Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dangerous Times

Live Science had a good article the other day about the dangers of such deep political polarization as we are seeing happen now.

Traditionally, political parties have been coalitions of broad groups of people, based more on industry, region and interest group than basic morals, University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt said here during a lecture at the annual meeting of the Association of Psychological Science. Since the 1970s and 1980s, however, Americans have increasingly sorted themselves by liberalism and conservatism, resulting in two political parties that seem almost alien to one another. (Link)
I was struck last week by some of the incredible rhetoric on the polarized talking heads shows (Fox and MSNBC). No one, even those I agreed with, seemed willing to tone it down. Everyone is yelling; everyone is finger pointing. Any disagreement, even within your own party is seen as giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

This is not the politics I studied in college. This is not the political process of democracy's finest hours.

Then Professor Haidt's money quote:
When politics are tied inextricably to morals, everything becomes sacred, from guns to flags to race. And when sacred values are threatened, people lash out. Debates are no longer disagreement, they're treason. (Link)
Here's that last sentence again. Read it with sadness and even worry about where we might go between now and November's election:
Debates are no longer disagreement, they're treason.

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