On Wednesday, we celebrate our nation’s founding. So how will Lady Liberty be feeling as she watches the fireworks over New York Harbor on America’s 242nd birthday?
We’ve recently witnessed the best and the worst. Utah citizens went peacefully to the polls last Tuesday to end a spirited, but civil, primary election. But at the national level, political discourse has sunk into the gutter, with harsh rhetoric, political harassment and threats, and rampant incivility. These are weighty matters for political hacks like us to explore.
What is the state of America — and her psyche — as we celebrate the July 4 holiday? Are these the best of times, or the worst of times? Are we making progress or regressing?
Pignanelli: “I do not look upon these United States as a finished product. We are still in the making.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
The newest fitness trend is high intensity interval training (I'm an ardent disciple), which delivers better results in less time by using high technology and arduous routines to push limits. Much grunting and pain for gain.
America is in the middle of a high intensity workout. Longtime societal mores are frequently challenged as traditional institutions are working at maximum levels to adapt to changing demographics, an evolving economy and flood of information through the web. Americans demand elected officials and business leaders fulfill promises and extract vengeance if denied.
This is exhausting, but results are positive. The #MeToo movement is transformative. Our entrepreneurial spirit is strong. Slurs against minority citizens are not tolerated by an overwhelming majority of Americans. Fundamental constitutional principles are beloved and intensely protected.
Recent controversies are perplexing, but our great nation has experienced worse and still prospered. The current national high intensity exercise is generating sweat and groans but will make us leaner, stronger and more competitive.
Webb: Here’s a tip to avoid going nuts and blowing a gasket: Don’t watch the national news, and stay away from the social media bullies and weirdos. There’s no question that leftist rage, pitted against presidential bombast, is an incendiary combination that produces outrageous behavior by extremists on both sides.
In the meantime, the real America is enjoying a booming economy, low unemployment and times are good for most citizens. Yes, we are deeply divided politically. And our federal government, particularly Congress, is rather a mess.
But the real America outside of Washington, D.C., is running pretty well. Cities, counties and states (with a few exceptions) are solving problems and meeting needs. Innovation in many fields is remarkable, and life, in many ways, has never been easier. I would argue that there exists less bigotry, discrimination, sexism and intolerance than at any time in history. In fact, the only class of humanity that can be safely ridiculed these days is someone like me — old, white, male, Mormon, Republican with a paunch. That’s real progress.
In summary, things aren’t nearly as bad as the cable news sensationalism portrays. It is a tribute to the real America’s resilience that we can thrive despite a dysfunctional Congress and escalating political vitriol.
Nasty rhetoric and even direct harassment seem to be the new norm in Washington politics. What does this say about America, and can cooler heads prevail?
Pignanelli: Gay and lesbian couples deserve a respectful response when exercising their constitutional rights in the public market place (e.g. purchasing wedding cakes or flowers), as does White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when at a restaurant (who was asked to leave). Roseanne Barr appropriately lost her show for the racist tweet, as should have Samantha Bee for using a taboo description in attacking Ivanka Trump. Some TV talking heads were atrocious to those expressing sympathy for children separated from migrating parents. Both sides of the spectrum decry the lack of civility but refuse to criticize bloviators in their ranks for violating basic decency. But this is a historical problem plaguing national dialogue since independence.
Fortunately, most Americans understand that no one is truly courteous and civil unless they are decent to those with whom they disagree.
Webb: The rhetoric is ugly, but we’ll be OK. Trump is a wild man, but he’s not the end of the world as we know it. He trashes political etiquette and blows things up, but sometimes that’s the only way to break logjams.
Utah’s primary election last Tuesday went smoothly. What do the results forecast for the future politics?
Pignanelli: The Beehive State set the national standard for common sense last week, guaranteeing a campaign season filled with intelligent thoughtful candidates from both parties. What a relief!
Webb: As a former GOP presidential nominee with a national focus, Mitt Romney will be a very interesting U.S. senator. But he’ll need to pay attention to Utah. Six-year terms make it easy for a senator to become a creature of Washington and lose touch with the folks back home.
Meanwhile, John Curtis cemented his position in the U.S. House. He’ll be very difficult to unseat in the future.