Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Severity Of Our Disengagement

Defending himself against Bill O'Reilly's wacky accusation that he's a communist, Robert Reich says Fox News and their ilk are burying the nation in "doo-doo" -- an unintentional allusion to the late Seamus Romney, one assumes, since Reich adds:

The 2012 election doesn't seem likely to clarify any issue. At this moment the candidates and their surrogates are debating the treatment of dogs.

Across the nation, conservatives right-wingers and liberal or progressive lefties have stopped debating their respective views, or even listening to anyone they disagree with. They just find broadcasters and bloggers who confirm their views.

We're even sorting by belief according to where we live. Today your neighbors are more likely to agree with your politics than disagree. We've settled into like-minded enclaves where we don't need to think because everyone we meet confirms what we assume we already know.

It's not that the nation is more polarized than it's been in the past. America has been through searing conflicts, some within the living memories of most of us. The communist witch-hunts of the 1950s were followed by the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, battles over women's reproductive rights and gay marriage.

What makes America's current polarization remarkable isn't the severity of our disagreements but our utter lack of engagement debating them.

2 comments:

Bebe Bahnsen said...

Hmm. I admire Robert Reich (no surprise there) and I agree that the disconnect between folks of different views is alarming. But I'm always ready to discuss politics with conservatives, that is until they resort to calling Reich or the president Communists or worse. My theory is that if I can avoid expressing my utter contempt for Newt Ginglrich, for instance, they can do the same. OK, I admit. My loathing for Gingrich has occasionally been obvious, but I continue to hope we can manage to have a decent debate in this election year.
Oh, who am I kidding? It's probably way too late for that.

Fr. John said...

Probably, cousin, but hope springs e.

As a blogger (and Christian) I've tried to avoid name-calling, ad hominem statements, and especially calling people's motives into question. I've done my share of all three in the past, and I still do err and stray from God's ways.

Funny you mention your fellow Georgia peach, since I've been at my most intemperate in my Gingrich posts, especially when he briefly loomed as an actual potential nominee. Those three things are what he has done to succeed, so I felt naturally called to be Gingrichian in response. Christ and St. Paul had something to teach about that!