Friday, July 5, 2013

Would Our Founding Fathers Approve of US?

A recent article on CNN briefly outlined a Gallup poll asked people if they think the Founding Fathers would or would not view the current U.S. in a favorable light.  Basically, the poll, or rather its analyses, suggests that political affiliation has an effect on responses. Since a Democrat is in the White House, it seems Republicans think that the Founding Fathers would disapprove of our current situation.  It's not hard to imagine the responses of democrats if a republican were in the White House.

But would the Founding Fathers disapprove based on political party affiliation?  While there were some heated animosity between political parties in the late 1700s, I doubt the Founding Fathers would judge the country based on which party seated the president. One of the greatest aspects of the founding of this country was the ability for its founders to disagree in a "proper" way.

To illustrate what I mean, let's look at today's political scene. Who would argue that it is not a mess?  There is so much animosity, enmity and polarization that any effort of progress, learning, discovery and innovation is thwarted just as it begins. Today's politicians, and the American public at large, do not know how to disagree in a way that enables discussion, progress and problem solving that the Founding Fathers held as a foundation to Democracy and enlightenment.

Back then, people gathered to discuss topics large and small.  Perhaps that shared a pint of beer in the process.  If they could not gather in person, handwritten letters were sent, which sometimes took months to complete a correspondence.  As such, it was important to choose words deliberately to make a point, question or observation crystal clear to the reader. Thought was put into every sentence spoken and written, as well as heard or read.

And I think this is the main reason why our country's founders would vehemently disapprove of their country today. Mindless bickering, baseless accusations, and the sheer inability and refusal of some people to honestly listen to others. The zero-sum attitude of modern politicians and many voters is not healthy for any society, especially not for one as diverse as the modern United States of America.  We need to get back to face-to-face discussion, to listen intently to others--not to pick apart a statement, but to learn, entertain open dialogue, to add thought to instant communication, and to realize that diversity means that nobody will get all they want.  

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