ARLENE VIOLET – Can American values be restored?

ARLENE VIOLET – Can American values be restored?

It seems a bit xenophobic to focus on the future of America since, after all, we are part of a global environment. Yet, many political events are shaped and influenced by American values or the lack thereof so it’s probably worth it to see where this country has been and where it appears headed. The United States can pivot toward its better nature, or the worst is yet to come.

This column is about American values. Economically, the country and those around the world are mostly doing better following the malaise of the last decade. Health care has improved throughout the world. Yet, there is a sickness behind the headlines which bodes for a woeful outlook.

Democracy is endangered. In this country partisanship has blinded Americans to the good arguments of those who don’t share the same political party moniker. Folks cannot talk to each other without rage. Congress is stalled because of allegiance to party as opposed to what is right. The president spews hateful rhetoric on a daily basis and his supporters cheer. Totalitarianism is emerging without any resistance. Even hallowed institutions like the FBI have become craven. The chilling 434-page report by the U.S. Inspector General showed gross abuses by some agents investigating the Trump campaign in 2016. Yet, some members of that campaign also acted cravenly as evidenced by the Mueller convictions. There seemed to be no ethical line in the sand not to cross. FBI officials should similarly be prosecuted for violations of civil rights. The public should not be exculpating violators of law just because they are attuned to their political likes.

Coupled with overbroad surveillance by the government is the despicable trend of technology companies, in effect, spying on the public. Nothing much has happened to curb these companies’ intrusions into the life of folks by the sale of information gathered through the internet or “spying Alexa’s.” The public has become anesthetized to the potential harm of an all-knowing government or Google.

The First Amendment has been attacked by the casual acceptance of censorship. While it is partially true that some so-called journalists have frittered away the tradition of objective reporting, nonetheless the senseless chant of “fake news” is so overused that its very cacophony threatens objective reporting of facts. The public has become naïve by dissing reports that run counter to their predilections.

The continued separation of children from immigrants seeking refuge from brutish regimes in Central America and the failure to resolve the immigration crisis undermines the very heart and soul of this country. Building walls doesn’t address the horrific violence visited upon families who seek only a better life for their children. Not any one of us would lie down on the job of fleeing with our loved ones who are endangered. Yet, Congress plays off each other and has failed to make reform since the days of President Ronald Reagan. Yes, this country has too few judges to process asylum applications and adequate holding facilities, but the real culprit is the propping up of despots by federal policies that ignore their wrongdoing.

In a future column, the woeful state of civic education will be addressed. Coupled with the factors above, 2020 may begin the decade of erosion of what makes us Americans.

Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general.