Disapproval in government is downright pathetic. Congress’ approval rating, according to the Gallup poll, is hovering around 10 percent.
Additionally, the Supreme Court is now being hit with political disdain. Typically, the Court has been shy of political disapproval.
I am not sure what the cause is. Is it genuine disapproval of policies in these institutions or is it more about mistrust? The latter is the troubling component. If the United States holds the concept of “government of the people, by the people, and for people,” it would seem detrimental to say that we do not trust it. If we do not trust it, it would be sufficient to say that we do not trust ourselves.
Before you read on, read this article from Robert D. Putnam titled Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital. He discusses the erosion of civic engagement and civic trust and he does a wonderful job, but I want to expose an element of the gun control debate that has not been identified yet. Culture, independence, personal responsibility, and safety are all the current philosophical principles that are at the heart of the gun control debate.
[An early entry to this blog discussed the events of mass shootings so I will not go into how we should evaluate those events here.] Liberals and moderates have reasonable arguments such as preventing extended magazines and limiting sells of assault weapons (if only we could define assault weapon), but this debate is an extension of the inherit mistrust we have of our fellow citizens. Liberals calling for gun control measures is the lesser expression of mistrust. It is out of sight, out of mind trick. There is something more ruthless about arming teachers, co-workers, and posting packed guards in strategic areas.
I do not mean ruthless in the sense of disapproval, but of the vibrant expression of mistrust.
I see it as another troubling trend of an abstract, dark, and destructive force that erodes the concept of a community, civic trust, and a government of the people by and for the people. This force is replacing the concept of common community with common spaces, from civic trust to mistrust, and a government that is increasingly abstract, misunderstood, and beyond the reaches for its average citizens. This troubles me deeply.
On these topics, I fear the fear itself.
I want our government and citizens to debate the solutions to gun control/ gun rights on different grounds and that can be applied to every other conceivable area.
What can we do as a nation to maximize the greatest trust and civic engagement without contributing to greater political polarization or abolishing a healthy dose of caution?
The answer is not legislative or political, but juxtaposition with community and civic reform. This reform must start with self-discipline and a self determined action to get involved with the people you share a common, yet short, journey with. With these actions a more actively engaged community, states, and country will become reality. We can build and strengthen understanding and unanimity in addition, recognize individuals that are insincere and mentally ill.
Otherwise our current practices will spur more polarization, misunderstanding, gridlock, and mistrust that becomes more common and beastly.