Ok, I'm sure we're not the first to have contentious elections and fighting between parties. It's an historical fact that there have been some great party battles in the past, the Lincoln-Douglas debates for example. And it's true too that each generation always thinks that what is occurring in their own time unique. I mean it's the same with music every generation says "my music was good back in the day; but your music sucks." Without fail it happens in every generation. Politics is the same every generation thinks theirs was more civil and better than the last generation. "In my generation," they say, "We spoke to each other with civility, with grace." "We were able to work together even though we disagreed with one another," is the typical mantra.
But now I am going to do the same thing I just accused the people above of doing. I'm going to argue that our times are unique and the fight is unique and the discourse is unique. (There's an exception to every rule). I believe there are reasons for this; that forces have converged like the elements of a tornado, to form a destructive political whirl-wind. Here are the elements of our political tornado:
1. The historical election of an African-American President after years of slavery, Jim Crow and discrimination, and a country that has neither ended discriminatory practices nor healed from the past.
2. The economy- The severe economic collapse from which millions of Americans have suffered.
3. 9/11 and the wars- Perpetual warfare that is taking its toll on the country even though the battles are in distant lands.
4. The bailout- The resentment felt by many that the banks were bailed out while they continue to suffer; and even worse that the banks refuse to lend to re-start the economy after being bailed out by taxpayers.
5. Growing pains- Yes, growing pains. As a nation, we are growing and taking a new direction, a more multi-cultural and more inclusive direction. We are only a few hundred years old after all.
There is a great chasm in our country as a result of the above listed variables. This brings me to the present day. There seems to be a part of the country gripped in fear, and this fear has turned into absurdity manifested in crazy rhetoric--almost a comic play; theater of the absurd. It began with the formation of a "Tea Party," seemingly modeled after Revolutionary Patriots- but what often comes of looking extreme on every issue. Every day we hear outrageous statements from their sympathizers from the "right wing," and even some Representatives such as Senator Kyl's recent assertion that we should get rid of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Then there are the so called "Tea Party," candidates such as Ms. Sharron Angle of Nevada who have made "outrageous" an almost art form, with statements such as the BP fund set up as a result of the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico is a "slush fund."
Then there were the marches with the guns and the yelling at the President during a State of the Union address and on and on it goes. And then we have the birthers, ah yes, the birthers who practically make the President an alien or the subject of major plot hatched 40 some years ago to take over the country. And with the discussion of the Islamic Center in New York it has gotten completely out of hand!
It's just all so dramatic and outrageous. But does it need to be? Can the rhetoric be toned down? Can other party candidates be bi-partisan on at least some issues? Is it necessary to always have the great divide on every issue? Is it necessary to be so extreme? How do we end this great chasm?
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