Americans' eroding trust in all forms of government has made it impossible to solve the most serious problems facing the United States today, former Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote in a recent article for The Atlantic.

The retired Marine Corps general laid out why the world's oldest democracy no longer seems to be able to reach a consensus on any issue, arguing that the underlying problem is politicians no longer debate: They just launch personal attacks against each other.

"We scorch our opponents with language that precludes compromise," Mattis wrote. "We brush aside the possibility that a person with whom we disagree might be right. We talk about what divides us and seldom acknowledge what unites us. Meanwhile, the docket of urgent national issues continues to grow—unaddressed and, under present circumstances, impossible to address."

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V.A. photography by Robert Turtil

On Sept. 7, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs held “From Tumult To Transformation,” a hearing to review the Commission on Care’s 18-point final report presented to the president via the VA secretary last June. Despite some solid recommendations, such as consolidating community care and revamping the VA’s antiquated IT system, the controversial decision to create a board of directors to govern the VA gained the most attention — a decision that will only reinforce the status quo at the VA and will further add to the politicization of this agency.

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