The Essence of the Problem

As Fareed Zakaria wrote last weekend in the Washington Post:

The real issue is that the United States has become deeply polarized, and each side wants to believe the worst slander and lies about the other. And undeniably this phenomenon is far more prevalent on the right than the left.

As another commentator mentioned the other day, American politicians have ceased to look at members of the other party as “worthy adversaries” in the arena of bettering the country. Instead they are now demonized as “the enemy” or the “opposition” to be bitterly defeated no matter the cost to the country.

Notice the signs that were brought by the Republicans to the George Kent and Bill Taylor public hearings yesterday. Although it’s a standard congressional hearing practice, is that the conduct expected at something as serious as the impeachment hearings of a president concerning foreign policy and national security matters? They weren’t there to objectively get information from clearly patriotic and dedicated public servants. They were there to walk the party line in defense of the indefensible conduct of this president (who is damaging our democracy and national security). Not to mention the outlandish opening statement by Devin Nunes filled with lies and outrageous conspiracy theories.

Horrible partisanship consumes America’s politics, and the problem is far worse on the right than the left. This is the essence of the country’s problem.

2 thoughts on “The Essence of the Problem

  1. Sorry for missing all your previous posts. I’ll go back and re-read them.

    It’s hard to say whether these trends are all new or not. Part of me thinks this is all part of the information age, where we can all live inside our information bubbles and hear only the conversations we want to hear. Our current President has taken a cultural leap forward accelerating use of technology to directly communicate with citizens. This was an inevitable step, but from a very unlikely person in a very unlikely manner.

    Has there been a time when we were all civil? Watching back to Presidential debates from the 50s through the 80s, I’d say yes. But the turn of the 19th century and even the 18th century had pretty ugly competitions and campaigns. Congress in the Civil War was pretty uncivil.

    I think the best step forward for our country is a President who can set the example by reaching across the aisle. Reagan was pretty good at that. Other Presidents much less so. The most recent partisan divide began with Newt Gingrich in the 90’s attacking the Clinton administration. It’s all gone downhill from there.

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    • Howdy! So, this post is not about whether we are being civil or not. We can be uncivil, but at least still be productive, cross party boundaries, and work to accomplish smart legislation in Congress, and many historians would argue that this is one of the worst periods of partisanship at least in recent memory.

      To be fair, there have been times of great divide in the country. The pre-Civil War era saw actually fights occur in Congress (one legislator beat another with his cane). But that led to a Civil War and cost 600,000 dead. Should we look to that for comfort? The 1960s were wrought with division, and it was a pretty bleak era. Should that provide comfort? I think not.

      I think if we look to past for hope in fixing our political division, it shows it was only fixed by a terrible wars, economic crises, or just waiting out the storm. That’s I push for further productive action.

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