Just for fun, let’s pretend I have a doctorate in both political science and sociology.
And you do, too.
In fact, let’s make it all of us.
So now that we’re experts in the American political system and the culture that forms it, can we explain how the country has become divided almost exactly in half with people who seem to despise each other?
It’s easy to blame Facebook, which reaches nearly 200 million people in the U.S. and has been happily feeding everyone “news” that simply reinforces what they already tended to believe.
Surely that has driven us further apart, but how we got here isn’t nearly as important as how we get back to talking to one another.
The consequences could be truly disastrous if we fail at this. America inhabited by two “tribes” with nothing in common would leave us in a situation similar to, say, Yugoslavia a couple of decades ago.
WE’RE NOT likely to see war or ethnic cleansing, but we could be left with a government that has no mandate — and no support from either side of the Red-Blue divide.
If that sounds like a civil war of some sort, well ...
It would be.
Libertarian author J.D. Tuccille has been predicting this kind of unpleasantness for some time.
He recently dismissed the notion that President Trump — with his angry, confrontational style of politics — has made the situation worse.
“Trump didn’t elect himself,” Tuccille wrote. “Millions of Americans did the deed in a political environment that was already fraught with tension.
“So don’t look for easy fixes. Tempers are unlikely to simmer down when political tribes see each other as enemies in a high-stakes struggle for control of a government they venerate for its power to fulfill wishes and crush enemies.”
IS THERE a way out of this?
“It’s actually very simple,” said one Idaho congressional candidate. “We just have to talk to our neighbors, people at the store and at church, and accept political differences while still remaining friends.”
So who would say THAT?
It came from perhaps the least likely source, at least if you’re following policy positions: Michael Snyder, the mega-mega conservative who rails against government policies and seems to leave no room even for debate.
“I have strong political beliefs and I truly believe I know the right way this country should go,” Snyder said after a luncheon speech last week. “But that doesn’t mean people who disagree with me are evil, or enemies, or anything like that.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a Christian conservative, but I admire all faiths — and one of my closest allies is an atheist. We have tremendous respect for each other’s values as people.”
SNYDER INSISTED that America and Idaho — even our hometowns — cannot get caught up in political labels.
“No matter how intense politics ever might get, we just can’t stop talking to one another,” he said. “We can still get along, and be neighbors with the same everyday problems — and the ability to laugh with each other.”
“Great laws and great government were created in this country with talking, with compromise.”
Somehow, that conversation with Snyder made me feel better about the chances that America still might come back together.
Not so long ago, there was an unwritten rule for conversations with friends and discussions at various gatherings: Never talk about sex, religion or politics!
It worked then.
Why not now?
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Steve Cameron is a special assignment reporter for The Press. Reach Steve at: firstname.lastname@example.org