Millions of Americans are recovering from a terrible natural disaster, and we are in the process of weathering yet another nasty and divisive man-made political disaster that is becoming, sadly, the new norm for our American political system.
The similarities and differences of these disasters are worth a few moments of consideration:
1. Our natural disasters often bring us together as Americans with countless acts of selflessness and heroics — from first responders to average citizens. Our man-made political disasters divide us as Americans, and highlight our fellow citizens who value self-interest and greed — from extreme partisans to media shock jocks to well-paid consultants and surrogates.
2. Our natural disasters are governed by atmospheric dynamics in various regions of the globe. Our man-made political disasters are governed by two enormously well-funded private organizations that have created an almost impenetrable duopoly.
3. Our natural disasters often create significant physical damage and even loss of life; but ultimately (except for the loss of life) they lead to recovery, reconstruction and renewal. Our man-made political disasters lead to significant and lasting incremental damage to our national unity, morale, trust and even civility.
4. Our natural disasters motivate our media to provide, for the most part, important and objective public service — through announcements, information and warnings. Our man-made political disasters are utilized by the media as a cash cow that generates billions with clock-like regularity through advertisements, commercials and staged partisan debates that attract millions of eyeballs.
5. Lastly, but most importantly, the critical difference between the natural and man-made political disasters is that we are limited to preparatory and reactive responses to the first, while the latter provides us ample opportunities to change and even avoid its terrible consequences.
There is absolutely no law of nature that requires our democracy to continually go through the trauma and destructive effects of a process that so predictably weakens our democracy and national sense of unity.
Our nation and our democracy are in jeopardy. We know the causes of these man-made disasters. Now, we must begin to envision solutions — and act upon them.
Chair, American Party of South Carolina