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As Long as We Remember...

May 13, 2013

Political Disparity vs. Common Ground in America

Steven R. Berryman

Extreme political positions seem to be the norm, more and more, especially as viewed through the mainstream media lens. Of course, our media, our politicians, and even the government itself benefit from firing people up. Causing the chasm of disagreement brings candidates, voters, volunteers and block captains alike out of the woodwork.


But how much of this simmering political discord is real and how much is an exaggerated perception that doesn’t hold true outside of the nation’s beltway and the close-in urban concentrations of Washington?


The claim is that outside of deal-breaker core issues such as abortion, firearms, and illegal immigration, there is much agreement. I dissent here. Differences do define parties.


A widely circulated Associated Press article, “Debunking discord: Americans agree on many divisive issues” from Sunday, posted the results from a host of surveys and lists a series of items that “9 out of 10 Americans – nearly all – do agree on.” Here is their list, and some thoughts.


Americans nearly all:


*Believe in God.


Sure. In an age where “In God We Trust” and references to where our government’s authority truly emanates from is fought in the Republican trenches every day – against a sea of atheists – the issue is far from resolved. Exaggeration of God vs. State will keep courts busy indefinitely, and true believers will not go away, despite the absence of a specific definition of who God is. Destructive powers seeking to make government the God must be resisted every day!


*Are very patriotic.


Nope. In fact the very act of respecting the American flag in public, or reciting our Pledge of Allegiance in a group is demonized by Democrats and discouraged as being too far to the right, or too nationalistic. The very term “patriotic” has been damaged by its attachment to The Patriot Act – in a world of Orwellian sub-meanings – where the post 9/11 security laws began to slant against Americans themselves. The GOP understands that patriotism as a culture defines what we seek to protect, despite what we have done to ourselves in the name of protection against terrorism.


*Consider preventing terrorism a very important foreign policy goal.


[Again, the bold items are supposed to be agreed upon by 9 out of 10…]


But do Americans agree that handing back our freedoms in return for some security is justified? I think not; it depends on how one asks the question!  Example: “We are against poverty and hunger” is a far cry from “We have a Constitutional requirement to forcibly move wealth around to feed and supply anyone in need.” Charity begins at home. One party more than the other stands more for the benefits of personal responsibility; guess which one?


*Admire those who get rich by working hard.


Pardon me while I laugh out loud (LOL for you younger readers!). Precisely the opposite is true! One party actively works against prosperity even in the face of the Great Recession. In an era when we must “grow our way out”…the president himself reminds us “If you are successful, you didn’t do this on your own.” The tax code is bastardized to do more than progressively tax; it virtually discourages growth by virtue of its sheer size and complexity alone. And then we re-distribute…because if you made it, you obviously cheated in some way.


*Think society should ensure everyone has equal opportunity to succeed.


Well, thank you, Mary Poppins! One party knows instinctively that you can’t legislate equality. Everyone is not “college material,” and we have massive drop-out problems and missed opportunities in trade schools as a result. It is not fair to view the outcome of hard work and punish the victors. It is not smart to hand out the winning trophy to all contestants, lest we discourage the value of competition itself… We do not promise “equal outcome” in The Constitution!


Think it’s important to get more than a high school education.


Yes, be all that you can be and all of that, but we are all not destined to grow up to be president. The system should not be setup to deem those not becoming doctors, lawyers, and professionals as failures.


*Favor teaching sex education in public schools.


Really? How many parents were set back by having to explain to their own children why their elementary school insisted on demonstrating how to put a condom on a cucumber? Do we really remove parenting from parents? How soon before we simply hand over the children at birth to some government incubation system for life? Why do you think Charter Schools and “home-schooling” are enjoying such a renaissance now?


*Find birth control morally acceptable.


Yes and no. Do we allow government to override specific religious doctrines? Do we allow Obamacare to become a deciding factor, promoting any borderline decisions on abortion? Surely there is dissention in whether to grant “morning after pills” to 15-year-old girls. One party is conservative on this issue.


*Believe cloning humans would be morally wrong.


Wake up, you potential “organleggers.” Several methods of making your next arm, ear, or stomach are already in beta-testing. We must actively debate consequences and issues that will drive prices and penalties for abuse while this is still possible. The genie is out of the bottle on this one.


*Believe it’s wrong for married people to have affairs.


There is obviously a disconnect here, as 30% of the married have had affairs, by statistic, and 52% of all marriages end up in a divorce. The very middle-class itself is under constant barrage to the point that marriage has become an economic relationship more than anything else. One can easily debate that there is a war on the middle class, despite claims diametrically opposed to this, especially during this regime. The very nature of what is marriage may have to be renegotiated, but one party alone insists that it be only between a man and a woman.


*Are interested in keeping up with national affairs.


Would that it were to be true. Political postures such as the “sequestration” force Americans to live from paycheck to paycheck, with little time to become involved. National affairs have become academic exercises not worth the attention to most.


And lastly:


*Believe it’s their duty to vote.


Belief and actual action are two different things. Voter apathy belies this premise, and those voting by not voting in the last presidential cycle proved it. I do believe that this one – as opposed to the others above – is a constant. That said, shame on us for not energizing our neighbors and engaging them politically to join in the process, just as we need them most.


And they have the most to lose.


Long live debate, and viva la difference!


See for the related AP column.


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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