We live in in interesting times. I find myself trying to understand why we Americans are so polarized. I believe it is the result of a few factors coming together at the same time, driving our “human tribes” to react in more extreme ways.
Our news media and our politicians are continually reinforcing that things are bad. The economy is bad. Immigrants are bad. Muslims are bad. Threats against you are so bad, that in fact you’d better carry a gun to protect yourself.
This message is being heard. When polled, most people confirm they believe the American economy is worse off in general, America is more at risk from terrorists, and they are less certain about a good future for everyone in America general. However, when asked about their own situation, their standard of living, their feeling of security in their homes, etc., they respond that things in their personal world are pretty good. It is all of that danger outside their space that has them concerned.
In an environment like this, our political system would normally provide an outlet. At least it has historically. Democrats and Republicans, the House and the Senate, and the President have found ways to overcome differences and move forward. Compromise was not a dirty word. It is now. Compromise will get you defeated in the polls, and where there is no compromise, there is gridlock. Where there is gridlock there is inertia. Inertia in politics creates a leadership vacuum. When you add the general intangible pervasive fear that is being spread, people want a LEADER.
The more radically right or left the leader appears, the greater the hope people place in that person to lead them away from that which they fear. They want someone to do something. They are mad. They look at one candidate or another, and say, “Finally, this person is thinking the same things I am and I think he can make a difference.”
I personally don’t buy it. None of the candidates have the leadership qualities or the ideology that can take this country forward in a meaningful way. While they appeal to the populist masses, they will do irreversible harm to our nation, both at home and on the world stage. About all I can hope for out of this coming election is more gridlock. At least that will buy for more years of my personal welfare before some nut-job takes us off the rails.