Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. These groups - best exemplified by the Tea Party but not exclusive to the Right - want to elect people who have no political experience. They want "outsiders." They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They're willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power.
Ultimately, they don't recognize other people. The suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don't accept the legitimacy of the interests and opinions. They don't recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.The biggest problem I had with the candidacy of Bernie Sanders was how much it had it common with the candidacy of Ted Cruz. Not on the issues, mind you, but on the whole revolution thing. The more I listened to him - and to a larger extent his supporters - the more convinced I became that this single-minded fixation on the system being rigged and Bernie being the only who could fix it, was no different than the rhetoric I hear coming from far Right commentators on how we have strayed from our constitutional moorings.
Words like transform aren't all that different from words like restore when you parse out the ideological leanings. The intense emotion that such verbiage provokes on both sides only makes things worse, not better. Brooks elaborates,
The antipolitics people don't accept that politics is a limited activity. They make soaring promises and raise ridiculous expectations. When those expectations are not met, voters grow cynical and, disgusted, turn even further in the direction of antipolitics.
The antipolitics people refuse compromise and so block the legislative process. The absence of accomplishment destroys public trust. The decline in trust makes deal-making harder.Soaring promises abound this election year, from Donald Trump's wall on the Mexican border to Bernie Sanders's promise for free college tuition and universal healthcare. Nobody even remotely familiar with the nature of logistics believes for a moment that any of these things will come to fruition, but that hasn't stopped both men from pushing for them, nor for that matter their supporters from insisting that they be enacted. In fact, Sanders has demanded that his policy positions be included in the Democratic platform as a condition for his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, which he is expected to announce this coming week. For the most part, the DNC has capitulated.
This is no longer about the Left vs. the Right vs. the Center; it's about unrealistic expectations butting heads with practical limitations. Politics has, for all intents and purposes, become the ultimate four-letter word in our society and yet, for most of our history, it was how things got done. The scratching of one's back for the scratching of another's, as distasteful as that may sound to some, is how legislation used to get passed in this country.
One of the greatest pieces of legislation ever passed - the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - was signed into law primarily because Lyndon Johnson ostensibly cajoled and/or "bargained" with dozens of members of Congress. Abraham Lincoln used similar methods to help get the Thirteenth Amendment passed. Without some good old fashioned horse trading (e.g., politics) neither would ever have seen the light of day.
The polarization that has gripped much of the nation is simply a by-product of ideology run amuck. The two major political parties have been taken over by their respective bases. Yes, Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination, but not without being pulled far to the left of her comfort zone. When the GOP and the Democrats hold their conventions later on this month they will have one thing in common: neither will mention anything about bipartisan compromises that will allow the nation to heal. Both will be way too busy cementing the divide that already exists within the electorate. Republicans will speak to their contingencies; Democrats to theirs; and both will talk past one another.
The deadly shootings in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, Falcon Heights, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas, underscore just how precarious the plight of the nation truly is. Two black men and five cops were violently taken from their families and we still can't summon the courage to properly mourn the dead without turning it into a circus.
If you are pro Black Lives Matter, than you must hate the police, and if you're pro police, then you must hate black people. But why do we have to choose between such extremes? Isn't possible to be outraged at the killing of so many black men and women at the hands of law enforcement, while at the same time acknowledging how difficult and many times dangerous it is being a cop? Why is there a black wall and a blue wall? In fact, why are there any walls at all?
Admitting that racism still exists in many parts of the country is not an indictment of cops; rather it is an opportunity for them to become better examples to the communities they serve and protect. Black people must feel that they will be treated fairly and equally by cops in their neighborhoods and cops must feel safe while patrolling those neighborhoods. It is a two-way street.
Maybe the answer to all our problems has been there all along. Maybe if we all sat down together in one room - Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, moderates, whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu, atheists, men, women, straights, gays - and listened to one another, we might start a real conversation. Hell, we might even get some things accomplished.
One thing is for certain: what we're doing now sure as shit ain't working.