One week before the election! Next Tuesday, you go to the polls and cast your vote, but ... alas, your guy loses. What are you going to do, leave the country?
I’ve heard some people say they will do just that, but it’s unlikely. It simply shows how passionate people have become over this election.
Of course, some say they won’t vote at all. They insist their vote won’t count because of our electoral system or because who ever wins, money and a power elite will remain in control of the nation and its economy.
Neither excessive passion nor rank cynicism is good for the country. Whoever wins will be our next president, and it behooves the nation to get behind him. The Republicans tried obstructionism four years ago. It didn’t work. Very little if anything got done. Congress became a bad joke, and the nation as a whole suffered.
If President Barack Obama wins and the Republican Party continues a policy of noncooperation, we all lose. If Mitt Romney wins and rewards the religious and political ideologues in his party by attacking abortion rights, Medicare, public broadcasting and other well-established public policies, he will spending more time and tax dollars defending his party than governing the nation.
Right now, I am sick of both parties. I’m tired of political ads, snarky bumper stickers, robo calls and talk-show hosts on amphetamines. All I want is for the election to be over, but unfortunately the real work is just beginning.
Neither candidate mentioned climate change during their debates, but as a threat to the future, climate change far outweighs the economy. Economic growth depends on how successfully we meeting the various environmental challenges radical and prolonged temperature change will dump on us. Drought, flood, crops failure, storm damage and other assaults on the nation’s infrastructure threaten us all.
This nation has been exceptional. With abundant national resources, room to expand and the energy wave after wave of immigrants brought to this country when they arrived, we have become rich and powerful. But America and other highly industrialized nations have backed themselves into a corner. Our very success has led to the problems we face today.
The American economy is highly efficient, but as industry becomes more and more efficient, it needs fewer and fewer people to produce the goods and services the public demands. An industry that can shed 15 percent of its employees and still retain the same level of output makes its top executives and stockholders rich. Meanwhile, it puts people out of work. This is one reason why the gap between rich and poor is growing.
Our doctors and hospitals are the best in the world, but as medical technology develops better drugs and better surgical procedures, people are living into their 80s and 90s. Medical costs can be brought down only so far. Eventually, the cost of keeping people alive and healthy will exceed our ability to finance the medical system that produces these miracles.
We live in a throwaway society. We extract resources from the ground to produce goods that wind up in the trash pile. Even when we make a valiant effort to recycle, we are fouling our nest.
All of the foregoing put us on a one-way street to implosion. Civil society as we practice it today is not sustainable. Any administration that does not publicly acknowledge this is wasting valuable time and energy.
No matter who wins the presidency next Tuesday, he can do nothing without the active support of the American public. Partisan politics must stop. We can’t afford it any longer. Any time a personal belief provides no practical solution, it must remain personal. No law can stop abortion or sex between those of the same gender. Get over it.
The same thing applies to the president. Love him or hate him. Keep it to yourself. Put the country first.
Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.