As our government continues down its path of paralysis, now embroiled in endless scandal hearings, I’ve been struck by an interesting contradiction.
We know our country is polarized. In fact, we hear about it all the time. We’re polarized polarized polarized. We’re divided like we’ve never been divided before (although that’s not entirely true…I can think of a time in our history when were so divided we were at war with each other).
And yet we’re unable to acknowledge reality–that in order to get anything done in a polarized country, we have to force ourselves to do that dirty deed: compromise. Instead, it’s a battle–on both sides–to convince the rest of the country to think like us.
It’s amusing to hear both conservatives and liberals go into complete denial about this. The majority of red-blooded Americans agree with the Tea Party, it’s just a small liberal elite that brainwashes them into believing lies. The average working man supports the Democrats, but a small wealthy elite helps the Republicans push their agenda.
But the truth is, the country is split about half and half right now. This means that neither side will get exactly what it wants. And good luck persuading the other half to think like you do–I’ve seen enough online political debates by now to know that it’s impossible to change anyone’s mind. The only solution would be for us to try to meet each other halfway. And that is just not happening.
So instead, the futile struggle to overpower the other side goes on. Some of the crazies on the conservative fringe seem to harbor fantasies about taking out everyone who disagrees with them–either deporting them, or shooting them, or…making them go away somehow. Even that wouldn’t work. Civil wars are messy and complicated, and in the end, you won’t be able to make everyone with a different opinion disappear.
I believe in my principles, and would love to see a society based on progressive ideas take shape. But right now, that’s not reality. Failing to acknowledge reality causes what we see in Washington. Stalemate. Nothing. And since there are people who can use stalemate to their benefit, that probably won’t change anytime soon.