Are we living in La La Land?

Our leaders are paralyzed as important issues spin out of control

Events over the last six months or so have made me wonder whether we live in a fictional universe. Things that seem to be obvious are now off-limits, rather simple solutions appear off the table, and repeats of past mistakes seem to be looming.

The abortion debate after the overturning of Roe v. Wade has seen a rash of rather extreme actions in various states and then federal courts. This puts the Supreme Court in a rather interesting position. It said the matter is up to the states, but now lower court decisions on the validity of approval of medications seem to be coming its way. It will be interesting to see if the court will demonstrate consistency in law or in ideology. While this writer considers any abortion to be a failure and a tragedy, I am reminded of that great conservative, Barry Goldwater, who said abortion is “none of the government’s G— d— business.”

The economy and debt ceiling, as well as the budget deficit and national debt, seem to be the subject of nonsensical debate.

On the one hand, Republicans, equally responsible for the problem, refuse to raise the debt ceiling without major concessions now, instead of as part of the budget process. On the other, President Biden claims not to want to talk about it at all if the ceiling is not raised.

The debt ceiling has to be raised, the parties have to discuss meaningful ways to address the deficit and debt, and Social Security and Medicare have to be on the table without nonsensical partisan accusations that doing so is intended to deprive people of their benefits instead of assuring them.

The debt and deficit are not going to be fixed without both cuts in spending and increases in revenue. Even officeholders should be able to figure this out.

The presidential races in both parties seem to be a recipe for a repeat of 2020. The GOP seems headed for another train wreck, with so many potential and declared candidates that former President Trump may win it with a plurality of the votes. The other candidates should consider carefully what splitting the vote may do to the party.

Trump, under indictment, investigation and defending a rape allegation in court, is more damaged goods than the last two times, if that is possible. The likelihood of enough independent voters voting for him to win is about zero, and yet the Republican Party may be about to follow him over the cliff again, when a solid Republican would seemingly have a good shot at winning.

The Democratic race is similarly problematic. President Biden is already the oldest in history, and will be 86 at the end of a second term. That is dangerous from an actuarial perspective.

A majority of people polled do not want Biden to run, but he is running and says Vice President Harris will return as his running mate. She does not seem to be a first choice for president, although voting for the Biden-Harris ticket might well be a vote for her for president.

In 1960, both presidential candidates were in their early to mid-40s. Reagan was considered old when he ran for re-election in 1984. Yet, here we are in this awkward situation. Maybe No Labels will figure out a way to run a third-party ticket.

Gun violence and mass shootings continue at a record pace, yet political leaders either appear powerless to do anything about it, or worse, propose legislation to provide added protection to owning and carrying weapons.

We have safety regulations on cars and require prescriptions for dangerous medication, have speed limits on highways and prohibit all kinds of other dangerous products and substances, yet proposing sensible restrictions on the kinds of weapons that are legal and who can use them produces hysterical reactions.

Wouldn’t it be smart, under these conditions, to frame the debate in a new way?

Should not some group propose repealing and replacing the Second Amendment? Other parts of the Constitution have been changed and another amendment was repealed, so if part of the Constitution is not working and an epidemic of deaths is a problem, should that not be the debate? In doing so, it would shift the debate and perhaps, just perhaps, produce some realistic compromise.

These things seem to paralyze politicians, but answers do not seem hard to find. It just takes courage.

Brad Cook is a Manchester attorney. The views expressed in this column are his own. He can be reached at

Categories: Cook on Concord