Every morning I read five or six newspapers/websites. In papers like The Washington Post and The New York Times I’m curious about the articles that have generated the most comments from the readership. They often provide a snapshot of American discontent. I read the articles, then go to the “comments” section. I preselect the “Reader’s Picks” because I think this gives me a glimpse of the general tenor of the readership who agree with another reader who cares enough about the article to take the time to express themselves about it. Sometimes those comments coincide with the editorial board members who also pick their favorite comments.

On December 15, 2021 the weekly New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall wrote a story titled How to Tell When Your Country Is Past the Point of No Return. I found the article pretty thought-provoking, so I was curious about the readers comments. Below are the ones that the most readers, including the Times editorial board, agreed with most. The sentiments expressed in the comments says a lot about what issues a good portion of Americans find disturbing, and why.

James Landi commented December 15 Camden Maine Times Pick  An excellent public education system is the absolute necessary cornerstone for a strong foundation of democracy. So sad to say, but we have a government reflecting this structural weakness. I began my teaching career over fifty years ago, and by the early 80s, when Reagan’s blue ribbon national education assessment committee presented “A Nation At Risk,” I, having been a school man by then for over 15 years, needed no convincing. ●Our children are distracted, ●our teachers worn down, and ●our education system is underfunded, underappreciated, and, for decades, good teachers have been fighting a losing battle for kids’ attention. Now we have a new crop of elected officials who are happily engaged in destroying the very foundations of our constitution democracy— the result of ●self-serving, ●power grasping, ●ignorant, ●arrogant “lawmakers” who are representing ●several generations of Americans who don’t have the intellectual power to know the difference.  34 Replies, 1884 Recommended

GI Doc commented December 15  Nashville Times Pick  A pandemic did not mobilize sufficient political will to restructure our absurd healthcare system, Sandy Hook did not mobilize sufficient political will to address ●our absurd gun fetish, and–so far– a violent coup to subvert a free and fair election has not mobilized sufficient political will to strengthen the absurd and obvious weak points in our democracy. Point of no return? More like point of no escape. In those examples above, and many others, take a moment to reflect upon ●which faction of our wide political spectrum is responsible for this toxic inertia. ●Clearly one step in the right direction would be to get money out of politics, but in the meantime, I ask these businesses with their heft of lobbying powers that have traditionally sided with said faction–is it good for business to have a country in such precarious disarray? What does the constant fear of political violence do for consumer confidence? Please don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.  48 Replies,  1881 Recommend

David commented December 15  Canada,  Times Pick,  So, how many countries have adopted a system like the U.S., not any I can think of. ●Two parties unable to compromise on anything. A country ●where small populations have the same power are much larger ones. The ●ability to change the voting game depending on who is in power. ●Money, money money flowing through the system. ●A system where some get elected and then have to spend most of their time trying to get re-elected rather than serving the people. Get real …no one has a perfect system but yours is unraveling fast…change is the answer…are there any leaders among you to pick up the torch?  52 Replies, 1482 Recommend

Uncle Jetski commented December 15  Moorestown, NJ, In Bush v Gore, we stood down out of respect for the institution of the Supreme Court. In 2016, we stood down out of respect for the Electoral College. We will not stand down again.  33 Replies, 1428 Recommend

Tom J. commented December 15 Berwyn,Times Pick, My point of no return was the period between the onset of COVID through the Jan. 6 attack on the capitol. I can’t forgive without some olive branch from the other side and there has been none. Perhaps others are kinder and more forgiving than me, good for you. I’m done with them.  18 Replies, 1215 Recommend

Rick commented December 15  Cedar Hill, TX Times Pick, The elephant in the room is big money. Both parties are own and controlled by it and until that problem is corrected nothing will change, it is that simple. Seems no one wants to address the hard problem. You don’t vote, you don’t get.  21 Replies, 1161 Recommend

Michael commented December 15 Hatteras Island, Times Pick, Not sure how anything can or will change except to continue our current trajectory. The internet has unveiled what we are. A nation of ●violence, ● lies, ●superficiality, ●propaganda, and ●a fixation on all things money. There is no ‘fix’. We’re operating on autopilot.  16 Replies, 1079 Recommend

Ethan Allen commented December 15  Vermont, The academic analyses quoted here all discuss the theoretical steps and indicators that a tipping point is being reached, in language that suggests the authors are unaware that all the things they describe have not already happened. But they have indeed already happened, which to a sentient reader implies that we have already reached – and likely gone far beyond – this point of no return. The time to write these calls to urgent action was twenty years ago, when Republicans first began to openly disassemble America’s democracy. Their project to make minority rule permanent has been going on at least twice that long, but they have been brazenly acting in the open for at least two decades, when the critical alarm should have been sounded. I’m sorry but all these pleas for the population to take note of incremental damage to our democracy and way of life ring very hollow when the clock is already at one minute to midnight.  13 Replies, 1054 Recommend