One nation … indivisible?

By Cliff McCollum
Posted 8/4/16

Love thy neighbor? What’s his party affiliation?

Republican.

Democrat.

Libertarian.

Green.

Reform.

Even Independent, I suppose.

It seems these days, now more so than any time I …

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One nation … indivisible?

Posted

Love thy neighbor? What’s his party affiliation?

Republican.

Democrat.

Libertarian.

Green.

Reform.

Even Independent, I suppose.

It seems these days, now more so than any time I can remember, we are more likely to identify ourselves by party affiliation almost immediately.

We mention our favorite politicians to help clue in where we fall on the vast political spectrum.

A Donald Trump/Tom Cotton enthusiast should be believed to toe the “Tea Party” line; likewise, a Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren fanatic might be considered so far to the left that “Socialist” might actually be an apt description.

We rattle off statistics about our pet issues, railing against such favorite targets as the National Endowment for the Arts and “Obamacare” or tax cuts for the “One Percent” and transgender bathroom laws.

We stand, as a nation, largely divided, with the country divided into wide swaths of Democratic blue and Republican red, with splotches of undecided purple popping up here and there.

Even basic facts are up for partisan debate.

One can take a news event and, by searching for the appropriate media filter, find a report of that event that will align with your own political views.

Need a right-wing slant on the days events? Try Fox News or visit the Drudge Report.

Jonesing for some liberal spin? MSNBC and the Huffington Post are there waiting for you.

(And anyone still left dead center could, I suppose, watch CNN, but that network’s ratings suggest either no one is left in the political center or that everyone misses Larry King’s suspenders.)

While I suppose it’s nice to get a version of the world so narrowly-tailored to our political views, shouldn’t it be worrisome that facts and data are open to this much interpretation and molding?

When numbers and reports can be spun to fit any group’s whims or beliefs, “fact” loses its mantle of absolute truth, and we all suffer.

When “fact” is open to debate, all sorts of evils can slip into the world, as a willful exclusion of reality turns ignorance into an allegedly valid point-of view (i.e., anyone who believes anything about “Muslim Sharia diet law” taking over our pantries and our country).

While it’s admirable to be politically conscious and try to take a stance on the issues of our day, we all might do best to take a step back and breathe for a moment.

Set aside the political nametags, and let’s all remember, at the end of the day, we’re all Americans.

We all love freedom.

We all love liberty.

We all love the flag, babies, apple pie and Evel Knievel.

Let’s not let the things we disagree on continue to pull us apart at the seams, folks.

Let’s sit down at the table, have a nice slice of pie and discuss things like the grown, rational individuals we are.

Then, and only then, can we begin to fix what I worry may be a gathering storm that will destroy this American dream so many have worked so long to build.

Cliff McCollum is managing editor of Gulf Coast Media. He can be reached at cliff@gulfcoastmedia.com.