Usually I enjoy reading Leonard Pitts in the Columbian. I may not agree with everything he says, but I find him to be intellectually stimulating. He has something to say, and I am willing to listen to him. Today, though, his comments sent chills down my back.
After denigrating Sarah Palin for most of his column, he ended with some chilling words. “The result of which is that Americans increasingly occupy two realities, one based on conviction that facts matter, the other on the notion that facts are only what you need them to be in a given moment. That ought to give us all pause because it leads somewhere we should not want to go. When two realities divide one people, the outcome seems obvious. They cannot remain one people.”
Pitts cast dispersions on Bachman, Beck, Kyl, and we could add Rush in there too. I would agree that these individuals make comments that stretch the truth. So does Bill Mahr, Stephen Colbert, and President Obama. When did facts lose their importance? When did we move away from having factual conversations and get tied up into emotional knots?
Its not like we haven’t been down this road before. Abraham Lincoln stated during his unsuccessful attempt to win a Senate seat: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”
In the years leading up to the civil war emotions ran hot over states rights and slavery. When Abraham Lincoln was elected President he had to sneak into Washington D.C. for his inauguration. So we know about a divided country. The ideologies of Lincoln’s day may be different from our issues, but there are differing realities in existence! Some would view these issues as theological, others see abortion as the line of demarcation. Big government, little government, tax the rich, feed the poor, unionism, free enterprise, all represent dissension points, depending who you talk too. Others see conservatism versus liberalism as the issue.
In the mid 19th century we lost the ability to dialogue. We were not able to problem solve and come to a conclusion over the topic of slavery. Good people were on both sides of the issue, and as a result of this inability to problem solve many or our men and women died. Today we have good people on both sides of the many issues, and we are losing our ability to reason and find solutions.
Michael J. Boskin, a professor of Economics at Stanford University, wrote about President Obama today in the Wall Street Journal. He castigated Obama over his failed economic programs, and his apparent belief that the profit motive is ignoble. He also pointed our that after the midterm defeat of the Democrats that Obama should have moved more towards the middle. This way more could have been done. “Instead of doubling down, Mr. Obama could have seen his party’s 2010 midterm defeat as a message from voters to move to the center, announcing that his vast expansion of government was temporary and necessitated by the financial crisis and deep recession. That is similar to what Clinton did after his 1994 midterm rebuke that swept Republicans to control of Congress and led to bipartisan agreement to balance the budget and reform welfare.” That does not seem to be happening.
It appears both sides have dug in, and are now slinging mud. We will never get anywhere by losing our civility and love of facts. Before our next President has to slink into Washington D.C. to be inaugurated we need to begin to see the reality of one great nation again.
And that is my thought for the day!