The polarization of America

America isn’t so great anymore because we’re so polarized as a nation. Growing up as I did in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, I just don’t understand how our country became so darn polarized over the last couple decades. A major source, I believe, is presidential politics.

The polarization really got bad after the 2000 elections when Al Gore decided to turn this country upside down by ungraciously contesting the popular vote in Florida. What he should have done instead was what Nixon did in 1960 when he graciously congratulated John Kennedy as the 35th U.S. president when everyone knew that the crooked Chicago machine (vote early and vote often!) put Illinois over the top for Kennedy despite Nixon winning the popular vote.

Things have always been contentious between the competing parties going back to the days of Jefferson and Madison arguing over the various roles of government. Since 2000, Republicans and Democrats have come now to hate each other and I’m not talking about just politicians, I’m talking about everyday Americans who can’t even have civil conversations any more.

When Bill Clinton decided to work with Newt Gingrich after Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 1996, this country was running a budget surplus and many major pieces of domestic legislation were negotiated and passed that made our country better. Bill Clinton, despite some dalliances, is still revered for his ability to work across the aisle for the betterment of the country.

But today, politicians are all so polarized and mixed up that roles seem to be reversed. For example, in the past, the “button downs” were Republicans and the long-hairs were Democrats. Today the button downs are Democrats and the long-haired, Harley-riding tattooed folks are conservatives. Go figure!
Liberals brand conservatives as racists and conservatives can’t understand how liberals can be so gullible to fall for ideals found only on the road to Marxism but cloaked in “caring socialism.” The problem with the asserted racist tag is that it isn’t true.

On the contrary it was the democratic south that wouldn’t give up on slavery. It was the democratic senate of Lyndon Johnson that tabled every piece of civil rights legislation coming from the Eisenhower administration and it was only by a majority of republicans in both the House and Senate that passed LBJ’s 1964 Civil Rights legislation.
In fact more democrats voted against the civil rights legislation than did republicans (this isn’t taught in the schools). It was the Democrat Woodrow Wilson who reversed integration and imposed nationwide segregation again in the early 20th century (not taught) and Martin Luther King was a Republican (never uttered).
Winston Churchill once said that if you’re not a socialist when you’re 25 you have no heart but if you’re over 40 and you’re still a socialist, you have no brain. He also said that socialism works until it runs out of people to tax and that’s when fascism emerges.

Another wise sage once said that he who points fingers does so in a mirror as hypocrisy comes from reflection and hypocrisy becomes muted when supported by an ideological press.
Today we see military-aged male refugees swarming into Europe where liberals are accepting them with open arms while conservatives are saying “no way.” And while the whole Middle East seems to be going up in smoke, Democrats are screaming for Global Warming legislation not realizing — or maybe they do realize — that adopting such laws and regulations gives away our energy independence and sovereignty of the United States to the United Nations.

With such power centralized in the UN, the UN secretary could potentially become a one-world dictator. That is not what our founders intended. If and when proponents of climate change legislation allow differing opinions to be considered and debated they may actually realize how neutered the USA would become and possibly rethink their positions.
It’s just aggravating that there is so much unchecked money flowing into the political system today that many voters, republican or democrat, vote because of a paid sound bite or a piece of drivel from a celebrity they admire. Democrats want a powerful and “just” government and Republicans want only enough government to be protected from evil forces from within and from without.

Democrats believe in cradle to the grave protection from themselves and Republicans only want rugged individualism and freedom to pursue their own happiness without interference from government. These differences should be debated at the most basic levels of learning.

Balanced education is the key. Kids need to learn about the differences in domestic political theory as well as learn how great societies failed in the past. Growing up as a baby boomer, teachers and government workers in general worked and taught school until they had enough experience to move into the private sector.

Teachers didn’t have agendas back then. Today, the educators, from those who craft the federal and state guidelines to the teachers themselves, are 90 percent Democrat (per respected Pew polls that researched political contributions from teachers and professors to Republicans and Democrats). That kind of disparity does not allow diversity and balanced discussion at the most basic levels of education.  That’s a complete flip from the way our generation grew up.

I want our government to be back to the way it was when Reagan was working with Tip O’Neill and Clinton was working with Newt Gingrich. That is what I would like to see in my next president so that America can be balanced, have differing ideas respected and the country be great again like it was when I was growing up.

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