By John Hubbuch
It is tempting to blame President Trump for the toxicity of our current politics, but a little historical reflection suggests that he is merely the latest culprit. The degrading of civic discourse and red hot emotional partisanship has been going on for a very long time. Republicans blame the Democrats for starting it by "borking" Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork in 1987, and the Democrats blame the Republicans and their puppet master Newt Gingrich. Some trace it back to Vietnam in the 1960s.
I blame both political parties and the news media for fueling this dumpster fire. While most Americans bemoan the divisiveness, the two parties raise billions in contributions by stoking the fears of their bases, and Fox and MSNBC in their nightly worship service for their zealots draw ratings that power higher ad revenue. Each group is locked in a symbiotic septic embrace. Without Hannity, there is no Maddow.
Meanwhile, the people suffer. The planet burns. The infrastructure crumbles. The rich get richer. There is also a sad personal dimension to this 50 years of hostility.
The collateral damage includes the loss of friendship. The vetting of new friends often includes a political litmus test. Voting for Trump or Clinton is a deal breaker. Positions on abortion, environment, immigration and guns need to be vetted before friendship can be had.
It is even sadder when relationships with old friends, even family, are broken over these political issues. Lifelong friendships from elementary school are destroyed by a social media rant. Siblings won't get together for the holidays because there was a big fight over Sarah Huckabee last Thanksgiving. Invitations to weddings, graduations and parties are impacted by political preference.
As a polity we have somehow let this poison seep into our daily lives. We are losing our ability to see the big picture. We have no real agency over climate or North Korea, but we can put our differences aside for the sake of the deep, abiding love and support our friends and family have given and will give to us. We will be sorry if we don't do something. It is easy to be compassionate for Syrian orphans and rescue kittens. Compassion for a Trump-supporting brother or a Warren-supporting college roommate takes some effort.
Our government won't get better until we do.
Answer Book 2019
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