Like one of the famed Flying Wallendas, our nation is precariously poised on a taut tightrope stretched betweeen two extremes, either equally dangerous. Typically, we think that leaning too far to the left results in government overreach, and I believe that is accurate. However, leaning too far to the right also results in government overreach of a different kind. We have lost sight of the fact that politics is the art of the possible. Most of my blogs deal in one way or another with the idea that in the new millenium, our challenge is to apply old reliable values to a new reality.
We have to redefine the concept of a balance of power. No longer is the balance of power between three branches of government sufficient to guarantee universal freedom, if indeed it ever was sufficient. This is currently relevant, since most people feel that the balance of power in government is often ignored. Judges are accused of legislating from the bench. Presidents are accused of usurping more executive power than they are granted by the Constitution. Congress men and women are accused of pandering to lobbyists and to the economic interests of their local constituencies.
Of course, if one studies history in any depth at all, reading not only interpretations of history that are sympathetic to one’s political biases, the reader recognizes that there is nothing new about any of this. But that does not mean that we should accept the status quo. Certainly we should continue to strive for balance of power in government. Our forbears created a system that has worked better than most governments in history and that has become a model for others.
No longer is the balance of power between three branches of government sufficient to guarantee universal freedom, if indeed it ever was sufficient.
But we should also remember that it is more important than ever to strive for a balance of power among the special interest groups in our ever more diverse society. Different factions in the culture have always struggled to have their voices and convictions heard. So far, the belief that one person’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins has moved us toward an ever better balance. But if we are not vigilant, that balance will never be achieved. On the other hand, if we the people will it, we have the opportunity to create the most optimum balance between fairness and freedom that we have ever had.
The new balance of power must not grant too much power to any one faction. We must strive for compromise on the domestic issues that concern us, finding that line in the sand where one group’s rights are not allowed to violate another group’s rights. The priority, of course, needs to be the rights that we all share — the rights to safety, freedom from persecution and responsible free speech. This is obviously no easy matter, but it is possible. None of us should be allowed to legislate all of our opini0ns for everyone else, however much we may wish that we could. But we do all have the right and the responsibility to carve out our niches in private life free from interference from other groups, we have the right to equal access to the airwaves, and we have the right and responsibility to make sure that our freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs are protected, whether or not those beliefs are popular.
We can create a culture of kindness, respect, and brotherhood, rather than a culture of anger. During this election year, we need to all remember that we are Americans first. Our political inclinations should not define us. Rather our common humanity should define us.
Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, https://floridamemory.com/items/show/245050 – See more at: https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/245050#sthash.dTiLwb6l.dpuf