For as long as we can remember we have lived with two political parties. And except for the last 10 to 20 years these parties have been generally defined by a set of issues. Each issue, whether fiscal, social, domestic or foreign. People hold a whole range of views on any particular issue. When considering the whole array of issues an individual would compare his/her collective positions with those of the two parties and makes a choice. Each party would have supporters with a range of views and beliefs, some more conservative and others more liberal. On many issues there could even be overlap for a portion of the parties constituencies.
Things are quite different today. Parties are more and more dominated by factions with extreme views. The Republicans have the tea party and the evangelicals. The Democrats have the intellectual elites and ultra liberal socialists. The result is a debilitating polarization of our country’s politics. There have always been political factions. What is different is that they seem more extreme and they have devised schemes to dominate party politics. The result is a polarization and combative spirit that results in a debilitation of our democracy.
How will this evolve? How can we get back to a healthy democracy where debate, compromise and focus on the welfare of all citizens? Tough questions. Things may have to get worse before they can get better. Americans have a history of rallying in the face of crisis – when things get so bad that we all personally feel the consequences of the situation. When the predictions and promises of the political establishment fail to materialize, maybe this will ignite an era of increased political activism. This activism should result in the rise of more moderate representatives, affiliated with party but more independent minded. Maybe then? It will undoubtably be a long road.
Photo by DonkeyHotey