When politics is weaponized, our democracy suffers

As our nation moves from last year into this one, there is an understandable amount of trepidation for its future.

We seem divided at every turn, whether it be the worthiness of a Supreme Court nominee, how and whether to protect our borders or determining the length and depth of our military commitments on foreign soil.

In the past three months, we have seen the innocent until proven guilty pillar of our justice system jeopardized in a Supreme Court nominee’s hearing.

We have seen the nation’s southern border overrun by a caravan made up mostly of people seeking to enter the country for — at best — questionable reasons.

And we have seen open debate over the intended pullout of troops from Syria, a move triggered by the apparent defeat of ISIS, which months ago was applauded.

This combination of circumstances leads to understandable gloominess regarding our nation’s future.

Until we remember that this is the nature of our democracy. Democracy is hard. And ours has been hard for most of our nearly two and a half centuries of existence.

We, as a nation, run into problems when the political nature of our democracy overruns the practical side of it. When that happens — and it’s happening far too much right now — our democracy becomes nearly inoperable.

Reasonable people should be able to advocate for a well-run legal immigration system accompanied by full protection of our borders from those seeking illegal entry. But when politics become weaponized in an issue such as this, wall advocates are called racists and the government is shut down over $5 billion needed to fund the wall’s construction. All the while, the nation is spending $18.5 billion on health benefits for illegal immigrants.

In other words, rationality takes a holiday in the name of illogical politically-inspired thought.

Likewise, all of us would want our family members judged innocent until proven guilty. When the politics of hate takes over, we assume guilt of a Supreme Court nominee because it fits an agenda, never mind whether there is real proof of any of the allegations.

Instead of being thrilled at the defeat of ISIS, people who normally advocate for fewer troops abroad are in an uproar over the pullout of 2,000 troops from Syria. We should all hope this is the correct move and there is no need to return troops there.

For the year ahead, we can argue to our hearts delight, but we need to turn the heat down long enough to wonder logically what is best for our country, not what serves a political agenda.