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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dynamics in U.S. politics in 2016 capable of damaging all manner of relationships.

As is typical of someone from my generation, I always find myself comparing the present to the past.  The United States of 2016 is no doubt split by political ideologies that could not be more further apart.  When I think about the different stages of my life, I am unable to recall a time when Americans were so politically polarized.  The Red State voter is motivated by a deep resentment for Barack Obama, and the Blue State voter is exhibiting the same kind of emotion for Donald Trump.  Personally, I hate this time of year.  It seems to be impossible to express oneself politically without offending a friend here and there.  Recently my blog posts have been more political, and I also post the occasional news link on Facebook.  Each time I post a political blog, I find myself worried about possibly offending friends with different political ideas.  I wonder, am I the only one who feels this way?  I can think of three friends in particular, one in Washington, one in Tennessee, and one in New York City, for whom I have tremendous respect and admiration.  All three work very hard, and have created successful careers and relationships.  I don't know how or why we ended up on the opposite end of the political spectrum, but here we are.  With Social Media at everyone's fingertips in one form or another, it only takes a few seconds to write a political comment or link an online article.  Recently, one of my friends posted his thoughts about Donald Trump, and I agreed with much of his assessment.  In totality, though, I did not agree with main thrust of his argument.  I wanted to reply, and provide my perspective. Then I remembered, how many times have I written something that rubbed him a bit raw?  Probably more times than I would like to admit.  Don't get me wrong; none of my friends are thinned-skinned.  All three love to laugh and reflect on some of the more absurd daily details of life.  The problem is with me.  Actually, the problem is with a bunch of folks, not just me.

Lets face it: roughly one-half of the country is conservative and one-half is not.  You know just as well as I do that the two separate voting groups are for the most part, cemented to their overall political perspective.  Nothing I post in my blog is going to change someone's mind about not voting for Donald Trump, and no amount of reasonable argumentation is going to convince someone in Midland, Texas, to vote for Hillary Clinton.  No doubt the recent past was different.  During the elections of the 1970's and 80's, the Independent voter accounted for more than ten percent of the electorate.  It was possible to sway an undecided voter here and there with a well-argued commentary or speech.  You would think that in 2016, if the Independent voter is down to three or four percent, and the rest of the country is evenly split, that the Independent voter would be even more valuable today.  I just don't buy it anymore.  When Trump spends the next week, screaming himself hoarse before thousands and thousand of supporters, he will not be impacting his final vote tally, and neither will Hillary, campaigning with Elizabeth Warren in Rhode Island one day and Joe Biden in Delaware the next.  This election will work itself out in a fashion very similar to 2008 and 2012.  The side that motivates its voters to not only get to the polls, but to drag two or three like-minded voters along for the trip, will reap the rewards of victory.  The Democrats have run circles around the GOP when it comes to registering and getting people to the polls on election day, so the Republican Party had better be working up a sweat chasing down those unregistered conservative voters.  I think that this election will highlight the importance of the precinct workers more than every before.  In 2012, a number of odd things accurred in certain respective precincts across the nation.  It was nothing that would have impacted the final outcome, but both sides are being very careful to ensure precinct representation.

So why do we keep writing blogs, and linking stories, and watching debates, when we all know that our efforts aren't changing the mind of even one voter?  Since I know that turnout and getting voters to the polls will have the real impact on this election, then why did I link that article today on Facebook which trashed Obamacare in Alaska?  Can anyone out there who reads my blog (U.S. citizens only, please) honestly say that some random blog post of mine from the last year caused you to reconsider your choice for president?  I have been trying to keep my political commentaries and links to a minimum, but inevitably something I read online will nag at me until I offer a rebuttal.  The truth is, I like my friends and I don't want them to think that our political differences have the power to put a strain on our friendships.  The three individuals of whom I speak are truly amazing people and I am fortunate to know them.  I am beginning to consider the possibility that we have become so different in the way we view our nation and how we believe society should evolve, that the time has come to separate.  I realize we tried it once before, but I dare say the circumstances are different.  Red State and Blue State citizens seem to be so polarized, that maybe we would all get along so much better if we just went our separate ways.  Have you looked at the violence that accompanies political rallies today?  Its disengenuous to blame Trump; American flags were getting burned and Mexican flags waved long before Donald decide to bully his way into this election.  The truth is, we are like an old married couple that have grown apart, and for some reason, sentiment probably, we refuse to even begin the discussion of separation.  Here is the reality, folks.  Red Staters were not happy with many of the developments of the Obama years, and if Trump wins, I can guarantee you that the Blue Staters will be at least as agitated with some of Trump's actions.  Keep in mind, he has already announced his willingness to utilize Executive Action in the same manner as his predecessor.  At the end of the day, I hope we can find a way to reach across the divide and not aggravate our friends with opposing viewpoints.  Maybe we can get past this election without having to split apart as well.  Its possible that an emeny may invade our towns and cities and force us to remember the things that kept us together all these years.  God Bless America.  

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