I spent a couple months this summer cranking out a fictional first person blog. The premise was the southern states seceded from the United States. That story came from a real place. The US needs a divorce. The cause: Irreconcilable Differences.
Does anyone reading this think the GOP and Democrats can find common ground? And not just common ground, but common ground that benefits the nation? Consider what we need to achieve as a country: good paying jobs for the middle class, a ladder for those in poverty to work their way up, affordable healthcare, affordable education, clean energy, fair taxation, a reasonable and consistent foreign policy, infrastructure. Do you see the two sides working these issues out?
I have for years blamed FOX News for the schism in America, and I am certain they are contributors to our deepening divide. But people have minds of their own. They can choose reason over fallacy. And so conservatives are choosing politicians and policies of obstruction because they prefer it. As in the 1960s when conservatives huddled together and fought racial inequality, so they are huddling together in this new world their politicians created, the world of barrier-free international trade, and they are trying to stop progress. They want what they perceive as the tried and true way, capitalism, the collection of wealth in the hands of a few men, men whom they trust on some deep level, I believe, will keep power within this nation and protect them. In this sense, conservatives are very much like the tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan; they want warlords, protectors, security in the familiar. Meanwhile, liberals are craving change. They want to visit the New World. They want to shape it. They want to be part of it, all of them together. Theirs isn’t the rush forward of a few wealthy individuals as the masses trail behind. Liberals believe we’re all in this together.
Research has shown that at their core conservatives and liberals view the world differently. Conservatives are resistant to change. They prefer the tried and true, while liberals pursue change. The tried and true bores them. These differences are what has made America a dynamic and powerful nation. When our two sides of the brain talked to one another, when those synapses were sparking left to right and right to left, we were able to achieve amazing things without stepping off the ledge. But these two hemispheres no longer talk. They became adversaries, and not even 9-11 could change that for more than a few months. Sadly, it only made things worse.
After the Twin Towers went down, we were told Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The data wasn’t there; there were no such weapons. But George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld went on national TV and stated there was irrefutable proof of a WMD program. Mainstream media called them on it, stated the proof wasn’t there, while FOX backed the administration all the way to Baghdad. As we rolled into Iraq, half the country believed the lie, half did not. The country split further in two, as it remains.
How many conversations have you had with someone who holds diametrically-opposed political views as you, and how did that work out? Was it a pleasant a spirited conversation or one you wish you had never entered into?
The country we live in is now divided down the middle. We distrust each other. We distrust facts unless they come from “our” media outlet. And if we can’t agree on the facts, then solutions will remain allusive. So remains the question no one wants to contemplate: It is over?