Current idiocies

To the Editor:

Wherever people slot themselves on the political spectrum, our last election made it patently clear that the country harbors a good deal of political discord.

The discord is to the point that, at least at the national level, we cannot even agree on what our problems may be, much less on how to define them. The assumption that everyone who voted for Trump is automatically a bigot, or a sexist or stupid is just as misguided as the assumption that everyone who voted for Clinton automatically accepts racial diversity, the LBGT agenda, hugs trees and is anti-male.

When will we learn that ideology does not solve problems – concerned people do.

The last election did seem to reveal widespread cohesion around the idea that our political processes are corrupt and that financial incentives from the very wealthy and from corporations (including the major banks and Wall Street) and corporate influence have become burdensome.

Cries rang out to “drain the swamp.” The swamp, though, has only expanded as our Congress – itself, one of the most privileged and exclusive country clubs in the world – seems to have agendas dictated primarily by those aforementioned major corporations and by the extraordinarily wealthy.

Indeed, Washington seems dedicated to restoring, often via presidential executive order, the very rules that caused the economy to crash in 2008. How smart is that? Perhaps very smart for the select few – for the rest of us, not so much.

Regrettably, our country has long conflated democracy with capitalism. But it is out-of-control capitalism that is winning. The Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision has cemented that mistake, and it is increasingly clear that the United States – and its Democracy – is, for all intents and purposes, up for sale.

One small proof of that is our new secretary of education, whose family wealth bought her appointment. Other proofs are past efforts to privatize our national parks, and the proposed dismantling of Dodd-Frank financial regulations.

Who is responsible for where we now find ourselves? Deceased cartoonist Walt Kelly’s Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

We are the ones who have long accepted misstatements and outright deceit from our politicians rather than calling them out. We are the ones who have long accepted deception, partial truths and even outright lies from major corporations and from their advertisers.

Why do we overlook potential breeches of ethical behavior? Why do we overlook possible financial malfeasance and conflicts of interest? Is it because we have become inured to it? Is it because we have become lazy? Is it because we simply no longer care? Is it because we have become so arrogant that we believe that our democracy can survive anything? Is it because we have become cynical?

We, as Americans, seem to prefer to be willfully ignorant. We seem to be unable to look at our flaws. We seem to be unwilling to be honest with ourselves about our country’s past (much of which is remarkable, though certainly far from unblemished) or about its present. Yet, without that honesty, how can America and its diminishing democracy persevere in the face of our current idiocies?

Lewis Redding

Bar Harbor

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