Amitai Etzioni wrote The Spirit of Community, one of my favorite books about re-thinking political engagement. I’m reading his latest book, Reclaiming Patriotism. America is divided by two sides: a President favoring strong-armed individualism vs. a large population seeking compassionate ethos. ‘Never say die’ individualism can propagate grit, creativity, and entrepreneurship. The timing is off during a public health crisis ruining the lives of millions. There comes a time for the ’Ayn Rand’ approach to life, but not now when our collective survival means protecting others first and collaborating for the greater good. The crowd always wins when the leader seeks to go at it alone.
It’s shocking how far behind America is falling because of awful political leadership and the erosion of checks & balances. Amitai Etzioni’s earlier books were a precursor for centrist government. This one portends a struggle for the same, but I see the problem flatlining within America’s two-party system — where stakeholders avoid compromise to make America survive this moment — knowing conflict ensures them a lucrative political career by doing the bare minimum to satisfy their party’s needs. Instead of teaching our children about what brings us together, the parties manipulate a populace moved by self-interest. Most people care more about each other and achieving the American Dream. The pandemic is being mishandled on both sides of the fence. The world faces a common enemy, yet American politicians focus on the vanity of the moment. America deserves better.