Democrats and Republicans

AE32E48D-A4FD-46E3-BF88-E95FEAD232EBGroucho Marx once said, “All people are born alike — except Republicans and Democrats.”

Unfortunately, what Groucho said decades ago is even more true today. The partisan divide is at an extreme like I have personally never experienced…and I lived through the Vietnam era, when this country was very politically divided.

We all share stereotypical views of those on the other side of the aisle. For example, if someone you’d never met learned that you were a Republican, they would likely assume that you are not black, lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, nonreligious, or Jewish. If they learned you were a Democrat, they would likely believe that you are not a white evangelical Christian and you don’t live in a rural part of the county.

Most Democrats are left-leaning, liberal, and are usually associated with progressiveness and equality. Most Republicans are right-leaning, conservative, and are associated with big business, economic freedom, and with self-reliance. But to be fair, “most” doesn’t mean “all.” There are plenty of crossovers, like me, a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.

I consider political party affiliation to be like religion. When babies are born, they have no religion. But they are taught about religion from their parents and most children embrace the religious beliefs of their families and maintain those beliefs into and throughout adulthood.

Similarly, babies are not born either Democratic or Republican. But they will typically embrace and follow the political leanings of their families.

My question is what has happened to moderates within either political party? These days moderates are ridiculed as being either RINOs or DINOs (i.e., Republicans/Democrats In Name Only) and of being disloyal to their party (even when being loyal to their party is being disloyal to their country). Political compromise and a willingness to negotiate with the other side are considered signs of weakness.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the primary purpose of a political party is to do everything it can to stymie the other party, thus effectively blocking the government from getting much of anything done. For anybody.

N is for Negotiate

16B3CACD-C269-4808-80E5-A3D552D01072Our lives include one negotiation after another. When we negotiate, we are attempting to obtain or bring about some end by way of discussion or other means, including non-verbal communication.

Negotiation is essentially a method by which people settle differences and a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument and dispute.
We negotiate daily, often without recognizing it to be a negotiation. When we’re kids, we are continually negotiating with our parents. How late can we stay up at night? What chores must we do? How much will our allowance be?

At school we negotiate relationships with our fellow students and with teachers. At our jobs we may negotiate with our bosses for raises or to get a plumb assignment or to pursue a particular project.

We negotiate when we make large purchases, such as cars or homes. And negotiation plays an important role in personal situations such as marriage, divorce, and parenting.

There are those who may even try to negotiate with God by praying and promising to act in a certain way if only God will answer their prayers.

The nature of negotiations may be political, diplomatic, social, legal, contractual, and even military.

Some people are very good negotiators. Others not so much. Our President, for example, considers himself to be a good negotiator. The best negotiator. Because he knows the best words and he’s very smart. Just ask him. He’ll be happy to tell you what a great negotiator he is.

I do wonder, though, if he’ll be able to negotiate his way into remaining President for too much longer.

Some End of Year Observations

2017 has been one of the strangest and most disorienting years that this aging Baby Boomer can recall. And believe me, I’ve experienced some very bizarre years.

I think of myself as an optimist, but maintaining a positive outlook as this chaotic year draws to a close has been quite challenging for me. So much so that even my eternal optimism has given way to considerable doubt and a lot of concerns.

Our American democracy has become incredibly fractured along political, religious, cultural, and economic fronts. Everything, from abortion to gun control, and even how to conduct oneself during the playing of the national anthem at football games or how to respond to accusations of sexual misconduct, has become intensely partisan.

Listening to and trying to understand perspectives and opinions that differ from one’s own now seems to have become a lost art. Negotiation and compromise are treated like four-letter words.

Virtually everything is politicized in this winner-take-all world in which we now find ourselves. You’re either with me or you’re against me. My religious beliefs are true and yours are false. My opinion is worthwhile and yours is worthless.

Everything is either black or white; there are no shades of gray anymore. Opposing points of view are met with disdain, contempt, and outright scorn. Politics in America has devolved into blood sport.

Attributes like character, truth, and decency don’t seem to matter in Donald Trump’s America. What might happen should Donald Trump move to fire Mueller or to sabotage the Russia investigation? Will our democracy survive or will it trigger a new American civil war?

The only way to make America great again is to abide by the Constitution and to follow the rule of law. We need to end the madness that has hijacked our government and our society. In 2018 we must do whatever we can to put the country we cherish back on the right track before it’s forever gone.

Just some year-end observations from one jaded, cynical blogger who is hopping for a better, happier new year.