By BILL YEE
There have been the recent hearings on the Jan. 6 capital attack and the in- home assault of Paul Pelosi, the husband of house speaker Nancy Pelosi, and now we are approaching the contentious mid-term elections. All of these are symptoms of the struggles our political system is going through.
One of the threats to our democracy is the disturbing trend of political polarization. We no longer want to dialogue and hear the other side.
Name-calling by both the left and the right are now commonplace. Calling progressives snowflakes and socialists does not bring about cooperation on legislation or even the governing our nation. By the same token, not all Republicans are racist or homophobic. In fact, there are gay Republicans.
When we label and name-call, we demonize our opponents very much like the propaganda machines of warring nations.
I have friends who have blocked each other off on social media and are no longer on speaking terms over their political views.
I also have friends who are not looking forward to Thanksgiving because there may be talk of politics that may turn into family shouting matches and maybe even a fist fight!
So, what has caused this political polarization of American society? I blame the evolution of our media. Talk radio has become a bastion of the right. Late-night talk shows on TV constantly bash the right and, of course, “you know who.”
Viewers only watch Fox or CNN depending on our political viewpoint! To summarize, the media has become politically polarized.
People on the right no longer trust what they call “lamestream media,” so many embrace alternative media outlets that peddle conspiracy theories. Social media is a fertile ground for misinformation.
On the other hand, the media swing to the left has driven people from trusting the “mainstream media.”
Those of us who are older remember that Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America! The CBS Evening News was objective.
An even more dangerous trend is the questioning of the legitimacy of elections. Once we lose faith in the outcome of elections, our republic is taking the first step toward governmental chaos.
Again, neither side is innocent in this area of conflict. From questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election or challenging the right of people to vote by mail, both sides add to the conflict.
How does this polarization of American politics affect us? It produces gridlock with no room for compromise.
Our founders compromised when they wrote the Constitution and created the republic. In our founding, the hot-button issues were slavery, representation, and a powerful central government. The early republic was not perfect but the government survived. Granted, it took a bloody civil war to settle the issue of slavery.
Today the hot-button issues are inflation, abortion, immigration, global warming, and racism. Are there ways we can at least compromise or find common agreement on some of these issues?
Most elections are decided by those in the middle. Most Americans are in the middle; they are the “silent majority” and don’t embrace the extremes of either the left or the right.
We also must remember that we do share common values as Americans and have common goals.
We want to live in a society that allows us to achieve our goals and raise our kids so that they too will have opportunities to live the American Dream. I believe most Americans want racial and gender equality no matter what their political beliefs.
Hopefully the mid-term elections will bring some sanity to our politics. We need a leader who will step up, represent all of us and bring about real solutions and agreements to the important issues of our time.
Bill Yee is a retired Alhambra High School history teacher. He can be reached at email@example.com. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.