This entry isn’t really more than links to some articles I’ve enjoyed in the last several hours from the Washington Post. Three articles in a series, plus a chat transcript (that I recommend reading, too), that profile both the evident division in this country, as well as profiles of two familes, one Republican, and one Democratic.
Oh, but I do ramble on a bit here.
In the article about the division, Senator Jeffords—uniquely independent—calls the division a "chasm", and I also feel it’s huge. There are a multitude of issues creating separation, and I think I could personally overlook most of those to unite on things we all want (safe roads, reliable financial markets, freedom to associate, etc.), but there is one belief that astonishes me in mature adults that if mostly expelled might fix most of the division. It is this: that one’s belief about reality is so certain that it makes another’s reality, where there is conflict, wrong. Not just wrong for the one, but wrong for the other, too, when the other’s adherence to the conflicting view neither breaks one’s leg nor picks one’s pocket.
Of course, passive marginalization of the other’s community sucks, too.
One of the family members in the article on the Democrats points out one of the strongest feelings I had when reading about the Republicans: that they can see the world the way they do because nothing is really impinging on their little world.
“They’re eating well,” Harrison continues. “They’ve got a roof over their heads. They’re feeding their kids. They’ve got everything. There are no luckier people. How can they complain? About anything?” And yet they do, he says, griping about taxes, about the size of government and about politicians as though every last one of them were a one-dimensional cartoon.
How do the Republicans in this article feel about this?
“They make me feel like I have no hope. They make you feel like, why wake up in the morning?” Lannom says of Blue Americans he sees on TV or hears on the radio. “It’s like every time I hear Al Franken speak, the world we live in is sooo bad, everything is going sooo wrong. Is it really that bad?”
“We see life as it is,” May says.
“They seem bitter,” Lannom says. “They just never seem happy. Every time you hear them talking, they’re bitching about something.”
“They’re whiners,” Stein agrees.
Part of me thinks, these people simply aren’t suffering enough. At the same time, I often feel overdosed on bleak, too, but that doesn’t mean that the problems don’t exist.
Harpers has had an article in each of the last two issues that connect to this issue of division. I wish they were available on the web so that you could point and click your way to further engagement. The first is "Lie Down For America: How the Republican Party Sows Ruin on the Great Plains" in the April 2004 issue. I hadn’t quite clued in to how consciously the political right uses God and values to manipulate its constituents; this article talks about that and the way it has changed the alleged heartland. (For example, Kansas, once the land of populism.)
The other article is in the May 2005 issue and is titled, "What Democracy? The Case for Abolishing the United States Senate". I’ve always thought the senate was a funny idea, due to the unequal representation; this article talks about its origins and its parallel to the English House of Lords. I’ve wished out loud for a single legislative body with proportional representation and a plurality of parties, and I’ve even wondered how I could make that a reality. (There are some bent on that already—but, curses, I cannot now find their web site—but this article suggests that the English eventually did to the House of Lords what we might more easily do to our Senate than abolish it.)