Guest Column by Ralph Massullo  |  Citrus County Chronicle

Navigating in fog is extremely difficult because fog reduces our ability to see things clearly, even when they may be right in front of us.

Literal fog is caused by moisture in the atmosphere near the ground at certain temperatures; however, we often use the term “fog” allegorically to describe any situation that prevents us from seeing or understanding clearly. This politically season is one where we are experiencing a good bit of fog, but unlike the weather, this fog is created by several factions in our society vying to sway us into voting one way or another. As Americans it is our duty to attempt to see through this fog and be as informed as possible on facts, rather than anyone’s opinion or innuendo.

To accomplish that task we need to research for truth, fact check statements, and develop some understanding of history and human nature. All of that may be more difficult today than it has been in the past because of the many sources of conflicting information bombarding us, but it is nevertheless vital to maintaining our republic.

In the past our country grew and succeeded with leaders who through civil debate where each side would find either commonality or at least some reasonable compromise that would not only be acceptable to them, but more importantly, benefit the citizens whom they were elected to serve. Unfortunately today, our society has become so polarized that we are at risk of not being able to reach any meaningful agreement. If we cannot, all of us and our children and subsequent generations will suffer dearly.

We need to cut through the fog and change course while we are still able. Understanding each other’s philosophies and having empathy for each other, even when we disagree, will move us in a safer direction and away from danger. Philosophy can be somewhat complex, but it basically breaks down to how we view reality and how we respond to it. The question is always, what is reality? If Republicans are conservatives who believe in limited government and individual rights and freedoms and Democrats are liberals who believe in government taking a more direct role in people’s lives in order to promote a better society, how can they find common ground and agreement? They can when they see reality clearly, as it truly exists, and that is where history comes into play.

America is and has always been a “center-right” country where the freedom of the individual is extremely important. Two hundred forty four years ago we fought a revolution to gain our independence from a controlling power and the founders of our great nation established that America would always be a nation governed by and for the people. Also, through time the people have recognized the need for government to provide security against foreign powers and facilitate the health or welfare of its citizens. Our young country is the most powerful and wealthiest nation on earth by maintaining that delicate balance.

If America is to continue to exist, we need to protect that fragile balance and understanding our history and the world’s history plays a major role in that effort. As we look at different societies throughout time that have either descended into socialism, communism or totalitarian control, they have all ultimately failed. They all failed because their philosophy, their view of reality, was flawed because it did not understand our true human nature.

This world is not and will never be a utopia, because we humans have some innate characteristics that preclude us from achieving that perfect society in ourselves. We are all somewhat self-centered and while it may be a bit of a protective or defensive part of our character, it prevents us from being totally altruistic and resistant to being told what to do. Some of the earliest behavior we see in young children is a tendency to be selfish and defiant. We were also made to work and have purpose and when we do not, we become aimless, unmotivated, unproductive, and depressed.

The experiment of the American political system has been successful when we have accounted for those traits and we have fallen short when we have not. It is a key tool for us to see through the fog of rhetoric, policies and promises. That type of discernment is critical and we need to start looking with the light of those truths regarding how we vote if we are to see through the fog and choose our future leaders wisely.

For example, if we consider the War on Poverty, where we have spent more money than all our other wars combined and yet have make little impact, it is because of a failure to recognize and address those traits in our human nature. Going forward our policies for safety nets and programs need to be more like trampolines where people can bounce out rather than fly paper that keeps people stuck and dependent, sometimes for generations.

For the same reasons providing too much “free stuff” and forgiving debt obligations, particularly for the more impressionable youth, is counterproductive. It is a disincentive to work and promotes a sense of entitlement as well as dependence. A terrible side effect of our getting off track is disrespect for authority and other people including their property and possessions which leads to anarchy and a blatant aversion to law and order.

Alternatively, Americans have always been able to demonstrate ingenuity and ability to succeed when they are unburdened of arbitrary regulations and rewarded for achievement and hard work. Compassionate capitalism, where people matter, where high-paying jobs are produced, where responsible investments exist that foster growth and technological developments, where taxes are low and productivity is high, and where the community takes the best care of those in need is and has always been the most successful of any form of government. That should be the definition of America!

There are many issues facing our community, state and nation today and many well-meaning and not so well-meaning people asking for your vote to help solve them. Regardless of their particular personalities, the words they use, the promises they make, or the platitudes they promote, the truth is only those who have a keen understanding of human nature and the American experiment will be able to be successful in continuing the changes we need in education, healthcare, commerce, defense, and protecting our environment.

Personally, I love this country and the fact that we are one nation under a great and merciful God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We are the greatest nation on earth and while we are not perfect and have made many mistakes along the way, we can learn from them and be better because of them. It is our responsibility as citizens to vote. Please take it seriously. Block out the noise and propaganda, study the facts, search hard for truth, ask serious questions and demand answers, and look through the fog.

Dr. Ralph Massullo represents District 34 in the Florida House of Representatives. He has degrees in industrial engineering and medicine.

Article last accessed here on October 19, 2020.