Streams

Opinion: Everything's Political, And it's Terrible

Monday, April 16, 2012 - 11:49 AM

Want to go on a date, but not encounter anyone who might challenge your world view? You might be interested in Republican People Meet, a site that allows you to date within the faith and not mingle folks with other beliefs. Or maybe you're a lefty who only wants to look for romance with other progressives - Democratic Match is for you.

Interested in the kinds of benefits the AARP can grant you as a retiree? Now you can join Generation America, a group billing itself as conservative alternative. Want to make sure the pizza chain you patronize stands up for your political ideals? Try Pizza Ranch - it's Christian pizza, with a ministry on the side.

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.

Here's why.

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?

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