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Is America Broken ?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

Our system is completely broken down. There is absolute, one hundred percent mistrust of government. Every branch, every government agency, every politician, not a one of them has the trust of the people they serve. Americans simply do not trust anything, or anyone anymore that emanates from Washington, D.C. Even worse, Americans don’t trust each other. And that’s the truly scary part.


What maintains us as a nation has always been our ability to come together in difficult times and put our faith in each other and our leaders, both elected and government officials, to do the right thing to protect us and our national interests.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor we heeded the call and Americans in droves headed to military recruiting stations. Women left the home and went to work in factories building the weapons of war we needed to defeat the Axis armies of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Again after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Americans once again set aside our differences and many joined the military out of a sense of patriotism. We were United once again, if only briefly.

That covenant we shared with those we place in political office seems to have been irretrievably broken, and any trust that we once had may never be recovered. Over the years we have been lied to, deceived, and insulted by those elected to serve in public office. The ones we voted for who are supposed to work for us.

Our elected officials really no longer serve at the pleasure of the voters. Nor do they seem to care much about how we feel about important issues facing our nation. So much money has become a part of our politics that good, decent, conscientious Americans, people who are willing to serve a constituency are up against political machines that guarantee an unfair advantage for the incumbent in every election. It’s truly become a ‘David versus Goliath’ proposition.


Big money and deep pockets win elections. Our politicians are beholden to the corporations and special interest groups who ply them with campaign donations so that the politicians will support whatever their benefactors want.

Regardless of whether it’s really beneficial to the nation, or even supported by the vast majority of Americans. Mom and Pop’s twenty dollar donation to a candidate they believe in only gets them more phone calls and e-mails asking for more donations, and not much else. Good money thrown after bad.

Just the other day eighteen Republicans joined with the Democrats to pass an Omnibus Spending Bill to the tune of one point seven trillion dollars. Certainly funding needs to be provided so that our government is able to continue to provide the services we as a nation rely upon. Our national defense is important, and costly. Considering the dangerous world we live in we have no choice but to invest in our national security.

I’m old enough to remember when our federal budget was measured in the tens of billions, not in the trillions. Something definitely seems to be out of whack. How have we gone from billions to trillions and find ourselves mired in debt, while collectively still very unhappy with what we get for our hard earned tax dollars?


The short answer is that we’ve lost control. We the people have lost control. We have gotten to the point that we simply accept what the politicians do. We feel helpless, unable to assert any influence on what happens to us. And we’re right. After all, why should politicians be concerned about what we want, we don’t hold their feet to the fire. If they have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to their name, we vote accordingly. Regardless of what they’ve done while in office.

There was a time in America when people of differing viewpoints could sit together in a coffee shop and have a conversation. Often involving good-natured ribbing. We didn’t get our feelings hurt, and we were able to enjoy each other’s company even though one person might be a ‘R’ and the other one a ‘D’. We were just people. We were Americans.

Every afternoon I take a walk with Rachel, who is over thirty-five years my junior. We don’t agree on everything, in fact we have opposite viewpoints on a number of contentious issues. But we’re able to walk and chat without screaming at each other or coming to blows. We both understand that we’re not going to agree on everything, but regardless of our differences we still find some common ground. More than that, we enjoy the opportunity to engage.


That’s something that’s lost in America, the ability to agree to disagree, and to do it in an agreeable manner. And it’s not OUR fault. The career politicians and the news media have created the divide that we face nowadays. They want us at each-others’ throats, fighting and arguing. It keeps us from focusing our ire on them.

There’s only one thing that’s going to right this ‘ship of state’. We as a people have to start listening less to the politicians and news media, and start listening more to each other. If we don’t, then this country truly is broken beyond repair.

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