The world as has changed and progressed over the last 250 years in miraculous ways, in no small part because of the United States. American exceptionalism is more than a campaign slogan it is reality. We have been the envy of the world for good reason. We have been the greatest creator of wealth, freedom and innovation the world has ever seen. It now seems the United States of America has lost the ability to do big things! Big ideas and bold moves take statesmen, not politicians; patriots, not partisans. Partisans lust for small victories, patriots yearn for lasting change. Partisans see things in stark terms of winning and losing, patriots know that the lack of broad vision and compromise makes us all losers. Petty politics kills vision, retards progress, stymie’s innovation and leaves a stain on history. We have been here before and it wasn’t pretty. No one talks about the impeachment of Andrew Johnson as the good old days. Neither do we reflect with fondness on the McCarthy era.
Every era thinks the politics of their time is worse than it used to be, However as we can see from these Gallup numbers , things really are worse than they have been,
“The results of this analysis certainly support the conclusion that Americans’ party identification has become an increasingly powerful lens through which they view the world around them, as Republicans and Democrats over the years have increasingly diverged in their opinions on a number of important policy and social issues. The reasons for this increased polarization are complex, but the implications are potentially profound. Elected officials, who themselves increasingly represent more polarized constituents, will find it harder to work in a bipartisan way to address challenges and develop policy solutions when the people of the country hold substantially differing positions based on their party identification.”
Not only is our partisanship making it hard to do big things or solve big problems, it’s literally making us ‘stupider’ The article is from 2014, but if haven’t read it yet you must! It’s a wake-up call!
“There’s a simple theory underlying much of American politics. It sits hopefully at the base of almost every speech, every op-ed, every article, and every panel discussion. It courses through the Constitution and is a constant in President Obama’s most stirring addresses. It’s what we might call the More Information Hypothesis: the belief that many of our most bitter political battles are mere misunderstandings. The cause of these misunderstandings? Too little information — be it about climate change, or taxes, or Iraq, or the budget deficit. If only the citizenry were more informed, the thinking goes, then there wouldn’t be all this fighting. It’s a seductive model. It suggests our fellow countrymen aren’t wrong so much as they’re misguided, or ignorant, or — most appealingly — misled by scoundrels from the other party. It holds that our debates are tractable and that the answers to our toughest problems aren’t very controversial at all. The theory is particularly prevalent in Washington, where partisans devote enormous amounts of energy to persuading each other that there’s really a right answer to the difficult questions in American politics — and that they have it. But the More Information Hypothesis isn’t just wrong. It’s backwards. Cutting-edge research shows that the more information partisans get, the deeper their disagreements become.”
So, what do we do if what to move past the tribalism of the day? Here’s some advice for both parties:
Republicans: Your silence is deafening We now know there will categorically be no pivot. Mr. Trump is not going to change and somehow emerge presidential. The Faustian bargain that was made with neo-nationalism and white identity politics is beneath the party of Lincoln. It has left the party weaker morally, intellectually and politically. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are not on the ballot again, you now own Mr. Trump: his tweets, his tantrums and his legacy. The good news is your party has an opportunity to speak truth to power void of partisan skepticism. Those who are brave like Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake, John McCain and others who speak out against this President will be remembered in history as patriots not partisans. Republicans are in the unique situation to restore credibility not only to their party but to the country by holding Mr. Trump to account. When we think back to Mr. Nixon and his disgrace, one of the stories we tell is that of Republican leaders who came to the President and told him he would need to resign, sparing the country from a nasty presidential removal. The country needs solid conservative ideas and principles. Those who help to shape and lead the party in the future will have to answer for which side of the Trump line they were on. Now is a great opportunity for leaders to emerge, for all conservatives to choose country over party, to choose the next generation over the next election.
Democrats: Your constant shouting is causing middle America to tune you out. If the last year has taught us anything it is that this party must do more to reach out and bridge the divide. Coastal elitism, perceived intellectual superiority and disdain for “flyover state voters” has real consequences. The left has to stop talking about wanting to help Walmart Americans by imposing their Whole Foods values on them. Middle class, poor, rural and suburban white voters aren’t stupid and can’t be dismissed. When you talk about “white privilege” much of this country hears you telling them they are lazy, racist and entitled. That may not be what you mean but that is what they hear. When you say, “Black Lives Matter,” many add an “only” in front even though you meant to add a “too” at the end. Your party must learn to stop talking down to people and instead talk to people not just talk about them. Democrats should resist Trump while not resenting his supporters. Democrats must resist the urge to give into the petty politics of the present and instead focus on the democratic principles that have made this country the envy of world.
No one thinks or expects that both parties will see things the same way. I love this quote from one of the greatest statesman of the 20th century, Adlai Stevenson “freedom rings where opinions clash.” The Constitution itself was based on the system of ambition versus ambition: you cut, I choose. What we do expect is that people who see things differently come together, find compromise, put country over party and work to solve the prevailing problems of our day. This will require compromise, integrity and principled leadership–not the tribalistic, dysfunctional, winner takes all shame fest our two party system has become.