Sunday, May 07, 2006

The politics of division

Political discourse in the US has sunk to a horrible level. In essenece, there is no more civilized discussions, it has degraded to an almost immediate knee jerk reaction triggered more by who someone is (e.g. conservative, liberal, etc.) than by what they say.

We truly are a nation divided, but I believe that much of that is encouraged by what some would call the "power elite". In this group, I include the political pundits like Sean Hannity and Al Franken. Also responsible are the current crop of politicians who have wholeheartedly adopted the "I'm not them, so vote for me" campaign slogans. Look at the success of negative advertising, it's no longer about issues, it's about look at how bad the other candidate is.

Back to the pundits...

Bill O'Reilly: "The left wing smear machine"
Ann Coulter: "How to talk to a liberal (if you have to)"
Al Franken: "Lies and the Lying Liers who tell them"

This type of talk encourages an evaluation of the messenger rather than the message and that is HORRIBLE. It creates a situation where we (the non-elite) are even less likely to find common ground. This is a good thing for the politicians, because they can continue to stir up our emotions about how bad the other side is, which means we keep voting for them, even if it is because they are the "lesser of two evils".

Solutions? I wish I knew, but the first step I believe is listening to the message rather than prejudging it because of the messenger. I have been guilty of this as well, by immediately questioning anything from a known conservative messenger (e.g. Weekly Standard, Drudge Report, etc.).

Unless we can return to a discussion of issues rather than "sides", we are doomed to continue with the current crop of criminal politicians, far too deeply indebted to corporate interests.


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