November 8th, 2017

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#1310 – Dick Bernard: The Eagle’s Wings: the first day of the second year.

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

A year ago, Wednesday, the United States woke to a new President-Elect, Donald J. Trump.

This morning, a year later, the nation awoke to the results of the 2017 elections. While there were relatively few races, what happened yesterday is possibly a messenger of what is to come.

(click to enlarge)

Bronze Eagle presented to Minnesota Landscape Arboretum by Mary Lou Nelson, October, 2008.

It is foolish for someone like me to do an analysis of what the last twelve months mean to the present and future of the United States. Trump won. And he was embraced by the Republican party, which felt he would be useful to achieving their political agenda.

I offer some things to think about:

First, how did YOU vote a year ago, and why? The national results are so large as to be incomprehensible. Some months ago I looked up one rural county with which I am familiar. It is in a “red” state. Here were the returns. The numbers speak for themselves.

3,277 – Eligible Voters
1,481 – Trump
502 – Clinton
109 – Johnson
59 – Other (13 for Stein)
1,126 – Did not cast a vote for President

Where, among those 3,277, were you one year ago?

Certainly, in this single rural county Donald Trump overwhelmingly defeated Hillary Clinton. Was theirs a wise choice? They will find out.

Second, consider the Eagle Sculpture pictured above.

For a lot of years I’ve imagined our political system to be generally analogous to our national bird, the Bald Eagle.

There is a story to the sculpture: it was originally named “The Hunter” by the sculptor; the lady who contributed it to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in 2008, my friend Mary Lou Nelson (dec Jan 2016), called it “the Messenger of Peace”, and that is its message at the Arboretum.

It is a magnificent sculpture. But I am sure there were some discussions within the organization about the name issue…what it was called.

(The Bald Eagle is itself very much a mixed message…Mary Lou reinvented the powerful “hunter” as a “messenger of peace”. I think the sculptor himself struggled a bit with that at the time of dedication. But this eagle was Mary Lou’s, and she could name it as she wished!)

Our political nation is, I maintain, quite analogous to this bird, and perhaps its creator and its benefactor as well.

Like the bird, our nation has a left wing, and a right wing, with a body along for the ride, but whose parts must be a functioning part of a team.

The wings are essential for successful flight. But an eagle whose wings are out of balance in any way cannot survive. For one wing to dominate and control the other is not healthy for the eagle.

Similarly, the head – the brains of the outfit – the seat of power, as it were – cannot survive on its own. It certainly has some influence over the body, so long as there is some semblance of balance within the system.

The crucial part is the body…we, the people.

Of course, there can be endless arguments about this analogy. But like a healthy bird, all the parts must be in reasonable balance. Try flying an airplane with only one wing, or one vastly superior to and independent of the other: it doesn’t work.

Our country is badly out of balance, and has been for too long.

We, the people are the ones who must monitor and adjust and change the way our governance works.

That is what, in my opinion, began to happen on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.

It’s up to us to make it continue.

PERSONALLY: Tuesday was encouraging to me. Voters seem, at least in this single election “round”, to be moving away from what has been increasing polarization, and domination by what I call the radical right wing. To use the eagle analogy, attempted domination by the tip of the so-called “right wing”.

Evidence, for me, is reasonable conversation among friends with differing points of view, and reasonable action following such conversations.