Hop on board the Polarization Express, where common ground is the running joke.
What exactly is meant by polarization in regards to American politics? Simply put, it’s the strategic simplification of issues into clearly opposing viewpoints that leads to the black-and-white way of rationalizing.
Here in America, we like it fast, simple and easy. Everything has an opposite, a different, an other. Gray areas have all but vanished.
We like our citizens men and women, our seasoning salt and pepper, and our politicians Democrat or Republican.
Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats have largely been driven out of their parties; the middle voter in the legislatures has largely disappeared.
Some call it a culture war, others, an identity or personality war.
Here’s the problem: By oversimplifying the viewpoints on a topic, the public is given a limited perspective on the complexity of the issues. Moreover, this black-and-white dogma has the same effect as a triple-blindfold. We fail to see comparable goals, overlapping agendas and humanity in general.
Most situations in life are not so clear cut. Most of the tough topics we tackle are filled with gray areas.
By instating opposing ideological teams, progress on an issue is brought to a standstill as the teams battle back and forth in a game no one can win.
Columnist David Brooks of The New York Times recently told Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge, “If we’re not polarized as a nation, then that means there’s a structural reason we’re polarized at the elite level and in the political process. And that means if it’s a structural problem, then there’s possibly a structural solution.”
The good news? It’s not endemic to American society. The bad news? It’ll be near impossible to change, at least anytime soon.
For now, the so-called “Bible-toting, wheat-hugging, gun-shooting hicks” will battle the “Times-toting, tree-hugging, gun-banning liberals.” The stereotypes will persist. And in between the dramatic proclamations of what is right and what is wrong, we will get absolutely nowhere.