The political atmosphere in this country has now become so toxic that it is practically impossible to have a genuine conversation that results in a productive exchange of ideas. We have all become convinced that the other side is in league with the devil. The conversation is not about philosophical ideas of leadership, but about the Armageddon that awaits should the other side either remain in power or regain power. There is no political middle ground anymore. The President is a fairly moderate left leaning politician. What has that gotten him? The right thinks he's an African Manchurian candidate, anti-Christ. The left thinks he's a sell out with no backbone. That is what happens to you in today's climate if you attempt to walk down the middle of the road.
The real problem with this open animosity is that it allows the actual issues of the day to be pushed to the side in an all out attempt to win. You see the idea that the end of the world is nigh becomes the driving force behind all political action. Politicians use the most extreme language to describe the opposition in order to evoke a visceral reaction from their followers. The actual policies are not the important thing, the most important thing that voters take away from these demagogues is that if the opposition wins, their lives as they know it will be over. I could get into more complicated explanations about the backlash of white males and the similarities to the strategies employed by Nixon in '68 and even more forcefully in '72, but there really is no need. Both parties are guilty of overuse of hyperbole in describing the repercussions to America should their opponents be victorious in the next election.
Lost in all the noise is the actual policy. Which politician or political party is simply talking about what would be the most beneficial to the people of America? The political parties are too busy bashing each other over the head to seemingly pay much attention to that. The Good of the people (which has long since taken a back seat to the greed and ambition of politicians), seems to be absolutely missing from our political discussion these days. The sad thing is that the followers of both parties have allowed this to happen. We have all played a part in turning politics into just the next "thing" that we have to win. "Our side won, hurray"!, who cares whether it will actually help "We the People". Republicans were disappointed by George Bush, so what, at least he won 2 elections and God knows it would have been the end of the world if Al Gore had won. Those on the left are disappointed in Obama, but so what, at least we won and God knows it would have been the end of the world if John McCain had won.
The rhetoric and the hyperbole and the scare tactics have come to define political thought in our time. We no longer live in constant fear of nuclear annihilation, but apparently we have replaced that boogey monster with a new one called the OPPOSITION PARTY. It works for politicians because it allows them to whip their supporters into a frenzy without ever addressing any real issues. TV friendly soundbites are so much easier to come up with than actual policies and ideas to address the many real problems that we face. The part that's harder to understand is how WE the PEOPLE have allowed ourselves to become the standard bearers of and town criers for this sideshow. Perhaps it is just the fact that we need a mortal enemy in order to justify our own existence. I'm not sure what the answer is. I've certainly been guilty of it myself. But when I see and hear the noise that is generated by the media and the nonsense that is spewing forth from the mouths of our elected leaders, I just have to wonder if there's any road back from this. Is this it? Is this what our republic has come to? I think the quote "We have met the enemy and he is us" sums up my feelings.