What's gotten us where we are is the rise of dumbassery. Basically, as voters, we've given our elected leaders pretty much an open road to Idiotville. Not that this hasn't always been an issue, since our nation has a long and proud history of putting various dimwits in elected office (and, yes, including the White House). Matter of fact, our own Founding Fathers realized this and were concerned about the kind of jacklegs that might be elected in the several states. This was one of the reasons given for passage of the 17th Amendment.
But we seemed to have reached a new apogee (or perigee) in our national tolerance for the boneheaded, as if Ernest P. Worrell was suddenly plopped into power. Some enactments are outwardly offensive but, overall, relatively harmless, such as the ongoing effort to make the Bible the official state book of Louisiana. But others, such as the severe abortion clinic rules in Texas have huge and regressive effects on the general health of an entire state, flying in the face of well-established law, history, statistics and social success.
Oh, and our public schools are tanking too (despite the valiant efforts of so many). Creationism is crap. Stop using public money to teach our kids the world is only a few thousand years old. If you want your kid to be stupid, do it in your own church school on your own dime. We won't interfere. Promise.
I'm not sure which is more troublesome -- the idea that some legislators actually think it's a good idea to take us back to 1950 or there is enough electoral clout by a collection of dim-bulb voters to put them in office to do so. Each time I see something about another blatant voter-suppression effort, my jaw clanks to the floor and my eyes bug out like I'm in a Tex Avery cartoon. It's not that I object so much to someone having to show a photo ID before voting (though I do, if they've voted before) -- it's that I have serious issues with curtailment of early voting, poll hours and even allegedly but laughably serious excuses to just blocking the otherwise qualified from casting a ballot.
Similarly, I've learned to avoid anything or anyone referred to (usually by themselves) as a "patriot." This simple word has somehow morphed into a euphemism for "someone who has no clue how poorly the Articles of Confederation worked on a national basis, so we had to come up with a Constitution to keep from flying apart like loose bolts in a blender." The confrontation in Nevada this past week is a good example. Seriously? This isn't 1888, cowpoke. We're a nation with rules and laws and fees and, yes, sometimes they do tread on you. Yes, I own a firearm and, yes, I've raised cattle on family land so don't give me this "heritage" horse hockey. Only the good sense of government agents, faced with a lot of guns Obama didn't take away, prevented things from getting out of hand. Who's the thug now?
We are, these days, being jerked this way and that by a noisy minority that is, thankfully, fading from our national control room. It is not going quietly, nor should we expect so. But I think the more we, as voters, can ignore the noise and demand the same from our elected leaders, the faster the exit process will be. It's the job of our representatives to make tough choices and explain it the best they can. Otherwise, our national decline will continue.
....but it's going to be a rough ride.