It’s the Politicians Who Are Failing, Not the Country
By Stephen Tuttle | Nov. 11, 2023
Some national political candidates believe they can curry favor and earn our votes by telling us this is a failing country, or worse, a country that has already failed. It is nonsense.
In fact, there was never a time when we were perfect, and much of our past is definitely not greatness to which we would like to return. But far from failing, we’ve been slowly but consistently trying to make improvements ever since. Sometimes the progress seems almost imperceptible, but it’s always been done without the assistance of a self-anointed savior.
Our constitution, literally revolutionary at the time, was far from perfect. It codified the heinous notion that some people were nothing more than property and women didn’t much count at all. The Bill of Rights we take for granted was quickly added after the fact, and we finally did away with slavery, though it took another 76 years to accomplish. Embarrassingly, it took another 55 years after that before women were given the right to vote.
We’ve made plenty of mistakes, become involved in too many wars, acknowledged our shortcomings too late, and often struggled to find a better path, but we’ve not failed. We still look to our Constitution, the longest surviving such instructions for government on earth, for some answers, but we do keep looking.
The men and women who work in the government institutions on which we rely deserve better than to be painted with a wide negative brush by some gasbag politician or politicians. We aren’t failing, and while there is ample evidence our federal government has grown too big and too expensive, there is scant evidence it is burdened by failure. Incompetence sometimes rules the day, but that’s the failure of individuals.
Our immigration policy—if, in fact, there is one—is the closest thing we have to a failure. But those claiming we have “open borders” significantly insult the 60,000 or so men and women who work for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 19,000 of whom are on the front lines with the Border Patrol. They need substantial increases in frontline personnel to stem the overwhelming flood of alleged asylum seekers now pouring across the border. We aren’t doing enough, but we’re doing way more than nothing.
Other areas are far from failing.
Much as we enjoy complaining about our healthcare system and its inevitable delays, it is improving, not failing. According to the U.S. Census, 304 million Americans had some form of health insurance in 2022, more than 92 percent of the population. And the U.S. leads the world in both medical research and medical technology and creates more new medicines and runs more clinical trials. That isn’t a resume of failure.
Yes, medicine costs and the exploitation of dangerous drugs were and are a problem but are not the sign of systemic troubles; they’re signs of individual and corporate greed.
You’ve likely heard some politicians claiming crime is “out of control.” That comes as a surprise to the more than 700,000 city, county, and state law enforcement personnel in 18,000 departments making sure crime is not out of control. And they’re doing a pretty good job.
According to FBI statistics, murders were down six percent in 2022 and violent crime overall—they categorize murder, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and robbery as violent crime—was down nearly 2 percent. The bad news is firearms were used in more than 500,000 crimes and more young people (22 and younger) were involved in criminal activity. The numbers that ticked up during and immediately after the pandemic were, at their worst, far below the violence of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The often maligned federal Department of Justice (DOJ), which encompasses some 40 different organizations with 115,000 employees, keeps the terrorists at bay among many other responsibilities. Sometimes they make decisions some politicians don’t like, including investigating those very politicians. That not every investigation bears criminal fruit isn’t a sign of a corrupt agency but a sign of men and women doing their jobs and then moving on.
We’re also told our military has become weak and woke, another sign of failure. We have more than 1.4 million active duty men and women in uniform and hundreds of thousands more in reserve who are well-trained, equipped, and deserving of our support and praise. We have the most technologically advanced and deadliest weapons systems ever created by human beings. We have 18 different intelligence agencies helping to keep us secure, and they are not failing either.
The real point is our government is not an amalgam of nameless, faceless ciphers; the criticisms fall on real people, our friends and neighbors doing their best every day while some bilge-spewing politicians use them for target practice. They aren’t failing and our country isn’t failing, but some politicians sure are.