There’s an alarming, growing wave of Americans who distrust and/or dislike government, both national and state.

Politicians and pundits keep repeating that “We are all Americans. We will come together.” No we won’t. There are too many powerful divisive matters to be so simply overcome by nationalism. California is too big for its government britches and needs to be split north and south. Missouri, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan and Texas are in turmoil over gun rights.  Many cities find themselves hosting angry Blacks who are rising up over discrimination and lack of equal opportunity. Others have serious police problems. You saw Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, Boston and Chicago. Riots hit 74 of our largest 100 cities, plus smaller ones such as Rochester, N.Y. and Kenosha, Wisconsin. We are mad about the slow-poke roll-out of the Covid vaccine here and what seem to be at-odds-leaders ways of combatting the virus.

I’m retired and not poor, so my interaction with government is minimal. Pay taxes. Collect Social Security, Use Medicare, report large potholes when out on my moped. Getting vaccinated this morning.

So many are not doing so well. They see big corporations skip taxes while theirs are taken out of salaries from too-low minimum wage jobs. They can’t find affordable housing. They send children to under-performing schools. They fear college costs and whether their small savings will be exhausted by the time they are old. They see the 1% with dozens of billions in net worths paving the road to government influence with campaign donations. They’d get more help in Germany, Singapore or Scandinavia.

We all bear some of the blame in that we tend to keep electing the same old. If a community-minded Natalie Iwasa or Choon James offer themselves for government service, we turn them down. We keep the Calvin Says going, along with most of the 76 lawmakers in our Legislature. And wonder why it’s the same-old.

Frankly, governments need serious makeovers. In an ideal world, we’d rewrite the U.S. Constitution to reflect modern times and issues. It’s not a realistic goal. No one would agree or compromise.

The politicians say “there will be reconciliation and healing.” No there won’t. Our differences were ridden into the White House by Donald Trump and nourished. Some 80 million voters want him kept there — indefinitely. Polls say about 88% of those who support Republicans still want him. That D.C. insurrection needs to be taken seriously. It wasn’t an aberration. It’s not even new. In 1713, more than 400 people rioted and fought police and soldiers in Boston over the high price of bread.

Hawaii people, especially, know that you ignore a huge, building wave at your peril.

             —30—

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

6 replies on “Divided We Stand. United? No Way!”

  1. Bravo, well stated, Bob, writes another senior. I would add abolish the seniority system in Congress. It defeats the premise that we are represented equally, and deters the needed changes for betterment for the people and environment.

  2. Bob, the real problem centers around a simple fact: Government, at all levels, has become another business. It pays well with lots of benefits. And Hawai’i is the textbook example of this. Hawai’i Government–State and County–is musical chairs at its best. Serve on the Council and get termed out, run for Leg. Have enough of the Leg, run for Council or get appointed to some State or City job. Run for Governor and lose? Don’t worry, we’ll find another “office” for you. We can name a dozen or more “professional” politicians who have learned to play the game. They DO NOT serve our interests, they look for the next paycheck and pension credits. Oh sure, we see the newbe’s who run for an office, loaded with the desire to “make a difference”. But after a term or two, they join the ranks of “Hey, this is a good deal. Why rock the boat??” . And down the line, they set up their kids or other relatives to succeed them and keep the ” family business” going.
    It’s a National Problem..which is why so many people are so frustrated. Congress is a trainwreck. Maybe 20% of the people’s business actually is addressed. Mostly, our “reps” hide behind polls and kowtowto moneyed Special Interests. If that were not the case, issues such as Immigration, Health Care, Infrastructure, and other Economic concerns would have been solved BY the Congress years ago.
    But it will NOT change until people stop complaining and get involved by voting and working for political party reform–on both sides. Our mess is OUR fault. YOUR attitude is an example of the problem: “I’m retired and not poor, so my interaction with government is minimal”. So you accept all the anti-taxpayer and anti-people changes Government quietly makes???
    If so, you remain part of the problem. Your columns are a good start..but more people need to get fired up.

    1. One thing we all can do is vote for Con Con next time that comes up. The last Con Con resulted in a lot of new legislative blood.

  3. I agree with several of the points you brought up in today’s column, especially that governments need serious makeovers and that the D.C. insurrection needs to be taken seriously. I agree with Patty that the seniority system in Congress should be abolished. I agree with Larry Barr that people need to get involved by voting (a point you also made) and working for political party reform, that your columns are a good start and that more people need to get fired up. I personally have found your columns to be great motivation to contact government officials on various issues. Regarding Larry’s point that people need to get involved, I think that election of the two Democrats in the recent Georgia runoff elections, and the resulting removal of power of the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, are a great attribute to the work of all who did get involved to achieve this outcome. Now it’s up to these two senators-elect to prove themselves worthy. I do not think highly at all of the overly powerful two-party system, but I hope that a Democrat president-elect and Democrat majority in the U.S. Senate and House will make advancements on the issues that Larry mentioned – immigration, health care, infrastructure and other economic concerns. Otherwise, we have to keep fired up!

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