Polarization in Congress, government and society at large cannot be exclusively attributed to Republicans; Democrats have policy positions that tend to polarize Americans as well.
I am a former Republican who has turned Independent, solely due to the negative polarizing tone and undesirability of the Republican Party’s policy positions and its “on every side of every issue” candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, and I am not alone. The contrast between the current “right/conservative” issues and the issues espoused by the left/liberals has more to do with who (class) and the number of “ordinary” Americans affected by legislation and policies — proposed and supported by those who are either in or are currently pursuing positions of leadership and influence over our citizenry and our economy.
The left/liberals seem to work for the majority of Americans, while the right/conservatives seem to work for a much smaller fringe minority. All of the tax breaks, all of the control over our citizenry, business deregulation and influence over our ability to democratically select our representative government is flowing to the top 1 percent while the other 99 percent is expected to submit to this status quo while footing the bill to finance this flawed, counter-productive process.
Public-sector employees and our public schools are under an unprecedented attack by conservatives who intend to leach every dime they can get out of public education and funnel the proceeds into tax breaks for the wealthy and for-profit voucher systems for private schools across this country.
Balance the budget at any cost even if it’s detrimental to job creation, resist raising the debt ceiling even to meet our current obligations, preserve tax cuts for the wealthy, roll back women’s pay equity and women’s health and reproductive rights, oppose rights for LGBTs in any form, eliminate the Dream Act for those seeking/dreaming of becoming citizens of the greatest society that the world has ever known, bust organized labor unions across the board, restrict the public’s access and ability to vote, and oppose any measures taken to provide health care coverage for as many Americans as possible are conservative goals.
Did I miss any?
But these are not and ought never to become goals for the American majority. We are better than our politics, and we must continue our struggle to secure “liberty and justice for all.” I implore Republicans and conservatives and every other American to always hold fast to the idea that we came together in this land of the free for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for every citizen. Any party, whether it’s Republican, independent, Democrat or otherwise, that tries to bring us to anything less than this ideal has a fight on their hands that they must not win.
The editorial of May 30 bemoaned the start of the campaign season.
It noted that almost everything a politician says is “nuanced, conditional, vague, ambiguous waffling,” then suggested that we need to “separate the sense from the twaddle.”
The obvious response is: How? There are a very few natural lie detectors. Most of us are not that good at judging people, especially charming expert liars like Warren Harding and William Clinton.
The only source for determining a politician’s actual opinions that I have found is www.votesmart.org. The website not only lists ratings by political analysts, both liberal and conservative, but also includes actual voting records, sorted by topic, for state and federal politicians.
I wish such data were available for local candidates. I urge our local newspapers to provide such voting records before the election.
Richard W. Petersen