Discourse of disdain and disgust

           Civil discourse is an endangered species in America, particularly political speech.  There have always been pointed vehement disagreements, but perhaps not since the Civil War era has national politics been so aggressively antagonistic and vitriolic.  When two main factions brewed with distinctly divergent visions for our young nation, irreconcilable differences boiled over into outright schism and open warfare.

            There may be more factions today, but in general two competing ideologies on how to govern our republic are in constant bitter debate:  liberal unlimited government socialism and conservative limited government capitalism.  There’s plenty to debate albeit with waning common ground if any at all anymore.  But a troubling trend George Washington warned about in his farewell address is poisoning the body politic – hyper-partisanship.

            EVERYTHING is viewed through a stringent binary prism.  It’s either Democrat or Republican and depending on your perspective; it’s good or bad, black or white – end of story.  Once it has a party label, there’s no examination of the merits of any argument or evidence.  In ridiculous irony, most Democrats and Republicans don’t fit neatly into either camp, but like hostile football rivalries neither side can allow the other a first down much less a touchdown.  Party politics has become a winner take all blood sport.

            Washington has been proven completely correct.  Political parties are utterly consumed with the quest for absolute power.  Governing a free people is not the mission for either party, so the final factor is always party over principle.

            There’re two more elements for our current vicious malaise:  criminal or negligent media hype and hypocritical lack of mutual respect.  Abdicating their vital role as a free press, the main stream media has forfeited any trust.  Bias is expected and actually acceptable if there’s a modicum of fairness in the pursuit of objective truth.  However, media has picked a side joining the hyper-partisan fray.  A Harvard Kennedy School study showing 80% negative coverage of Trump is staggering for supposed news organizations.  Colluding with their chosen party, they’ve become purveyors of propaganda.  All news is fake news until proven otherwise.

            Accelerating for decades, lop sided coverage has given rise to alternate media and independent news groups.  However, competition is fierce and survival difficult; new sources desperately need to show following or market penetration.  So they succumb to the seductions of click-bait.  Since people tend to ignore important but mundane issues, media uses the most inflammatory interpretations to grab your attention.  Both sides tend to extremes to entice followers.

            Perhaps produced by this polarization is lack of respect.  Both sides have concluded the other is the earthly embodiment of evil.  Each accuses the other of destroying America.  Beyond extremists, average folks whether Democrat or Republican all love America!  We may have diametrically opposed views and fiercely criticize each other as hopelessly wrong, but common people on either side of the fence love this country.

            There is certainly a vast chasm between liberal and conservative visions, but accusations of destruction are well beyond acute disagreement.  The American concept is to debate an idea, vote on a course, take that course; and then adjust that course after the next debate.  The actual results of any course taken should justify or not the decision, but we are at a point we never set sail because after any decision the other side immediately tries to scuttle the ship.

            Notice the incessant acrimony increases from local to state to national where partisan paralysis grips the Capital.  The difference is respect.  The players in Washington are strangers sent to an away game to bring home the bacon, so there’s no familiarity or respect.  Back at the local level, we know and understand each other such that we can disagree without disdain and disgust. 

            We will never fully settle our differences, but we must reject hyper-partisanship especially in the media.  Stop the constant bickering.  Argue and debate, but once we vote – move on.

            “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  Philippians 2:3


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