Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why are we so polarized?

Why we are so polarized ?

I've never witnessed such polarization in American society. Many young Americans know what the word 'bipartisanship' means but they've never witnessed it in action. President Obama continues to whine about his opponents, "they talk about me like a dog" and "If I said fish live in the sea, they'd say no." Don't expect Obama to win over any of his opponents with such juvenile behavior. The president who was supposed to bring us unity has only created more disunity and polarization among us. Whether he has done this purposely or not might be debatable.

When I was a child I used to accompany my mother to a discount store called Cutter's. They had cheap sunglasses with colored lenses. If I put on the yellow lenses my world was yellow, if I put on the red lenses the world was red. The way the world appears to us depends on the lenses we look through.

Obviously, Republicans and Democrats interpret their world through different lenses. The distinct worldview of those on the left and those on the right is the reason we are so polarized. When Barack Obama says he wants 'hope and change' for America he is interpreted differently by conservatives and liberals.

When Obama says he wants to bring "fundamental change" to America liberals get very excited. Fundamental change to a liberal means heaven on earth. A utopian society in which there is no poverty, no crime and no war. Obama may truly be the 'messiah' who will bring a utopian society in which there are no borders, there are no competing governments and there are no destructive weapons.

When Obama says he wants to bring "fundamental change" to America conservatives nearly go apoplectic. Those on the right view America as an exceptional country, a country that has emerged as the world's most successful nation because it is exceptional. Our success is not something we should feel guilty about, rather, it is the result of being blessed by the God of our forefathers who was very pleased when they founded a country based on belief in Him. Why would we want to change? Why would we want to abandon a country created by men with a conscience toward God? Why would we want to be like Europe? Why would we want to take the same path as the Soviet Union?

I remember when my older brother brought home his first Beatles album. Liberals and conservatives loved Lennon's song 'Imagine'. A liberal might get really excited about a world without countries but a conservative who believes in the exceptionality of the United States doesn't want to think of a world with no borders. A conservative believes that the founding of this country had a lot to do with God and they don't want to think of a world without God. And if there is no heaven or hell a conservative worries about the effects such a belief might have on the prevalence of immorality in our society.

A liberal looks at Obama's hope and change and sees heaven on earth. A conservative looks at Obama's hope and change and sees hell on earth. We couldn't be more polarized than that!

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