National politics are making us crazy.
Sensible people have simply begun blocking out the incessant screaming on the airwaves or in publications, and that’s not a positive development. It’s difficult, though, to blame anyone for doing so when personal sanity is at stake.
The rancor is a cause of the alienation between voters and parties, and is intensifying a long-festering disaffection. While political party affiliation has been declining for a number of years, the most recent Gallup national survey last month indicates only 27 percent of Americans self-identify as Democrats and only 29 percent as Republicans. A clear plurality, averaging 43 percent nationwide over the past four months of polling, identify as independents not aligned with either party.
Also significant is that nearly half of the country, comprising 47 percent of all likely voters in an annual national poll, believes neither faction in Congress is “the party of the American people.” That number is six points higher than the previous year. Only a third, at 35 percent, disagree with that assessment.
Amidst this deepening disassociation, the two major political parties have become dual sides of the same coin – either dysfunctional or dystopian. Determining which is which is now essentially nothing more than an inkblot interpretive choice among a majority.
The bulk of voters, situated at a moderate policy center both parties have abandoned, are dismayed by what is increasingly expected to be an extreme binary choice on the presidential ballot more than 14 months from now. Many worry more, however, about stabbing their eyes out long before that moment eventually arrives.
What some are touting as “the most consequential decision in history” seems to many Americans the equivalent of a massive food fight in an elementary school cafeteria. It’s a brawl that’s become starkly ugly and nasty, too.
The commonplace name-calling, invective hurling, and motive questioning of ordinary voters is now wholly pervasive. Tuning-out or shutting-up has become the preferred personal strategy for preserving internal wellbeing or protecting external reputations.
Have we really entered an era when everyone is either a racist or a socialist, or similar and worse? Are we actually neutering such disparagements and rendering them meaningless by casual application to those with whom we happen to disagree?
People don’t like being maligned as motivated by evil, particularly when the defamation is unwarranted or unjustified. It’s certainly not the route toward successfully building a coalition of the dominant disaffected.
If Democrats want to emerge victorious in an election only they could fail to win, party officials might consider dumping as much cash as it might take to convince CNN to switch to televising movies all day and night. The network, by becoming just another blatantly transparent partisan co-conspirator undermining fair-minded news delivery, is hurting more than helping. They’ve devolved, in a ratings contest for viewers, to merely mirror the longstanding opinionated ploys of oppositional FOX and MSNBC.
Political pundits, news analysts, and even the nominally objective traditional journalists across the spectrum have largely abandoned any semblance of straightforward reporting or unbiased analysis. Most humorous are those mocking the media pursuit of the next contrived rabbit unleashed – while spotting another one and immediately taking chase.
The behavior of politicians, parties, pundits, and the purported purveyors of news are discouraging engagement and are diminishing faith in the political system, news media, and civic institutions. There’s a ‘resistance’ building, but it’s one of opposing the constant barrage of barbs and slurs directed towards ordinary citizens or the casting of political aspersions and personal slanders at entire swaths of people.
The vast majority of Americans, including within the LGBT community, live outside of highly insular right-or-left bubbles reflexively seeking their next outrage “fix” like convulsing junkies.
Our national politics have become too exhausting for too many, and the continuing growth in political estrangement is the real danger to democracy.
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