The current state of political affairs is anything but politics as usual. The nation appears to be divided on almost every issue from Social Security to military expenditures. This general election is more contentious than any other in recent memory. We have seen a political polarization dominated by the extremes. We appear to be a people turned in on ourselves and ready to tear each other apart. Whoever wins the upcoming elections will be faced with attempting to govern a seriously divided populous.
I can’t help but believe this division is in response to the recent financial collapse and ever slow recovery. However, I don’t think it is just the failure of the economic system but it includes something more. It seems that anytime we have a major change to economic systems and means of production and services; a serious divide ensues. If we search our own short history, this type of division occurred when we began the transformation to an industrial economy. Around 180 years ago tensions began to build between the emerging industrialization of the U.S. Northeast and Upper Midwest against the Agriculturist Southern tier of states. The division of the vision for the future between the two led to the bloodiest war that this nation has ever been involved in.
We are currently caught up in a major transition from the post industrial age to the information age. The world has shrunken down to a monitor and keyboard. We are in the process of becoming a truly global society intricately connected in every dimension and at every level. Our overall awareness and access to information is unprecedented. This is driving unknown and uncontrolled social change. Every major social institution is under pressure to change; from education to business to religion and beyond. The question we are faced with is how we deal with such rapid change?
In such uncertain times and with people’s insecurities heightened by change and an unknown future; how are we to proceed? One thing for certain is that we cannot afford plunging into social and political chaos. We must acknowledge that both sides of the political spectrum are dedicated to a single purpose; the preservation of our civilization and commitment to a republican democracy. That democracy is dependent on opposing forces coming into contact and interacting in such a manner as to move us forward in the process of adaptation to the realities of globalization. The old political systems, whether socialism or laissez faire capitalism, are insufficient to meet the new demands facing us now and in the future. Globalization requires new perspectives and new social structures, some of which we haven’t even imagined.
Our republican democracy requires us to balance opposing forces and interests. We need both points of view as we move forward into the uncertainty of the future. We must not forget that after the elections we must come together to pursue our joint goals. This will mean leaving the ugliness of the elections behind and search for commonality and a balance of interests. Successful societies only survive if they are able to adapt; those that can’t or won’t will soon become extinct.