OK...Deep breath...Here goes....
Welcome. Somehow or other, you found your way here, so I hope it's worthwhile enough and you decide to come back often.
I've decided to call this blog CenterFeud, and I started it because of my frustration with the increasing polarization of politics around the world and in the US. Everywhere you look, people, parties, nations and cultures are facing off: Left and Right, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, religious traditionalists and secularists. All of these tensions are not new; in fact they are longstanding. But the rhetoric seems to be getting ever more strident, and divisions seem to be deepening.
In the US alone we are in a "Second American Civil War" according to radio talk show host and author Dennis Prager.
Whatever your politics, you have to be oblivious to reality to deny that America today is torn by ideological divisions as deep as those of the Civil War era. We are, in fact, in the midst of the Second American Civil War.
Of course, one obvious difference between the two is that this Second Civil War is (thus far) non-violent. On the other hand, there is probably more hatred between the opposing sides today than there was during the First Civil War. And I am not talking about extremists. A senior editor of the respected center-left New Republic just wrote an article titled, "The Case for Bush Hatred," an article that could have been written by writers at most major American newspapers, by most Hollywood celebrities, and almost anyone else left of center. And the conservative hatred of former President Bill Clinton was equally deep.
Now if your politics lean left, the mere words "radio talk show host" are enough to set off alarm bells, and you have already passed summary judgment on Mr. Prager: no doubt one of those hate-filled right-wing neanderthals who shouts down everyone who dares to disagree with him. Except that, like most stereotypes, this totally misses (dare I say) the nuance - Prager is in fact a warm, thoughtful commentator who respectfully engages in dialogue with his callers and frequently brings on guests with opposing points of view. Far from the stereotype of the fire-breathing conservative, Prager considers himself to be a "JFK Liberal", which he admits makes him a conservative by contemporary standards. In fact until 1992 he was a Democrat. I mention this only to make the point that part of this polarization is the way we quickly pigeonhole people and institutions without really taking the time to understand them or their point of view.
With respect to Prager, I think referring to the polarized politics of today as a "second civil war" overstates the case a bit, but it's useful as a metaphor, as are the shorthands "culture wars" and "Red America vs. Blue America". There is indeed an ongoing feud, a battle of ideas and world views. It will be fought on both the Left and Right.
But it will be won in the Center.