This fall when President Obama returned Mount Denali to its original Native name, I took the opportunity to review this administration’s accomplishments that led Native chiefs to say that this president had done more for Native American tribes “than the last five presidents combined.”
I heard back from a lot of my friends and readers that they had never heard about most of those accomplishments before. In many ways, that is because Native Americans have become the invisible minority in this country. While it’s true that in some quarters it has become fashionable to appropriate Native culture, we rarely notice the challenges actual people face on a day-to-day basis.
But there is another reason why we haven’t heard those stories. We all know that our media is consumed with discussing conflict and failures. Successes are usually limited to feel-good stories about an heroic individual. Talk of government or systemic progress has become passe. And then we wonder why the American public has become so angry and cynical. It is why Marilynne Robinson, in discussing the dangerous way that fear has taken over our politics, said this:
Most of the things we do have no defenders because people tend to feel the worst thing you can say is the truest thing you can say.
My passion for writing about politics is in many ways inspired by my small efforts to correct that imbalance. It is true that there are many ways that our government needs to be improved (and our politics these days is beyond dysfunctional). It is important to keep working to make it better.
But it is also true that every day we all depend on a functioning government. In addition, there are thousands of lives that are made better every day due to various government programs and initiatives. It is important to tell those stories too.
If you join me in recognizing the importance of bringing some balance to our conversation about government and politics, I ask you to take a moment right now to make a financial contribution to Washington Monthly. That’s what makes this all possible. Thank you!