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OPINION

Why We Don't Get Along Anymore

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

It seems that we are more divided than ever and cannot agree on anything. The question is why.

The contentious first bill of judicial reform passed this week through the Israeli Knesset 64-0. The opposition parties either did not show up or did not vote. Lopsided votes have become the norm—remember that not a single Republican voted for Obamacare. It seems that virtually every vote in the Congress for the past several years has been along party lines. The question is why this is so.

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Picture two climbers on adjacent mountains. Each has reached the top and encourages the other to join him. In the end, they decide to meet in the middle. They both jump, embrace, and then fall thousands of feet to their deaths. That analogy in a way describes where we are in political discourse today. A person who strongly believes that abortion is murder plain and simple talks with a friend who says that a fetus is a part of a woman’s body and she can do with it as she pleases—how are these two people going to find any common ground? Abortion up to six weeks—for our “conservative” person, it’s still murder and there is no place for abortion at any time. For our “progressive” friend, how dare any government infringe on a woman’s right to control her own body at any time during the pregnancy. There is no room for compromise. I still believe that abortion will be the Republican’s 2024 Waterloo issue, as the country and— more importantly—its voters generally have more liberal views of abortion than those being discussed by party leaders.

The same rings true for any discussions on climate. Just Stop Oil and similar groups are absolutely convinced that we are destroying our world and ourselves with it. They demand radical changes to the world economy that will lead to greater energy costs, increased poverty, and significantly reduced economic growth. Right-leaning voters have not been convinced that human activity is causing any of the supposed changes in climate and believe that the economic and energy costs are way too great to justify the changes demanded by Just Stop Oil and their compatriots. Natural gas was considered a compromise fuel—it is cleaner than coal but is still a hydrocarbon taken out of the ground. The climate alarmists in the US (but not in Europe) have lumped natural gas with coal as being unacceptable and refuse to consider nuclear, which produces no carbon dioxide. As with abortion, there is no common language and there is no basis for compromise and progress.

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Why can’t we find that middle ground that could be found under a Nixon or a Kennedy? Tip O’Neill worked with Ronald Reagan, and Newt Gingrich famously came to make successful legislation with Bill Clinton. Bipartisan legislation was common and “reaching across the aisle” was considered to be a good thing and not the action of traitors. I believe that in the past, legislators had far more in common. Depending on how far one wants to go back, they were all white males, Christians, and whether religious or not, had more or less the same views on Communism, homosexuality, abortion, and most other issues. They might debate whether recipients of welfare should have to work or how high business taxes should be, but the most basic views followed their religious and educational upbringing, and many of them were classmates. Making agreements was easier when those doing the dealing had a common language, religion, worldview, and background.

With the downward trend in religious observance and the growth of a strong secular society, the ability of “right” and “left” to communicate and understand each other has become nearly impossible. Many of the views held on the right, such as opposition to abortion, patriotism, a desire for energy independence, and being in favor of strong policing are a total anathema to our fellow citizens on the left based on their educational training and resultant world view. We touched on abortion. Who can be patriotic to a country founded in 1619 for the purpose of propagating slavery? Energy independence as we had under President Trump will bring the end of the world in a decade, while strong policing is racist as a large percentage of those arrested are minorities. We see even as cities such as San Francisco are overrun with homeless encampments, rampant shoplifting, open-air drug use, crime, and fleeing stores and citizens, those in charge—chosen democratically by their fellow citizens—will still not admit that their views and associated policies are failures and are leading to the destruction of what was once one of the most beautiful cities in America. One would hope that leaders could admit to their failures and change course. But when one is ideologically driven to action, the outcomes are less important than fidelity to the dogma. Target would rather lose money than not be considered woke enough; ditto for Hollywood—they will make movies that insult moviegoers as their driving force is acceptance by their peers and not financial returns for their investors. Social media only strengthens this ideological purity at all costs. The New York Times had a major internal battle when a Republican senator wrote an op-ed.

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About sixty years ago, there was an effort to have representatives of major religions work together. The subject was brought before Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik, who lived in Boston. He said that each religion has its own language, symbols, and history. The efforts of Jews, Catholics and Muslims working together should not touch on religion, of which there are major points of disagreement. Rather, the participants should focus on issues that concern everyone—crime, homelessness, cleanliness of the city, and the like. One would have hoped that today, leaders on the left and right could find subjects of mutual interest as a starting point for working together and hopefully building mutual respect. Every now and then, one sees a headline of Ted Cruz working with AOC or the like, but these are clearly the exceptions and not the rule. Since we cannot agree on climate or trans or an open border, then the only solution is winning at the ballot box in order to institute policies that we believe will be better for America and her citizens. The Republican Party seems to be doing little to nothing to build the framework for victory. Several state organizations are bankrupt. Will voters be encouraged to vote early? Will ballot harvesting be pursued where legal? Donald Trump trashes Ron DeSantis and somehow expects the latter’s voters to enthusiastically support him if he wins the nomination. America needs to get back to the things that worked like a strong military, energy independence, low business taxes, a secure border, functional schools, and safe and prosperous cities. The Republicans can be the ones to deliver the goods, but first they have to want to win.

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