In a recent talk with a friend, the thought was presented to me that it’s not politics that divides us, it’s our humanity, or lack thereof. I don’t know that it’s necessarily a lack of humanity. It’s a different set of values. It’s not inherently wrong, bad, evil, whatever…it’s just different. Different priorities. But to me, the biggest problem is that those two sets of values and priorities seem to be diametrically opposed, with no middle-ground compromise possible.
Take the refugee situation for example. One side would say that their opponents discriminate against persons they do not know in order to be better protected; the other side would say their opponents prioritize the protection of others over our own people. Replace the word ‘protection’ with any other — health, wealth, freedom. Two sides of a coin…never shall they meet. Because one side’s viewpoint is the antithesis to the other side’s viewpoint.
Sure, you can take either side to a negative extreme. But that doesn’t represent most people, who I tend to believe are inherently good. On the other hand, I’m having trouble seeing how there’s any middle ground. Each side would say that the other has fallen victim to extremist propaganda that prevents any kind of compromise. We’re not going to voluntarily move in their direction, and vice versa. I believe we have been dragged too far in their direction, and they feel the same in reverse. So — what to do??…….
It used to be that the two sides could debate and battle and then compromise. Dave Obey talked about spirited debates with rivals in Madison, where they gave each other hell but at the end of the day settled on something together in order to benefit the people, then had beer together afterward. Those days are long gone. And I don’t think they’re coming back. The rhetoric is too heated, there’s too much at stake, and we’re too far along separate paths on each side, evolving toward what we each believe to be a perfect ideal. Any concession to the other side is seen as compromising one’s core values.
Lincoln brought together various different factions in a coalition during the civil war — alliances that would have been unthinkable in pre-war times. This gave him hope for the eventual reunification of the entire country. He had a grand vision of unity. But I fear he only delayed the inevitable. There has and always will be two sides of the coin that is Man — individualist and humanist. And I think it would be…interesting…to see each ideology taken to its logical conclusion, in separate environments that befit each.
When we win, they fight. When they win, we fight. Why? What will fighting ultimately accomplish? We are two that can never be one. Our America is not their America. Our interpretation of freedom is not like theirs. When they feel more safe, we feel less safe. When they feel comfortable, we are uneasy. When we feel our values have been vindicated, they feel theirs have been violated. And on and on…the coin flips over and over…sometimes one side faces the sun, sometimes the other.