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Letters to the Editor

Polarized positions

October 17, 2011

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To the editor:

Some of the recent letters in this forum offer great examples of the widening gap and the growing polarization between Democrats and Republicans in our country. Supporters from each side routinely spew hyperbole which is based on opinion represented as fact, half-truths or even total fiction in an attempt to gain public support for their position. Ideologues on both sides utilize dishonesty, fear and ignorance to gather flocks of people, like sheep, for their own purpose.

It is most disturbing that at least some of those on each side actually believe that they know all the answers and take every opportunity to criticize and dismiss the ideas or actions of those with opposing views. Lacking facts, ideologues make their point by lying, exaggerating, name-calling or using sarcasm. They somehow feel justified because, after all, people who don’t believe like them must suffer from some combination of stupidity, meanness, naiveté, ignorance or elitism.

These extreme positions have gained so much traction in their respective parties that reasonable Americans are being forced to choose a side. It’s no longer about choosing representatives who are intelligent, fair-minded individuals who will thoughtfully represent me, my neighbor and all Americans, but rather, which extreme viewpoint am I most afraid of. For many citizens, it has become a choice of the lesser of two evils. Too bad.

Comments

Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2096838,00.html "Lacking facts, ideologues make their point by lying, exaggerating, name-calling or using sarcasm." === TIME mag deals with this in a recent issue. I agree we are letting the ideologues on both extremes of the spectrum run the show. Most folks just want a rational discussion and some plans to get out of the mess we created because we all want more than we are willing to pay for.

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 6 months ago

I think we are entering a time in history when the acceptable margin of error from our political decisions is becoming less and less. Therefore, the process by which we arrive at decisions that effect the nation and world have to evolve. It cannot be a battle of rich vs. poor or survival of the fittest. That is an animal mentality.

Looking back at the real estate and financial bubble, it is hard to believe that this could be allowed to happen because it was unethical, immoral and illogical. We supposed that our best and brightest knew how to manage our economy correctly but they did not.

At the start of the George W. administration, I believed we had the most experienced team that I had seen ready to lead our nation. How wrong I was. In fiscal matters, foreign policy and the environment, these people were a disaster.

A serious problem lies in the fact that the American people believe too much of the rhetoric going on in todays politics and are aligning themselves with political parties that promote economic mythology.

Two facts are evident in my opinion. Government does not know how to manage money. The opposite side of that coin is that government does not know how to fairly collect taxes.

Because of these two problems, we are not planning for the future and we are not facing the biggest problem of all, adapting and planning for our survival in the new global economy.

Without a doubt, if we do not figure it out, we will continue to elect leaders who will make huge mistakes that cost us dearly.

I have probably visited and toured nearly 10,000 manufacturing companies across the United States and in Europe and Asian. It is amazing how many brilliant engineers we have in the world and innovative and talented geniuses who can make anything with their hands. I have watched the process of how decisions are made in successful companies that actually add value in this world. If any of them operated like our political system we would all be starving right now.

At the same time, these intelligent people will often vote for idiots to run the government because the process is flawed. We are not elevating the best and brightest to manage our government. Poor management also leads to a rise in costs. The cost of living is rising at a crushing rate and consuming millions of Americans.

I believe all Americans, rich and poor, are frustrated by this and we need to find a better way to fix this problem in a hurry.

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jayhawxrok 2 years, 6 months ago

Moderate Dems and Reps have more in common with each other than either does with the extremists in their own party.

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

They don't call them wedge issues for nothing. Time Magazine has a good lead this week. I like it, naturally, because it supports my contention that 70-80% of the public just wants these folks to make decisions, suck it up and adjust services, taxes and budgets so we can get out of this mess over a generation or two. America still has the chance to be the shining city on the hill, but the centers of power are full of people with torches and pitchforks assaulting each other. It's time to grow up, America. The age of magic is over and we need to do a bit of 'rational thinking.' Anyone, Buhler? Anyone?

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somedude20 2 years, 6 months ago

Who likes sex and fudgesicles?

"Try to see it my way Do I have to keep on talking Till I can't go on?

While you see it your way Run the risk of knowing that Our love may soon be gone We can work it out We can work it out

Think of what you're saying You can get it wrong and still You think that it's all right

Think of what I'm saying We can work it out and Get it straight or say good night We can work it out We can work it out

Life is very short And there's no time For fussing and fighting, my friend

I have always thought That it's a crime So I will ask you once again

Try to see it my way Only time will tell If I am right or I am wrong

While you see it your way There's a chance that we might Fall apart before too long We can work it out We can work it out

Life is very short And there's no time For fussing and fighting, my friend

I have always thought That it's a crime So I will ask you once again

Try to see it my way Only time will tell If I am right or I am wrong

While you see it your way There's a chance that we might Fall apart before too long We can work it out We can work it out"

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

"...Americans are being forced to choose a side."

Betcha a months pay I know which anonymous forum member wrote this letter to the editor. The entire letter wreaks of this user's typical day-in-day-out rhetoric. Takers?

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markoo 2 years, 6 months ago

I'm curious. If we truly examine both parties right now and the congressional members as well as the Executive, hell even SCOTUS, which party and ideological viewpoint can we truly say has become more extreme? Which party puts their foots down, cries bloody murder if they don't get their way, and depicts compromise as "my way or the highway?" I'm not excusing either party, because both have tremendous faults in their abilities to truly and effectively represent the people of this country.

