On a day when we have politicians complaining that their rivals spend too much time speaking about their military service without recognizing the extent of their real sacrifice (in that case, two legs) to having the fear that Obamacare will lead to socialized medicine and a mass exodus of doctors from their practices, I have been accused of being something many have probably thought but not been comfortable saying. I have been accused of being a "leftist", of being a "Republicon", an "Ivory Tower Thinker'", which course I do not accept. Today I was accused of being, wait for it.....an "Optimist!" OMG! Someone who looks at everything that is supposed to be bad and somehow perceived it to be somehow positive! Shameful! Actually, when it comes to everyday matters, my wife would consider me to really be a pessimist, but when it comes to our government and politics, I can say that I am really, deep down, a pragmatic optimist! So, I guess you can now take everything I say about our government and political environment with a real large grain of salt. I do believe we have the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. I do believe we have the best system of government, even with all of its warts, scars and troubles. Although I do believe in these positives, I do recognize that we as a nation, have a ton of problems that can only be addressed by our elected officials, those who we trust will work on solutions that will benefit all of us. Can we really believe we have those elected officials in place to do what needs to be done for us all? I don't think so. Can we find better? Of course we can! Can we do it within the existing political environment? Now you got me. But as a teacher of American History and not just government and politics, I know that our great nation "earned its stripes" by fire, which included some very contentious political upheaval, and we not only survived, but we came out stronger as a result. I believe that we have three factors working against us at this point in our political history. 1. We have political parties driven to retain and/or increase power by allying themselves with interest groups, putting their real constituents - the American People second. Big mistake. 2. We have forgotten or fail to appreciate our solid history, which makes us vulnerable to manipulative politicians driven to wrap themselves with power instead of true public service; and 3. We have a For-Profit media interested in only attracting viewership and market share through efforts less honorable than truly educating our electorate and more interested in pushing polarizing sensationalized political rhetoric, which only divides us against our own self-interests which leads to most folks being turned off by politics and more inclined to leave politicians to work our problems out for us. So, one day soon, I believe the American People will learn again about how our government is structured and how it is to really work, and then we shall as a united America, hold our elected officials responsible to make decisions based upon our true national interests, and not those that "donate" to them to legislate in their behalf. Hopefully, that day will be soon. Am I nuts? Am I just wrapping myself "in the flag?" Am I too optimistic?
Daniel R. Rubin is an Attorney, Educator, Lecturer and National Award Winning Author. He is a recently retired adjunct professor of American History who also taught Advanced Placement United States Government and American Politics in Venice, Florida.