“When quacks with pills political would dope us, When politics absorbs the livelong day, I like to think about the star Canopus, So far, so far away,” so wrote Bert Leston Taylor, a not-so-long-remembered humorist, poet, and long-time columnist for the Chicago-Tribune.
A few weeks back I understood Taylor perfectly.
But, you know, it isn’t so much the absorption “of the livelong day,” as the rancid polarization between liberals and conservatives in this country that causes me the greatest concern. It’s not anything new, actually. The polarization of political thinking in this country has been prominent for at least a century.
The rancor between Theodore Roosevelt and his once choice for the presidency William Howard Taft became so pronounced that Roosevelt formed the Bull Moose Party in an attempt to deny Taft a second term. It worked, but it backfired. Both Roosevelt and Taft lost to the Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
Out-spoken Republicans who believed that Franklin D. Roosevelt was destroying this country with his peculiar form of socialism tried three times to throw him out of office, but only a cerebral hemorrhage not long after his fourth election to the presidency succeeded.
Polarization was never more prominent than it was between followers of the “Man from Missouri,” Harry Truman and his opponent elitist Republican dandy, New York Governor Thomas Dewey.
In none of the above cases, however, with the arguable exception of FDR, was the citizenry so divided and determined as it is today. So much so, that many people who pay attention to such things wonder if November 9th, the day after Election Day 2016, a socio-political revolution in this country might be sparked.
As long as I can remember, social, political and religious differences have separated into groups people who see “things” differently. But never, as long as I can remember, have we seen anger, hatred, revenge and discrimination become real weapons employed against opposed races, gender groups, nationalities, and political parties in this country.
As a matter of fact, we have reached a boiling point. We are actually hearing people talk about a possible revolution. We are hearing politicians threaten a post-election period of non-acceptance of the outcome—threatening the basic principles of our democracy. We are hearing a call to arms! We are witnessing the unreasonable and unmitigated murders of police officers who are doing nothing but sitting in their squad cars, minding their own business.
We are seeing increasing numbers of crimes committed between the races; burgeoning, adamant refusal to accept the rule of law–laws which have been passed to guarantee civility, due process and the rights of individuals who are different for one reason or another.
Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
He also said “If we do not make common cause to save the good old ship of the Union on this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.”
If we do nothing more in the next four years, let us work together to build bridges—literally and figuratively.