Up North And Personal: The Great Divide
By Ken DeLaat
There are no more disagreements I fear.
Instead there are chasms of unrelenting divisiveness creating a discomforting ‘us and them’ mentality throughout the land I love.
This is not earth-shaking news by any means. The rift has always been there to some degree. Look, in a democracy we’re allowed, nay even encouraged, to disagree. It is the very dialogue of dissimilarity and exchange of ideas that...
...led to this wild experiment called democracy to begin with. If we accept the notion that no one is ever right all the time or possesses all the answers (a notion, I might add, that seems to be challenged by some of the folks one encounters either in person or when prowling the pages of social media) then dialogue and compromise are the routes required toward arriving at the destination of decision-making and the creation of policy, correct?
And even beyond the need to come to some form of agreement on how to proceed is the whole notion of respect for the opinions of others.
Don’t get me wrong I am well aware that there has never been a lot of love lost between the two parties but what seemed to once be a kind of détente over political ideologies with some semblance of boundaries and limits has become a split of epic proportions into two distinct camps that are rife with a number of sub sects who pull and push a paranoid program of deep seated distrust in anyone who dares differ.
In my experience most of these folks aren’t interested in a dialogue…. they just want an audience.
All seemingly driven by the dark and caustic side of social media in partnership with some of the ultra-biased so-called news networks who plug along with a dearth of efficacy equal to the most base of any of the sensationalized tabloids. Cooperating, unintentionally perhaps, to tap into fear. The kind of fear folks feel when focused on the horrendous and frightening things that are happening daily in our world and perpetually presented in a way to make us seem to exist on the edge of a collapse into a dystopian world rife with chaos. The fear that brings you to the only place that feels emotionally safe.
Ah yes, the power of anger.
Particularly the self righteous, ‘I know I’m in the right’ anger.
You want to stir up some serious B.S.?
Get people peeved.
Being a Boomer, the age group who are the children of what is called The Greatest Generation (think about living up to that kind of legacy) it’s easy to recall the anger of the 60’s when young and old (but really, mostly young by far) took to the streets to protest what they felt was ineffective and unresponsive leadership. It was primarily youth-based and youth- led with the ‘never trust anyone over 30’ mindset prevailing among the disenfranchised.
This youthful anger for most of us gave way to getting on with life. We married, had children took on careers and jobs of one kind or the other and went forward.
Politically? The Democrats grabbed a post-Watergate opportunity for one term, then the GOP had a 12 year run. The “It’s the Economy, Stupid’ slogan propelled Dems into a pair of terms after which came 2000 and a race so close and filled with controversy that it had to be decided by the Supreme Court and the country got a Republican. 8 years later it was time to make another change in the White House and the country voted to allow a Democrat back in for a couple of terms.
If I recall none of these elections brought forth the Apocalyptic vision being currently predicted should the wrong candidate find their way to the White House.
Now somewhere in this process an erosion of any sense of collaboration began and has festered, spurred on by the popularity of media charlatans who fan the flames of anger and take the easy route of simplistic solutions served up with snarky superiority.
Mistrust and profound disappointment manifested itself into a new wave of voter disenchantment leading to the sudden inclusion of so-called ‘outsiders’ who pander to the fringes by refusing to compromise and, instead of helping us to come together as a country, are aiding and abetting the ever-widening rift while bringing absolutely nothing to the table but a rather pathetic need for self-preservation.
They are, as my Texas kinfolk would say, “All hat and no cattle”.
And so here we are. A nation not so much divided in our opinions anymore but huddled into crowded camps, an exclusionary existence that hardly creates an atmosphere conducive to the possibility of achieving any level of creative cooperation and subsequent progress. We’ve regressed from “never trust anyone over 30’ to ‘never trust anyone who doesn’t think like I do’.
Conservative? Liberal? These meaningless handles that some seem to use to define themselves hold little significance for me personally. And no political party, those duplicitous entities existing only to promote a misguided notion that what is good for the party is good for my country, can claim me as a member.
So when it comes to securing my vote? One of the ‘independent’ ‘undecided’ folks who can hold sway in close elections?
My expectations for any elected official are high and I make no apology for that. If you are to make your living in the well compensated employ of the citizenry it’s your duty to be competent and capable at the very least so when it comes to performing the task of governing you must have the ability to work through differences and hopefully even think beyond what your party folks are telling you.
Please spare me the platitudes and contrived indignation that so often arises in folks wanting to capture some measure of relevancy or spur their personal popularity and strive to give me a little true statesmanship now and then. Perhaps, if within your grasp, even show some genuine leadership, the ever-elusive elusive quality that many claim but very, very few possess.
But most of all I’d truly love to see just a flicker of willingness to perform the task of representation instead of merely focusing on public relations.
I mean really, is that too much to ask?
Unfortunately when I gaze at the slate of candidates we seem to be all too often presented with I think ……..
Perhaps it is, indeed, far too much to ask.
“The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation.” -James Freeman Clarke
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