Once again it has become apparent that the partisan divisions within our nation have strained our patriotic foundation to the point of crumbling.
Turn on the TV news any day and you will see competing narratives that seem to have nothing in common. On CNN and MSNBC, the lead story every day is that President Trump or someone close to him did something wrong — horribly wrong — impeachably wrong. On FOX News though, the story is more likely to be that President Trump is the victim of a political conspiracy, and you will learn about a lot of exculpatory evidence that never seems to show up on CNN or MSNBC.
I watch all three news channels, plus Fox Business and C-SPAN, so I get a pretty well-rounded view of what the nation is being told by the opinion-makers. In addition, I read news from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and Breitbart.com every day, in addition to the AP coverage in the Daily Inter Lake.
What I see is frankly terrifying. First of all, the news media no longer make any effort to be unbiased or neutral reporters of fact. You can’t even talk about left-leaning media any more; it is now left LEADING. The entire national conversation is being directed by unelected, self-selected arbiters of right and wrong sitting in anchor chairs at “news” channels. Politicians now take their signals from TV talkers, and since they know where the real power lies, they don’t dare stray from the party line as defined by those talk-show hosts.
This has been most obvious in the daily onslaught of stories about the Trump candidacy, the Trump transition and the Trump presidency. On one channel, you will hear that Trump colluded with Russians, obstructed justice, broke the law and will probably go to jail. On another channel you will hear that Hillary Clinton and her Democratic allies used the FBI and the corrupt Justice Department as political weapons to first try to disgrace Trump and then to destroy him with manufactured evidence.
Yet it is not only the political future of the country that is in the balance, but the economic future and ultimately the existential future as well.
How exactly can it be, for instance, that a matter of such import to the nation as the tax-reform plan can be decided entirely on a partisan basis? Is there no Democrat who sees the advantage of lowering taxes in order to stimulate the economy? Do Democrats not have any small businesses in the states they represent? Yet when the Senate voted on the tax reform plan recently, it was on a straight party-line vote except for one lone Republican who voted with the Democrats.
Moreover, because of the echo-chamber news outlets, a large majority of Americans reportedly oppose the tax cuts being offered to them because they are being told they are actually tax increases. Huh? How did a tax cut become an increase? That’s easy. Because of what Mark Twain called “lies, damned lies and statistics.” Most of the statistics being used to show a tax increase for middle-income Americans actually plug in numbers from 2027, the first year after the tax cuts are set to EXPIRE! That is just plain dishonest, but you can’t expect the folks in Congress, let alone the folks watching the news on TV, to figure out the truth, can you?
The tax cuts are going to benefit most (not all) Americans, rich and poor, but more importantly, the lower corporate tax rates would stimulate growth in our economy like we have not seen for 30 years. That would result in money flooding back into the country, higher wages and more jobs, and it really doesn’t have to be partisan at all. Democrat John Kennedy did the same thing five decades ago.
But this isn’t about one vote or one tax plan or even one president. It is about the very nature of our country and our freedom.
George Washington warned, among many other cogent points of advice, in his 1796 “Farewell Address” that partisanship had the capacity to destroy the nation by blinding us to what had brought us together in the first place.
The first president assured us that “the unity of Government, which constitutes you one people” is a “main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize.”
In other words, it is our unity of purpose that underlies all our success, yet somehow, miraculously, just eight years into the American experiment, Washington had already foreseen that this “unity of Government” would be under attack for nefarious purpose.
“It is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”
I doubt whether Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, or Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, have given much if any thought to these words of George Washington, but surely they are living out the worst nightmare of our first commander in chief. The “immense value of our national Union” is apparent to me and millions of Americans, but sadly I am losing hope that it will withstand the current “attempt to alienate” the red states of Trump Country from the blue states of Clinton Country. God save us.
Frank Miele is managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org