I saw Frank Luntz on the BBC’s “Hardtalk” this morning. Frank is an American political consultant, pollster, and “public opinion guru” best known for developing talking points and other messaging for various Republican causes.
“Blown away” puts the feelings I had watching his interview mildly. For the first time, in a long time, I heard someone expressing exactly how I feel as I watch the American political drama and horror show that is the Clinton and Trump campaigns. He put into words the sadness, worry, and fear that I have for my country.
See, like Mr. Luntz, I love The United States.
I’m an American.
Okay, so I am an expat living in Israel. But I love the country I was born and raised in. No matter where I go, no matter what I do, I behave like, and am seen as, an American. I might be a little harder around the edges than most Americans now …
… but I’m an American.
And, I see my country falling apart. I see the people tearing each other to pieces. I see extremes on both sides of the aisle that one just couldn’t imagine years ago. Sure, there has always been nasty political fights. Sure, there have always been knock-down drag out mud smears in the media.
Of course there have been.
But the average, everyday American didn’t look at their neighbor with fear and loathing the way they seem to these days.
And everyone is worried about religious extremists of one type or another!
Look at each other!
The country is more divided now in such a complete and extreme way, a way that I cannot remember ever seeing. Not that I am so old. I’m approaching 40. Yet, in all my life, I have never seen Democrats and Republicans literally hate each other so much.
More than that, I don’t remember Democrats hating each other, or Republicans hating each other, or Libertarians hating each other, and anarchists and socialists and communists hating everyone else … in the “frothing at the mouth, rabid dog, eyes popping, neck veins bulging” way that I see right now.
Where is the balance?
Where is the love for one another that we should have as a people?
I think. I feel. I believe.
What we are seeing now has been a long time coming. It’s not some sudden, strange phenomenon that just popped into existence overnight. Frank Luntz made a good point on Hardtalk. The levels of extremism and extreme rhetoric coming out of the mouths of politicians and being gobbled up by the masses isn’t just coming out in America.
People that we despise are rising to the top of the political heap, and they are feeding our fears and hatreds, and it’s happening all around the world … in England, France, Germany, Italy, Austria … wild and almost psychotic factionalism is ruling the day.
Tremendous cultural shifts are occurring, from traditional to non-traditional. In Western societies, from capitalism toward socialism. From Right to Left.
Guess who is to blame?
We all are.
Because somewhere along the way, we stopped actually talking to each other, and even more importantly, we stopped listening.
Oh, 50 people were killed in Orlando?
The conservatives scream “It’s not the gun’s fault! Law abiding citizens should not have their right to keep and bear arms curtailed because of the actions of a radical Islamist!”
The liberals scream back: “If the possibly gay or bisexual Muslim who couldn’t deal with his sexuality and who took his frustrations out on the 50 people he murdered didn’t have access to these guns, there would not have been a massacre in the first place!”
Neither side is listening to each other.
Conservatives are too busy beating their drums and chanting their mantras to empathize with the liberals in a meaningful manner. Liberals are just as too busy sticking to their traditional talking points to understand the fear of government control that underlies the conservative position, the burning desire to preserve liberty (that ensures the ACLU can fight for the 1st Amendment even if the government decided in an Orwellian decision to just shut them down).
They don’t empathize either.
Any attempt at compromise is shot down by both sides because, well…the other side just isn’t willing to compromise “enough.”
(Never mind that there is no definition for what exactly is enough.)
Parents don’t communicate with their children, and their children are busy communicating strictly through their iPhones on Instagram and Twitter.
Which, by the way … as a marketing professional, I can tell you…if you want to start influencing millennials and those even younger, you need to take the conversation to where these people live. That’s currently Instagram and Twitter … not Facebook. Conservatives in America, *cough* *cough* take note.
Regardless of which side of the aisle you are on, the bottom line is that each of us (in general) feel love for America as a whole. Yes, there are vastly different visions for the future.
But ask yourself what kind of future you’ll have if we end up in another American civil war.
Yeah, but that’s the name of the game these days.
So, go be a game changer.