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Our orbit of outrage

We’re approaching the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Neil Armstrong’s “one small step” onto the lunar surface was indeed a “giant leap for mankind.”

The successful Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 is one of the great achievements in history, a dramatic nexus of technology and human will.  The mission was a grand culmination of President John F. Kennedy’s pledge eight years earlier.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win,”  Kennedy said on May 25, 1961.

The Apollo missions were not just about pushing human and scientific boundaries. They also had critical military applications because of the Cold War conflict with the Soviet Union. The U.S trailed the Soviets in the early years of the space race and thinking was the first country to gain the upper hand in space would have a significant military advantage over the other.

The Apollo mission came to mind as I was thinking about President Trump’s controversial tweets aimed at four liberal Democratic members of Congress. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it’s done,” the President tweeted.

Now average Americans must again choose up sides; either defend the President while attempting to parse a more acceptable meaning to his nativist trope or condemn him as a raging racist.  There doesn’t seem to be any safe middle ground here unless one chooses to not pay attention to any of it.

And that’s nearly impossible, between social media and the 24/7 news cycle. I’ll continue to talk about it on my radio show because, well, I’m a talk show host. For the record, I found the President’s comments ignorant and bigoted.  However, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m growing weary of it all.

Fox News Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt wrote, “As our Founders feared, and has been true before, energies of faction have dulled the interests of too many members of government to any purpose beyond their immediate advancement. ‘Complete and total catastrophe’ sounds about right for such a conflagration of poltroons as that.”

This is the cycle now.  Someone says or does something that others perceive as outrageous or offensive and off we go.  People react and then others react to the reaction. The hyper-emotional arguments get the most attention, but nothing comes of it.  Our country’s psyche just ends up with more wounds.

Contrast that with the lunar landing.  That was an accomplishment for the ages, the seminal example of what the best and brightest can achieve through great determination and consensus of the mission.

We need to do better. We could use a modern-day version of Apollo 11, a small step by tens of millions of Americans—primarily our President, the rest of the political class and opinion leaders—toward civility, comity, mutual respect, consensus, rational thinking and higher goals that lead to a giant leap for the nation.

Otherwise, instead of a moon landing we get a continuous orbit of outrage.


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