When I came to Georgia in 1955, it was a one-party state. The Democrats were the only game in town. After 1964, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Right Act, he told Bill Moyers he’d just delivered the South to the Republicans for the next 50 years. He was right.
Any biologist will tell you a monoculture is not a good thing. It leads to the spread of pests and disease. It depletes the soil and weakens land. This is just as true for politics as it is for agriculture.
It is natural to think that if everyone held the same political or religious beliefs there would be no strife, but it doesn’t work that way. Even the closest social unit, a family or religious order, exhibits favoritism and inequity. There will always be differences of opinion, and people will always vie for position and power.
To a certain extent, this is healthy. What we don’t want, and what we appear to have now, is a nation divided against itself. Abraham Lincoln warned us about this in 1858. The Bible said it first in Mark 3:25.
But today the country is divided against itself: liberal vs conservative, rich vs poor, religion vs secularism, Republican vs Democrat. Of all these divisions the latter is the most illusionary. By that, I mean the division is more perception than an actual difference in goals, methods and morality.
Basically Americans want the same things from their government: physical and economic security, justice under the law and freedom of conscience. They want a government that serves the people, but our present government does not serve the people. It serves wealthy special interests. Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission have assured it.
The two-party system isn’t working. Back in September, The Times published an article by two professors of social psychology, David Sherman of UC Santa Barbara and Leaf Van Boven of the University of Colorado-Boulder. These two gentlemen believe the GOP and the Dems are not all that different from one another. Both operate in very much the same way, but the differences that do exist are exaggerated for political reasons. It’s a way to appear to various blocks of voters. It helps define the party, and it gets media coverage.
What it does not do is carefully examine policies and evidence in their own right. It does not lead to compromise, and it does not move the nation forward. Nothing much gets done.
The XL Pipeline is supported by the Republican Party and opposed by President Barack Obama, who has promised to veto it when it comes to him from Congress. But whatever happens, it won’t benefit the American public. The same could be said about the new nuclear reactors being build at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro.
This is unfortunate, and I hope I’m wrong, but there’s too much momentum. Too much money has already been spent, and too many careers are on the line to stop either project. Too many higher-ups in government and the financial world are heavily invested in seeing them to completion. The truly sad part of all this is they are not investing their own money. It’s public money, and the public doesn’t seem to care.
However, the energy picture is changing, and both fossil fuel and nuclear power are old technologies. They are on the way out. There are better and safer ways to produce electricity, but change takes time.
It’s been 25 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the cleanup is still going on. It’s been more than 60 years since the first nuclear reactors came on line, and the nuclear industry still hasn’t solved the radioactive waste issue.
So far neither political party as looked past vested interests and addressed these pressing environmental problems. And they won’t until the public speaks with one voice.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Joan King lives in Sautee.