Steffen Schmidt, IAFC Blogger
Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Iowa State University, WNYC blogger, and chief Political correspondent of Insider Iowa.
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This level of compartmentalization of business and services into the political realm marks a new polarization in our political discourse. But a separation from each other by ideology or faith across our day-to-day life is potentially not a good idea.
In order for politics and society to function effectively, we've developed behavioral principles that improved the likelihood of a peaceful and stable sociopolitical order with a minimum of coercion or force. But the principles of cooperation, fairness and opportunity, which we succeeded in establishing over the past two centuries, have now been badly eroded.
Greed is not only seen as good but the idea that "more and more" is being sanctioned as the hallmark of our society. Many politicians don't believe Darwin's theory of evolution should be taught in schools, but they do ascribe to the ideas of "survival of the fittest" and rugged individualism. Being your "brother and sisters keeper" has been put on hold.
From a leadership perspective, our political parties have lost the ability to talk to each other. Special interest groups, powerful and wealthy individuals and the partisan, entertainment-centered "new" media have now seized control of the political process. That's an unacceptable surrender of the basic principles of a democratic political process.
Can we radically reform any of these fundamental problems or are we destined to slowly muddle along into decay as many are predicting? That, not the trivialities on which our politicians are wasting time is the crucial challenge of our times?