Hello World!

First, let me extend a welcome to any reader who is interested in serious (but, hopefully, at times, humorous) discussion of issues in philosophy, religion, or politics.  Philosophy is the discipline through which I prepared for my career.  I have strong avocational interest in religion.  And I have spent the last four years completing an unpublished book on American politics entitled “Beyond Polarization.” 

As a senior citizen I can not recall a time when my concern for the future of the country has been greater.   Over the last forty years,  as both parties became less pragmatic, and more ideological in their focus, American politics has become very polarized.  During this period of time, very serious problems have developed which need to be addressed.  The United States has not adjusted to the free market global economy.  While both political parties have been supportive of a free market approach and for less regulation, neither party has addressed the negative consequences that have resulted from this approach for large segments of the American population.  The gap between wealthy Americans and those living in poverty has grown larger with fewer Americans falling in between.  The Social Security System will be facing major problems when large number of baby boomers begin to retire, but no political solution has been found.  The number of Americans without adequate health care insurance is approaching 50 million.  For those Americans who do have health care coverage, the cost of that coverage is escalating at an unsustainable rate.  The nation is facing a growing energy crisis as the demand for oil increases around the world, and the per barrel price of oil moves toward $150.  Major concerns are developing concerning the environment.  The American education system at the elementary and secondary levels is falling behind in the global context.  All of these problems are recognized by both political parties, but very little progress has been made   To the extent that the problems facing the nation cannot be addressed through the political process, that  process has become dysfunctional. 

Another sign of the dysfunctionality of the American political process is the struggle over the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court.  At this point the most significant variable in the appointment of these judges is their ideological stance.  Their position on a specific set of issues has become a litmus test for their appointment.  Their experience and qualifications as lawyers and judges has become less important. 

A final evidence that the U. S. political process has become diysfuncitonal is that because the two parties are polarized by ideological differences, it has not been possible for the two parties to work together and to compromise their respective positions so as to arrive at pragmatic solutions.  Historically, compromise has been the key to working toward the solution of problems through the US political process.  But with ideological differences being assigned the relative importance which they have for both parties, compromise has been out of the question.

One sign that ideology is at the heart of the current polarization of the political process is the role that religion has come to play in American politics.  Christian conservatives believe that America has been formed in a covenantal relationship with God to serve as a beacon on a hill to all the other nations of the world.  They believe that the founders of the nation were Christian, that the American Constitution rests on Christian principles, and that it is legitimate to use the political process to impose these principles on all Americans.  The traditional separation of state and church implied in the non-establishment clause has been challenged by Christian conservatives.  And in the most recent primary season candidates stumbled over one another to make public their allegiance to the Christian faith in spite of the fact that the Consititution includes the specific prescription that there shall be no religious test of office.  A major problem for Obama has been created by a minority of Americans who are convinced that he is Muslim.  This problem has been addressed by Obama and his defenders by repeated insistence that he is a Christian.  The sad part about this is that even if he were Muslim, this should not stand in the way of considering him for public office. 

It is my intention to use this blog site to explore issues in philosophy, religion, education, and politics in the hope of assisting others to move beyond polarization toward a pragmatic and effective political process.

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