Throughout my history and government classes, I've found myself consistently drawn to how the United States has fluctuated between an international and domestic focus across various administrations. The most significant document in relation to this topic is George Washington’s farewell address as he was leaving the office of the first president. In this piece, Washington outlined two warnings to the posterity of America. First, be wary of forming alliances and treaties, as becoming intertwined in long-term relations would result in forced commitment and antagonism to other countries.
Second, Washington warned of the development of political parties, but I would prefer to delve into that subject at a later date.
Since Washington’s parting, the United States has found itself constantly shifting between a focus on foreign and domestic policy, granted that in certain periods both were occurring at the same time. The New Deal was FDR’s way of changing the legacy of domestic policy, with several of the era’s institutions like Social Security and the FHA still being in place. On the other hand, we had the cold war and Vietnam, and generally the era of the “red scare” where, despite internal tension with McCarthyism, the nation primarily focused on the fight against communism around the world.
But, as presidential responsibilities have extended beyond those outlined in Article II of the constitution, and globalization and foreign relations have increased, it appears that the US government has so much on its plate at any given moment that it ends up making no decisions. Instead, we bicker over partisan loyalty and differences, ultimately leading us to stagnate in a state of gains and losses that ultimately balance out to no progress at all.
I believe that in 2020, whoever is elected should believe in both a stronger balance/separation of powers, system of checks and balances, but most importantly, they should have a decisive view on whether the focus for the nation should be internal reform or global affairs. Of course for certain issues such as climate change and energy there must be work done on both a national and international scale, but there are urgent issues that require full focus for entire presidential terms if one wants to achieve progress. For example, gun rights/control: No matter what party or platform wins power in the next election, there will need to be vested and focused interest in the gun debate for a full term if any change is to come. If not, we will just be left in a place like today, where the only events to bring about temporary interest in gun violence are those leaving dozens of innocent children dead, where after two weeks, the discussion is disregarded.
It is important to have officials in place who act not on impulse or the advantage of events that support their platform, but instead those who have and will continuously dedicate themselves to a cause no matter the impact it may have on their re-election, and who focus on the betterment of their constituency and the American people.
I respect anyone who can remain true to their cause, not seeking crisis opportunities to augment their political standing. If you can base your belief in objective evidence and truth, then go forward and do so, but you also must listen to the voices of those who challenge you.
You cannot simply go about believing in your truth while disregarding that of others. Cooperation and coexistence are vital to the existence and maintenance of the American government. We need LEADERS who think, discuss, listen, and share, not those who follow alone.