, egalitarian, feisty, and prideful with over the top patriotism. We had a passion to get ahead and see what’s over the next hill. And all those qualities were wrapped up with an undeniable individualism; we knew what made me only me, and no one else.
Because of that we were not of one mold. Our Founders knew that and gave us an America that was not meant to be the same America for everyone; our land was intended to accommodate diversity. Artist, writer, and professor of computer science David Gelernter said, “The founders designed a vast garment for America that hugs where it should hug and stretches where it should stretch; each state creates its own society, and the Constitution stitches them all together into a comfortable, sensible union suit.”
However such an America has not been our recent direction. Long ago we were warned by de Tocqueville that when government “covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform” such that it “compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people”, then we have arrived at the doorstep of tyranny.
Sociologist and political philosopher Charles Murray believes we can begin finding common ground by joining to oppose those patently ridiculous rules and laws which stupefy and compress us all into a bi-partisan misery. Is it not ridiculous that any American lacks the means to live a decent life? Is it not ridiculous that our towns and cities can no longer afford to provide basic services? In a nation as diverse as America, is it not ridiculous to impose one-size-fits-all national policies that involve morally complex cultural differences? Without giving up our core beliefs, we can all work together to eliminate such ridiculous conditions in our land – and that joint effort can serve as a start for more things to mend America that will bring us back together.
We should think about these things as we make plans for this weekend. And may I suggest that we all experience such togetherness this coming Saturday evening, 3rd of July, on the Great Lawn of the Nevada County Fairgrounds at the ‘Happy Birthday USA’ festivities. This celebration is brought to you by our own Music in the Mountains. Get your tickets online and bring your camping chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets full of good things to join your neighbors as you listen to great American music and songs performed on stage by Nevada County’s own world class symphony orchestra and chorus. It will be good to experience America again.
My name is Rebane, and I also expand on this and related themes on georgerebane.com where the transcript of this commentary is posted with relevant links, and where such issues are debated extensively. However my views are not necessarily shared by KVMR. Thank you for listening.