I can’t recall a time in my 60+ years on earth where the hatred between the Left and the right, the Republicans and Democrats was more intense than it has been the last few years. This hatred is manifested in almost every statement made by every politician, activist, or talking head. The main point of any speech is how terrible the other side is, and how we are going to fight them at every turn. It seems like members of congress get complaints that they don’t connect with their people, but when they do, at a town hall for example, the entire event is taken up by 14 year olds who feel that it’s their job to make sure said member isn’t allowed to speak. Instead of having a direct conversation, they shout some canned slogan, or even worse, one person shouts out something and the rest repeat it in unison like trained animals.
How did we get like this? When did “Hey, we lost, we’ll try to do better next time” become “This isn’t MY President”, or referring to an administration as “illegitimate”? Did it come from the practice of making sure every child on the soccer team got a trophy even if they played terrible? Or teachers going gradeless to improve the students on the bottom’s self esteem? Does making sure kids can’t lose cause this aggression toward the other side when they do?
There’s also the availability of tailoring our news and opinion feed to our beliefs and political agenda. (Using my old man voice) “Back in my day” we had a limited access to news. Radio stations in our area, our local paper(s), and local TV channels. That plus national news from the three networks. If we wanted news, we got what they gave. Does only getting our information only from people who agree with us cause us to want to shut down everyone who doesn’t? This seems to be reflected in some of the universities who won’t allow any speakers to appear unless they are left of center. or the case of the restaurant in Tuscon having to close to protect the safety of it’s workers because of backlash from a Facebook post promoting ideals that are usually associated with the right wing agenda. Oh, the right is just as guilty. Most evident was at ACA (“Obamacare”) town hall style meetings where right wing protesters shouted down speakers instead of listening to what they had to say then engaging them in intelligent conversation.
So where do we go from here? Does this get better? Or does it continue to split my country further and further apart? I don’t know. I always attempt to keep an open mind and listen to both sides (I’m pretty fiscally right leaning and socially left leaning myself), but my ideals aren’t written in stone. I have learned from my years of experience that more information is always better, even if that information contradicts my initial thoughts on a subject. I have changed my opinion on many subjects because of hearing the other side. I know there are others out there like me, but we aren’t the vocal ones. We don’t shout down dissenting opinions or march in the streets if we don’t get our way. How do we get heard? At one time I thought the Libertarian party was the answer, but I haven’t been able to get behind any of their candidates in a while. Plus in today’s environment I don’t see the two thirds of the voters who are aligned with the Republican or Democrat parties voting Libertarian anytime soon. Do we need another Bill Clinton? Someone who runs to the left then governs from the center? Or maybe a Republican who, despite of being labeled a “RINO”, works with the Democrats to get something done?
No Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore, but maybe we can get back home soon.