Away from home and Facebook for a month, I have been observing our politics and governance and continue to be dismayed by its shallow, polarizing content.

The usual gridlock as Congress attempts to forge a new budget deal. About time to reach one as our federal debt is now 20 times larger than in the 1990s. Our debt now equal to our GDP—-the situation of Third World countries on the edge of default. More unwise borrowing and spending than we should tolerate. Forget placing blame on one party or the other. Both to blame. Awareness and leadership lacking.

Hollywood writers and autoworkers continue on strike, although it seems the Hollywood types may be nearer a settlement. Nothing like the widespread labor disruptions of time past but important now to our culture and economy. President Biden scheduled to join a Detroit picket line this week. As if….

Ukraine continues its brave resistance to the Russian invasion. Putin will not come to a settlement until and unless he is convinced there is no other way out. That means U.S. and NATO support must continue at peak level before Western patience and public support run out. Zelensky continues to make our own leaders look pale. Ukraine is not Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. It is vital to stability and peace in central Europe and a signal to totalitarians elsewhere with territorial ambitions.

We remain fixated on the Trump/Biden political difficulties and the prospects of a rerun in 2024. I continue to feel that neither will be the nominee of his party next year. A majority of both parties’ voters continue to want another nominee. Trump will continue to be faced with legal troubles and will continue to duck debates and other matchups inolving other Republicans. A TV debate coming up this week. House GOP moving inexorably toward a Biden impeachment, although reluctantly and not wanting to repeat the one-party Dem impeachments of Trump. Sworn testimony and documentation will make it difficult for President Biden and family to avoid same. The logical action by Biden would be a declaration of non-candidacy for 2024. His health and accuity clearly are at issue in any case. Impeachment fever would then recede as no one in either party wants to risk a Harris presidency for even a short, interim period. Difficult weeks ahead as both Biden and Trump try to cope with their futures. Off to the side, Sen. Menendez again under legal fire in N.J., senior incumbent Senators coping with age and failing faculties. Romney of Utah foreswears a reelection campaign and improbably calls them out. Our country badly needs a fresh start wtih fresh leadership.

I suggest for your reading list American Midnight by Adam Hochschild—a well-researched history of the turbulent period after Teddy Roosevelt until Warren Harding. Violence, government repression, class warfare, raw racism, colonialism, foolish governance, the rise of totalitarian movements. Hard now but far harder then.

Ted Van Dyk is an author and former government official with a long history of involvement in public policy and international affairs. His career includes work as an intelligence analyst at the Pentagon; as director of the Washington, D.C., public affairs office of the European Communities (now the European Union); and as a policymaker in the Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter administrations, where he coordinated U.S. foreign assistance programs. He is a lifelong Democrat currently living in his hometown of Bellingham, Washington. With his permission, I occasionally feature his Facebook posts. Scroll through and enjoy.