Are We Built To Destroy Ourselves?

Students of theoretical physics are familiar with the principle that if matter and antimatter come into contact, both are instantly annihilated.

Political discourse in 21st Century America has become so toxic and polarized that it has come to resemble the realm of quantum physics, with little — if any — room for agreement or even civil discourse. Both sides — the Republican and the Democrat — cannot coexist without destroying each other or reducing each other’s ideas and policies to shambles.

As we enter the final stretch of the 2022 midterm elections and the starting gate for the 2024 presidential campaigns, it has become clear to everyone except the most diehard Pollyanna that every major public policy issue — including guns, abortion, immigration, energy, and others — is being played out on a “zero sum” game-board. Any oxygen that might otherwise sustain civil debate or compromise has been sucked out.

Consider abortion. Since the Supreme Court declared this past summer that the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade was constitutionally defective, and that henceforth abortion access would be considered an issue for citizens of individual states to decide, the debate has become so white-hot, that for abortion advocates no tactic is off limits — even violence against individual Supreme Court justices. Such actions, while not explicitly endorsed by Democrat Party leaders, enjoy implicit support from many of them.

The issue of Second Amendment rights, always a hotly debated issue in the political arena and the media, remains similarly devoid of compromise. Virtually every incident involving a murder, such the killing of two sheriff’s deputies attempting to serve a warrant in suburban Atlanta last week, becomes an opportunity for Democrat officials to blame “guns” rather than the deeply uncivil and violent behavior among so many young men today.

“Gun control,” a go-to campaign issue for Democrats for more than two generations, has supplanted “crime control” in the debates about how to protect law-abiding citizens in cities across the country. Where 30 years ago many national Democrats, including then-Senator Joe Biden, publicly endorsed tough-on-crime legislation, those same liberals today issue thinly-veiled calls to weaken if not defund police, and blame guns not criminals for increasing rates of violent crime.

There even was a time long ago when agreement could be reached across the aisle to protect key, practical Second Amendment rights, such as the individual right to lawfully transport firearms by interstate carrier across state lines, which has been the law since 1986. Today, such agreement would be impossible.

Immigration, another flashpoint for partisan politics, once upon a time was an issue on which at least limited agreement could be reached. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act was orchestrated by President Reagan in concert with members of Congress from both political parties.

Today, the gulf between the two Parties on immigration policy is so wide that agreement on even the most minor aspects of the problem is impossible. This situation is not difficult to understand, considering that Biden’s “open arms” policy is causing massive numbers of immigrants to cross our southern border unlawfully and completely unimpeded. They are being transported at U.S. taxpayer expense to cities in Texas and elsewhere across the country.

With regard to energy, it also was not that long ago when officials from both major political parties were able to discuss such matters civilly, and even pass energy-related legislation that furthered the goal of national “energy independence” — considered both an economic and a national security benefit for the United States. No longer.

Immediately upon assuming office in January 2021, Biden took steps guaranteeing the energy independence we had achieved under his predecessor’s policies was undone. Today, this administration’s aggressive pursuit of the so-called “green energy” agenda has made compromise over energy needs in the name of national security a pipe dream.

It has been more than a century since Albert Einstein and other physicists first hypothesized and calculated the interactions between matter and antimatter. Contemporary, ongoing experiments with the most sophisticated of equipment continue to confirm those early theoretical predictions that if these two basic building blocks of the physical universe come into contact, both will be annihilated. Whether our political system will suffer the same fate remains very much an open question.

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Bob Barr is a former Congressman who represented the citizens of Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. Bob heads Liberty Guard, a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.