But which party really has become more extreme? And can we stop playing games and pretending that it's both?

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verity 2 years, 6 months ago

How about "Get the money out of politics"? What we have in government today will continue as long as politicians can be bought, and as long as they need exorbitant amounts of money to be elected or reelected, they will be able to be bought because only the kind who can be bought will be able to get that much money.

And Cait is dead on---we are all being manipulated.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 6 months ago

(Cross posted from another article.) One of the things that has struck me in poll after poll is how deeply divided this country is and the fact that no one from either current party has made any attempt to bridge that divide. On the contrary, politicians have exploited that schism and encouraged their followers to deepen it. Just as myriad posters on this board use words like "teabagger" and "fleabagger" to discount and belittle the believers of philosophies in conflict with their own without any real attempt to recognize the complaints of their opponents,our "leaders" appear to be encouraging this behavior by their own obstructive actions in Congress. I fully admit that I have fallen into this trap myself but it's only been lately that it's occurred to me that we are all being manipulated and used. There is an old saying in law enforcement when investigating a crime; "Follow the money." I believe this is sound advice in this case. Who benefits? And are they using this country to divide us and, ultimately, conquer us? I'm not necessarily talking about another country. But when 47% of a country's GDP is being held by only 1% of it's population, something smells pretty rotten.

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verity 2 years, 6 months ago

So many comments here prove just what the letter writer is talking about and yet people do not seem to see themselves in the mirror.

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Agnostick 2 years, 6 months ago

"Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

"This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

"Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

"It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

"There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."

--George Washington "The Address of General Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the United States" September 19, 1796 http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

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Fossick 2 years, 6 months ago

"These extreme positions have gained so much traction in their respective parties that reasonable Americans are being forced to choose a side."

The entire purpose of having elections is to choose a side. There are lots of names, you pick one or you don't.

But the "extreme positions" claim really goes to show the letter writer's myopic perspective. There is very little of consequences that the Democrats and Republicans really differ about. Neither wants to overthrow the constitution, set up soviets, impose a king. Neither wants to jail or execute dissidents, both are willing to respect the results of elections.Both support generally free markets and generally free trade. Despite protest of one side or the other, neither is socialist much less communist. Despite protest of one side or the other, neither wants to eliminate the social safety net, or set up a fascist dictatorship. Both believe that it the government's job to run schools and ban lots of things that are bad for you. That fact that we have arguments about how these things are to be done doesn't change the fact that both sides believe they ought to be done.

At the risk of invoking Godwin but to pick a telling example, Germany in the 1920s had about 2 dozen political parties. On the left, the KPD and the MSPD wanted to overthrow the constitution and impose marxist rule. In the center/left, the Socialists (SPD) supported democracy, as did the Catholic party. On the right, the Nazis wanted to overthrow democracy for a dictatorship, while the rightist DVP worked with the leftist SPD against them. Other right-wing parties worked to restore the Kaiser, some had their own unions, and more than a few had their own armies. The Brownshirts get an occasional mention on this forum for some reason.

Considering the number of possible meaningful political positions a party could take, the fact that our parties differ on so few is indicative of the fact that we basically have two capitalist, democratic, republican center parties, one is just to the left and one just to the right of the other. Yes, they fight. But as with religion, the intensity of the fight is usually inversely proportional to the true importance of the thing being fought over.

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

Just a good leader is a good start. Right now, our Commander in Chief is a total joke of a leader and by now, everyone should be aware of this. This is only my opinion and I in no way mean to spew hyperbole.

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Liberty_One 2 years, 6 months ago

"Lacking facts, ideologues make their point by lying, exaggerating, name-calling or using sarcasm."

It's like he knows bozo personally....

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Abdu Omar 2 years, 6 months ago

No, no, no. Neither the democrats or the republicans should ever win! The American People should win, not a particular party. Why do we fall for that untruth? They are there to represent us (lower case) not themselves or their party. To hell with the party, do something for the people. That is what the Constitution is about. When a congressman or woman, votes against something that the party is against, he/she should ask themselves is this for the betterment of the people of this country. Not whipped into line to vote the party line. This whole idea of political parties is a sham for the American People. Show me where it benefits us.

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Brock Masters 2 years, 6 months ago

Nothing wrong with winning but it is how the "sides" go about it today. Instead of winning by being more competent, achieving more and doing more than the other side they "win" by tearing down the other side.

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appleaday 2 years, 6 months ago

And the worst of it is, with each election, or with each vote on any bill, one "side" wins, but the problems remain -- no solutions, no compromises, no working together to find answers to complex problems. Politics has become like a football game, with two sides constantly fighting against each other.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 6 months ago

My father, who died in 1994, once told me that for almost his entire voting life, every time he stepped into a poll booth he found himself, not voting for someone but voting against someone. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

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Gandalf 2 years, 6 months ago

"For many citizens, it has become a choice of the lesser of two evils." That's because it HAS come down to the choice of the lesser of two evils. So long as extremes control their parties it won't get better.

It's not too hard to tell which party is more evil tho. Just look at guv brownie and koch's puppets.

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