The Threat to Values Comes From Within

The Threat to Values Comes From Within

Our politics has become dangerously twisted – and the rot comes from voices within our own parties. Extremist factions are hijacking the GOP, discarding principles for power. Corporate taxes remain untouched as inequality grows. Billionaires and megachurches exert unchecked influence.

This corrosion of ethics can’t be blamed on external enemies. The threat festers inwardly from groups valuing dominance over decency. They clamor to control agendas, even if it means crushingly perverse tradeoffs. Their transactional morality claims the ends justify shredding norms.

We must stop this wrenching of our system from within before values vanish completely. Morally-centered conservatives used to anchor our politics, maintaining fidelity to higher ideals. Now, too many betray such legacies to indulge in personal ambition or zealotry.

The data bears out this ethical drift. Studies show political polarization and partisan animosity at the highest levels since tracking began. Compromise is seen as a betrayal. Congressional productivity has ground to a halt. Threats against public officials are skyrocketing. And public trust in government sinks lower each year.

Meanwhile, economic inequality has returned to Gilded Age disparities as corporate profits soar. Yet tax burdens on huge multinationals have been lightened through a barrage of lobbying while middle-class families tread water. It’s estimated that over $7.5 trillion sits offshore untaxed – lost funding that could expand health care, education, infrastructure, and small business growth.

This abundance of wealth now floods unchecked into politics, too – a crisis equally matched across both parties. Hundreds of millions inundate campaigns, often from opaque mega-donors seeking to tilt policy preferences. Gerrymandering carves out radical partisan districts detached from centrist perspectives. Social media hands megaphones to fringe actors and vile disinformation. This is the backdrop framing our fracturing.

Reforms deserve debate but should uphold ethics. Corporate responsibility must match privileges and wealth amassed. Reasonable billionaire taxes align with progressive structures dating back decades. Most nonprofits dedicated to apolitical social goods deserve tax exemption – but politicized megachurches and shadow interest groups should get no pass. And parties require enough backbone to expel demagogues twisting cherished platforms for their own benefit.

This reclamation of grounding principles won’t come easily when fanatic factions abound. But across disagreement, most Americans share basic human values of fairness, honesty, and compassion. Surveys confirm that the vast majority hold nuanced views, routinely supporting a mix of moderately progressive and conservative policies. Yet sensational amplification of extremes distorts perceptions, making compromise seem impossible when common ground exists across myriad issues.

We must summon the courage to come together, bridging divisions to rescue politics’ integrity. This starts with civic participation – sheer engagement counters extremes. Talking respectfully with those holding differing views. Supporting institutional reforms like nonpartisan districting and donation transparency. Backing candidates who weigh complex tradeoffs rather than pursuing dogmatism. Working towards the constructive center is the best therapy for destructive fringes.

Our legislatures and courts must also reassert shared standards. Passing campaign finance laws adjusting to new realities of influence. Updating ambiguous statutes guiding ethical oversight. Setting clear modern expectations, protocols, and accountability for unacceptable rhetoric or acts seeking to intimidate public servants. Providing resources and security to uphold governance now dangerously under siege from fanatic threats.

Most importantly, principled institutionalists must wrest back control within parties hijacked by zealots who mistake progress for destruction. Moderation for cowardice. Compromise for conspiracy. This reorientation of the GOP is democracy’s gravest internal threat. Its only resolution lies with courageous voices of reason emerging from within – putting constitution and moral conscience ahead of party fealty. Until institutional reforms facilitate this rebalancing, the perversion of conservatism enabled by acquiescent silence only grows.

For if ethical people disengage, the ethical fabric of our nation frays further. Objecting with votes alone changes little when extremists now make the rules. In times demanding active patriotism, good people must directly challenge forces seeking power through division rather than earn it through ideas.

This renewal of purpose must rise from within and spread across differences. There is no more urgent fight worth waging today to save the soul of our nation’s democracy – hanging desperately between steep decline or painful progress. Either America’s silent majority awakens to shape politics resonant with common humanity… or our grand experiment risks falling forever under the cold command of zealous minorities forged in moral absence.

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