I hate to be the one to break it to you, but someone has to come out and say it: I don’t like you, and you don’t like me. And the same holds true for everyone else in the country.
We’re split down the middle and engaged in our second civil war. Not the blood and bullet kind (not yet, anyway), but a war of words and ideology that grows nastier every day.
Half of us can’t stand the other half’s guts. And the feeling is mutual.
Thanksgiving dinner was painful. A million diehard Fox News fans sat next to someone who loves MSNBC. Friends and relatives became stand-ins for the people they watch on TV. We couldn’t even recognize weird cousin Ashley and loud Uncle Bill; they looked to us like Anne Coulter and Keith Olbermann. Sarah Palin’s prayer was too long, and Al Gore made us all reuse our napkins. We should’ve made Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh sit at the kids’ table, the way they carried on.
Our perceptions of reality are so diametrically opposed that we must all be suffering from some form of insanity. One side sees Sarah Palin as the savior of all that’s good in America, and the other sees her as George W. Bush without the MBA. One side sees Obama as a cross between Hitler and the Antichrist; the other as Martin Luther King and George Clooney rolled into one. To half of us, Orrin Hatch’s voice is like fingernails on a blackboard. To the other half, it’s Al Franken’s.
Half of us like free markets; the other half like social programs. Half believe corporations are more trustworthy than the government; the other half, vice versa.
One side thinks someone’s gonna take away their guns and make their children recite the Koran in Spanish. The other side thinks women are gonna be forced to have babies and feed them transfats cooked on the engine of an SUV.
The thing is, none of us are going away. The people who support gay marriage are gonna keep supporting gay marriage no matter who wins the next election, and the people who hate abortion are gonna keep hating abortion. Short of a real civil war, or anarchy, or concentration camps, we’re going to have to live with each other. It may be a match made in hell, but it’s a marriage nonetheless.
There’s a reason why we’re split so evenly, and it’s not because half of us are stupid, evil or insane. It’s because there are reasonable arguments on both sides of every issue, and the more closely you look at any issue, the more complicated it becomes.
None of us worth listening to want to kill babies in America or civilians in Afghanistan. No one wants to destroy the environment or the American way of life. No reasonable person wants to force Christianity or Communism or homosexuality or hatred on school children.
The problem is that we’re spending too much time listening to the loud and crazy people we agree with and not to the reasonable people — either on our side or the other.
So I’m brokering a deal in hopes of saving Christmas — and the country: Righties, you need to give up Glenn, Sean and Bill in 2010. Lefties, for you it’s Keith, Rachel and Ed. The right can still watch Fox (just not the aforementioned), and the left can still watch Comedy Central. MSNBC can go back to being an unwatched cable news network, and Fox will look a lot more fair and balanced without its three most uncivil personalities.
Excellence in Broadcasting will have to go, but so will Air America. Lefties will still have NPR, Righties will have Christian radio, and we can all listen to the oldies together.
Published in the Mille Lacs Messenger, Dec. 9., 2009. Part of the entry that won the best columnist award for papers 2500-5000 circulation in 2011.