I have always tried to avoid discussing politics on the Internet (although sometimes it’s difficult). But in an unusual (not to mention critical) year, I might as well try to make a contribution.
To begin with, I am a history nerd and over the decades I have developed an interest in the political landscape. Plus my academic training has given me more than my fair share of management training. Put all this together, and what I have noticed, in a nonpartisan/bipartisan way, is that procedurally we consistently seem to be doing two things wrong.
First, we do a poor job of defining our problems. We simply don’t think deeply enough about such factors as cause and effect. Blame the level of political discourse, blame the shallowness of the news media, or perhaps individually we’re too absorbed in our own routines. In any event, the first step is to define the problem, and we just don’t do that very well.
Second, when we try to solve a problem, we tend to take the easy way out. Maybe it’s a matter of short attention spans. Maybe it reflects on our education system. But we always seem to expect a quick solution. And remember what H. L. Mencken said, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.”
For example — immigration. The current political debate is focusing on building physical barriers to keep unwanted/illegal people out. It’s an obvious problem, right? But why do they want to come here in the first place? It would seem to me that if these people had decent standards of living in their home countries, there would be no reason for them to crave such drastic change. Let’s face it, migrating entails huge risks, especially when families and communities are left behind and doubly especially if you are illegal.
Second, building a wall seems like a good solution. But we have been building walls at great cost. If you really think they work, there’s a YouTube video you should watch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfVENwfeGHw). By the way, it took me about ten seconds to find that. And yes, I know trying to help people attain better lives in their home countries is very difficult and expensive. I was a Latin American Studies major in college, and I fully realize some nations south of us have frequently been ruled by corrupt and inefficient regimes. And the poor number in the tens of millions. Such a project would take decades. But on the other hand, for how many decades have we had an ineffective immigration policy? Besides, we are the nation that led the rebuilding of Europe, Japan, and Korea. Or to put it another way, how many college scholarships would a mile of wall in the desert provide?
One other comment — in the media, and especially on the Internet, there are many stories posted that are the products of someone with either an extreme agenda or a vivid imagination. What can you believe? If it sounds implausible, it probably is fiction. So check it out. There are several excellent fact-checking websites on the Internet. My favorites are PolitiFact (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/), FactCheck.org (http://www.factcheck.org/), and Snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com/). Visiting these regularly is the best antidote I know to being misled by the latest emotional appeal.
Oh, and prayer might be a good idea, too.