The War Between the States.
For those of us that grew up during the 60's, 70's or even earlier this was a term more widely used to describe the American Civil War. We were taught that in this war, neighbors fought neighbors, brothers fought brothers, fathers fought sons. The issues surrounding the causes were as divisive then as some of the ones we face today. Historians, folks that record and interpret data and get paid to do so do not even agree on everything regarding the reasons this war was fought. Most of today's population simply reduce the cause of the war to slavery. Many dismiss this as a primary reason choosing to include it inside a larger problem of economics. Some point to the elitist and hypocritical views of northern politicians bent on forcing their views on what they perceived to be a southern population that was somehow "beneath them". Whatever cause you support, there is one undeniable fact; the country was so divided that citizens chose to withdraw from the United States. The further removed from that time that we get (151 years and counting) the less impact it seems to have on today's Americans. While the thought of individual states actually seceding from the Union seems like some ridiculous fantasy to our younger generations, we are getting to a point in our 's nation's history where tensions are so high between the federal government and the states that some have even suggested secession. While this is highly unlikely to occur in our society today the tensions are still volatile enough that courts are increasingly having to rule on differences of philosophies as our federal government tries more and more to dictate state laws. The Federal Department of Justice has virtually ignored prosecution of federal laws choosing instead to interfere with individual local matters even to the point of beginning investigations regarding social issues before the actual criminal investigations are completed. At times they have been dispatched before the bodies are even cold. It is not just an appearance that the DOJ has been trying to influence investigations at the local level while ignoring overwhelming evidence of criminal law at the federal level, it is reality. The highest level of law enforcement, one that has to be free of political influence to be effective, has been corrupted. To say that state governments and the federal government are at distinct odds would be an understatement, especially in those states that are considered "purple" states for the purposes of a national election. See our own North Carolina as an example.
Personally, what I have experienced the past 18 months is somewhat depressing. I have seen those who express radical ideas vehemently defended and even advocated for by the media though their positions represent less than .1% of the general population. I have seen those same folks shouting down more commonly held beliefs by citizens from both political affiliations and attacked as being somehow "prejudiced" or worse though they are only expressing their beliefs which is also protected free speech. On the one hand the radical minority is screaming tolerance yet have zero "tolerance" themselves for those who hold more mainstream views. The notion that everything that is a commonly held belief, principle or religious choice contrary to radical thought is somehow racist or even bigoted has caused a withdrawal of participation by those that are actually interested in improving society. It does not matter how loud you shout at extremists or how much you try to reason while presenting data contrary to their beliefs; they will not change their positions one iota. Citizens that hold more moderate or reasonable political positions are the best hope for improvement. They are not going to be reached when being constantly attacked and challenged simply because they do not take an extreme position or "take a side". If compromise is your goal then that has to begin with reasonable, receptive people. Strict categorization cannot be taken back by adding the qualifier "oh, we didn't mean you". Again, the louder you shout and the more aggressively insistent you are, the less likely I am to hear what you are saying or give consideration to your cause.
The example of my "almost 50 year friend" is not exclusive to them. Moderate positions are currently "out of style" even to the point of condemnation. This isn't divided simply between conservatives and liberals. I have observed folks that I have known 30 years or more turn into angry and much more radical people than I ever imagined. Obviously a good many of these acquaintances are of a differing political philosophy though were raised in a very similar family structure. However, I have also observed those of similar political philosophies go completely intolerant of even friends of a moderate slight left lean. The conversations have turned almost exclusively confrontational, rarely ending in any level of consensus. No compromise. No give and take. No positive dialogue. The sum of these ingredients is no positive progress. It has led me to the position that those in the news and front and center in our political landscape are not interested in solutions, just their own personal gain. If you wave a magic wand and allowed positive dialogue causing real progress to be made, many of them would be out of a job and out of the limelight. Do you believe they are willing to sacrifice their notoriety, fame and personal fortune making for the betterment of common folks? Those who would defend such individuals are either naive or aspire to be just like them.
There are friends that I have known for years that have become aggressive and even inflammatory whenever political opinions are presented. People I have rarely or never had a cross word with now argue vehemently even when there is no argument. They are so consumed with defending their positions that they do not care to listen to what is actually being said to them and become defensive if you do not roll over and say "I agree with everything you said" regardless of whether they are basing their positions on fact or third hand propaganda. Some I have unfriended. A lot I have "un-followed". A few I have been hurt by because they have decided to categorize me simply because I don't see things their way. What really bothers me is that I and most all of us have allowed extremist politics to infringe on our personal lives and relationships in this negative manner. We are divided as a country and as citizens of a state and community. We are divided among our friends and even families. We have been divided and we are are close to being conquered. The War Between the States; can we survive another?
Are we willing as American citizens to unite and defeat these foes that are much more common to us all than we have been willing to admit? Or will we continue to elect the same mistakes over and over providing political fertilizer for their selfish ambitions of power and wealth?
We must unite to do this ourselves. I don't see Abraham Lincoln walking through the door to the White House anytime soon.