A Chinese curse goes as follows: May you live in interesting times! We are in one of these. There have been massive shifts in alliances that have existed for over fifty years since the end of the last World WAR. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends as the political economic horizon has changed. Here in the USA tensions run high over what it means to be American and immigration policies, gender and social roles, class distinctions etc. in a world of the “hired gun” employee with none of the former protections of retirement plans, good medical care or even discourse between boss and employee.
It seems to me that beyond all of these fractious matters, one additional source of anxiety and dis-ease is the unspoken concerns of all Americans as to what will be the potential outcome of the current investigation into Russian influence in our election and the possibility of an obstruction of justice charge. This might well include such charges being leveled at the President of the United States. Once before in our recent history, we faced such a major test of our democracy. This time the stakes seem higher as Trump seems to indicate he is not under any obligation to obey the rule of law. I am not commenting on the true or falsity of any accusations, nor am I in a position to comment on such matters as presidential pardons etc. I am commenting on a possibility of a full-blown constitutional crisis which could change our “democracy” forever. What is disturbing, additionally is that many of our citizens have, in effect, given up on the rule of law already. The ongoing and seemingly never ending abuse of power, influence peddling, district gerrymandering, corruption, bribery has made many political figures seem like cleverer versions of Al Capone. Voting participation has fallen off precipitously and many people feel their voices are unheard and disregarded. Will this probable upcoming crisis be the official end of representative democracy?
I can only hope that elected officials have a real understanding of how close we are to the edge and that something is done to restore a willingness to entertain the very divergent opinions Americans have about all matters. We need gentle debate and compromise. We need to stop hurling epithets of racism, sexism, homophobia and political incorrectness at each other. We need to care about the greatest and freest nation in the history of the world so that we, the people ensure its survival. It is possible to find compromises to immigration, freedom of speech, sexual conduct, the limits of humor, the rule of law but as the Chinese saying goes: We live in interesting times and I think it is taking a real toll on the national psyche and our perennial Ameri- CAN optimism.