LETTER: Citizens send mixed signals

To the editor:

In his fine column of Nov. 19, Robert Lee described a society in peril, that has lost its way, and touched upon divisions in American society.

He may be right, but — at least politically — citizens are not sending their leadership clear signals for finding a way forward. Let’s explore one pathway from his offering.

Through changed presidencies over some four decades, we have meandered into boom times and recessions, into military conflicts, and fretted over sticky social policies like abortion, same-sex marriage, marijuana, immigration — often without clear, satisfactory consensus. Within the past decade, we twice elected a progressive Democrat to lead our government, only to saddle him with a Congress bent on checkmating him at nearly every turn.

The impasse only continues in 2016. The presidential popular vote said one thing, but the electoral college dictated another. Oh yes, good ol’ Electoral College — where popular vote ‘parents’ usually prevail but, occasionally, some rascally fun frat guy storms the campus, pushes them aside and gets to run the show, a la 2000 and 2016. We’ll just have to survey the landscape and straighten up later.

The mixed signals extend from us in the Tarheel state, too. While voters clearly want a very conservative legislature, we also seem to desire — albeit less clearly — a progressive Democratic executive and state Supreme Court to exercise some check on that body. There are some rumblings that legislative solons may try to add two seats to that court. The GOP leadership would do well to clear the thick dust from their history books and read the chapter about Franklin Roosevelt’s 1937 attempt to pack the U.S. Supreme Court. That effort blemished an otherwise great presidency.

Mr. Lee and I disagree often, agree occasionally, but, we always join in rooting for this great country of ours.

Douglas H. Smith