Valley Voices

Maybe it’s party time, friends – third party, that is

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump supporters and protesters verbally clash after a rally for Trump in Wilmington, N.C., Tuesday Aug. 9, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump supporters and protesters verbally clash after a rally for Trump in Wilmington, N.C., Tuesday Aug. 9, 2016. AP

About 70 years ago, some of us “long in the tooth” folks were engaged in a worldwide conflict to decide whether or not our democratic form of government was to survive. The alternative was to have governmental decisions made by tyrannical dictators whose unilateral decisions contained no provisions for compromise with others of opposing positions.

As we all know, the combined efforts of the free world prevailed and the inalienable right of its people to come together to make mutually acceptable decisions on issues of international importance was preserved.

Now our nation is witnessing its own internal conflict. The consensus voice of our democratic society has become secondary to the polarized and uncompromising positions on both sides of the political spectrum.

The definition of political leadership is becoming blurred into a jumbled montage of posturing, print media attention and TV and radio sound bites. What has become embarrassingly absent in the minds of a majority of our citizenry is the integrity of individual and cumulative political stewardship.

The economic and social status of this country is being held hostage by a few prominent attention-seeking politicians and their “me too” associates. Neither faction has indicated a willingness apart from unacceptable caveats to the other side to move off of its extremist stance and negotiate from a stewardship posture to resolving differences.

Democracy thrives when citizens of differing opinions are willing to come together behind steward leadership on both sides. Democracy dies when citizens accept the decisions of self-anointed leaders who are unwilling to arbitrate their differences.

Nationwide polls reveal that our populace is overwhelmingly disappointed with the members of our governmental bodies who were elected to represent them in conducting their government’s affairs.

Regretfully, when the time arrives for them to act together as a responsible governing body, they fail to function effectively. What becomes a missing link is the stewardship factor to remind them of their responsibilities to the whole and underscore to them their interdependence upon each other.

For all too many of our disillusioned citizen patriots, it would seem that their political leaders prefer the creation of a political stalemate to the necessity of constructive problem-solving. Nationwide polls are telling us that voters are becoming ever more convinced that the time has come to say enough is enough!

This is an important political year in the United States. Candidates for re-election or election to public office are being forced to undergo a high-resolution litmus test. To win office, they will be expected to exhibit the characteristics of stewardship built into the Bill of Rights by the Founding Fathers of this great nation.

With our nation’s birth came the responsibility of proving to the world that free men and women had the wisdom to elect those qualified fellow citizens who would place the country’s overall welfare first in their decision making.

We are beginning to witness a growing body of men and women from throughout this land who proudly call themselves Americans. They are casting aside their feelings of despair to come forward to reawaken the entire country to the fact that our government has existed for more than 200 years because we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people who will follow those who have demonstrated that they have within them what we here at home call our statement of community values, also known as stewardship.

This nation is at a crossroads. For all too many, the question is whether or not our existing political party structure can recapture the confidence of the electorate. Can their leaders demonstrate that they have the internal integrity required to fulfill their responsibilities?

The alternative before us is quite simple. Is it the creation of a new political party comprised of a nationwide body of stewardship-oriented consensus builders capable of reaching mutually acceptable solutions to complex issues? To pose the question another way, is it party time?

Richard A. Johanson is chair emeritus of the Fresno Business Council and founder of Johanson Transportation Service of Fresno.