March 30, 2012 | Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

It has been a very busy week at the Supreme Court. Three days of arguments on the various challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act each merited front-page coverage in The New York Times. SCOTUSblog, the blog of the Supreme Court, received more than 800,000 hits in three days, which was more than the site has received in its first 4 years of existence. Regardless of the court's final ruling (expected on June 28th), the active engagement in our robust democratic politics of so many Americans and interested parties worldwide bodes well for the future of our way of life. Separation of powers, first described and promulgated by John Adams (second president of the United States) in his treatise, Thoughts on Government, Applicable to the Present State of the American Colonies, is alive and well.

It's easy to experience the ebbing of America's power. Our national political scene is a toxic partisan shambles. We have been severely depleted — our blood and treasure have been unthinkingly squandered in 10 years of geopolitically useless war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are beset by real threats to our welfare and continued existence —

  • Almost 60 million Americans without sufficient or any health insurance
  • Diabetes and obesity epidemics
  • A declining practical knowledge base reflected in plummeting science, math and reading achievement scores among students in middle school all the way through college
  • A crumbling infrastructure
  • Declining real income and lack of employment opportunities
  • Severe environmental problems, including air and water pollution, profound soil erosion, and endemic losses of groundwater; and our ongoing, crippling dependence on fossil fuels, particularly foreign oil.

And yet the vast majority of our national political conversation is focused on matters of cultural differences, These often rabid fulminations involve real meanness of one group toward non-group members and have nothing to do with the critically important issues that threaten our survival.

In this pervasive national atmosphere of "dumb, dumber, and dumbest", the refreshing participation of large numbers of Americans in the process of democracy unfolding before us provides much more than a ray of hope. Clint Eastwood's "Half-Time in America" Super Bowl spot, sponsored by Chrysler, spoke to our resilience, our abilities, and the depth of our commitment to do right.

It seems that many of us, hopefully the majority, are very desirous of getting our precious and beloved democracy back on its feet. A large part of what such a resurgence entails is providing sustenance to those in need. We must reinvigorate our national spirit of generosity and expansion. With the Supreme Court on the center stage of all media outlets this week, highlighting the very best of our democratic traditions, it may be that the process of reengaging with our true purposes as Americans has begun.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

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BIOETHICS TODAY is the blog of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, presenting topical and timely commentary on issues, trends, and breaking news in the broad arena of bioethics. BIOETHICS TODAY presents interviews, opinion pieces, and ongoing articles on health care policy, end-of-life decision making, emerging issues in genetics and genomics, procreative liberty and reproductive health, ethics in clinical trials, medicine and the media, distributive justice and health care delivery in developing nations, and the intersection of environmental conservation and bioethics.