As our nation observes Presidents’ Day there’s not much good news regarding how citizens view government at the national level – from Congress, to the White House, to federal agencies.
This is a sobering and troubling reality, especially for feds.
- Presidents’ Day is supposed to be “a time of patriotic celebration and remembrance,” according to History.com.
- “Presidents’ Day is now widely viewed as a day to celebrate all presidents past and present,” says Voice of America.
But there does not appear to be much real celebrating taking place — perhaps other than for the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, for which the holiday was originally designated.
Although historical societies, associations and academia will stage positive Presidents’ Day civic events, most Americans don’t have anything positive to say according to a plethora of national polls.
Why the Sour Mood?
It’s interesting that today’s toxic level of political and civic discourse coincides with historically low approval ratings for Congress and Uncle Sam.
In fact, it appears that the nature and tone of the conversation about the presidency and federal government has plummeted into the abyss.
The proliferation of digital and mobile technology may be partially to blame, including the blogosphere and social media. New and emerging high-tech tools of communication have only added to sensationalism, skepticism and cynicism about the role and function of government by giving the media and citizens a louder bullhorn.
Gone are the days when the president and Congress were viewed with respect and admiration by the general populace.
To the contrary, in recent years the fever pitch of partisan rancor and fed bashing has spread like a cancer. This ugly strain of partisanship and ideological purity has pervaded today’s political debates and conversations to a level which may be unprecedented.
All Presidents Deserve Respect
There’s also a serious problem in America when recent presidents of both parties are treated with disrespect and disdain by members of Congress, partisan political groups, the news media and other elements of society.
The fact that some extremist segments of the citizenry still do not believe President Obama was born in America, for example — despite a multitude of facts to prove it — is outrageous and unfathomable.
The fact that some extremist segments of the citizenry still question this president’s religion is likewise deeply insulting and disrespectful to the holder of highest office in America.
Unfortunately, there appears to be a fringe element of anti-federalist absolutists — including many libertarians — for whom having smaller government is not nearly enough.
These folks want no central government, period.
Their apparent solution to make government more functional is to eliminate it at the national level and return all federal power to the states.
This raises important questions:
- How will trust be rebuilt in government as an institution going forward?
- How do we change the national conversation from a culture of public disdain and distrust of government to one of general respect and admiration?
These questions need to be answered soon.
* All views and opinions are those of the author only.