Thomasville Times Enterprise

Opinion

September 26, 2012

Dangerous division

— A couple of times in the last year or so, I have written on these pages about the canyon of ideological division that has been slowly developing in our nation.

 I fear the problem might be even worse than I thought.

 This past week, I have had three friends of mine — intelligent, hard-working folks — tell me they are making preliminary plans to permanently leave the country in the case that Barrack Obama is re-elected as our president.

 Then I overhear students in my classroom sharing what apparently is an increasing number of social media messages from friends of theirs who live in California, New York, and other left leaning areas speaking of plans being made for mass rioting in major metropolitan areas in the case that Mitt Romney wins the election.

 It would be easy to brush such thinking aside as being on the lunatic fringe, but doing so would ignore what is obviously a more prominent mindset than some of us might have ever believed possible in America.

 Just over a month ago, we had a judge — not some crackpot talking hairdo on TV or talk radio, mind you — again, a judge in Texas, warning people about potential “civil war” (his words, not mine) on the horizon if Obama is re-elected.

 I took the time to talk to other friends of mine about all of this as the week went along. These were friends from both sides of the ideological aisle. Almost shockingly, all of them kind of nodded their heads and said “what a shame” all of this was.

But none of them said anything to refute or condemn any of it, either.

 You can smirk if you want, but the fact that any of this is actually being discussed (and believe me, it is) should concern all of us.

Aren’t all of us, and by that I mean ALL of us as Americans, better than this kind of mindset? The “if my side doesn’t win, I’ll take my ball and leave or maybe destroy the property of innocent people and kill someone in the process” mindset is about as un-American as it comes, at least in my view.

 Somewhere along the line, we have totally forgotten what the word “moderation” means in regard to American politics. The true gift of America’s success in the past is absolutely rooted in two precepts: intelligent, respectful debate, and compromise.

 If you really don’t think people could actually be serious about leaving their homes behind because of political stuff, you better think again. Census data shows that more Americans have left California since 2005 than have come to live in it. The finding is a sharp contrast to earlier decades — 4.2 million Americans moved to California from other states between 1960 and 1990.

 In fact, a new study by The Manhattan Institute finds that the biggest beneficiaries of the population drain are Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Georgia and South Carolina.

Why? Lower cost of living, less government debt and a more business-friendly culture are the main drivers, according to the study. So if you think about it, all combined, it isn’t too crazy at all to think that some might even be willing to bail on their nation when the same factors are considered on a larger scale.  Again, based on the conversations I have had with more than one here in the last few days, it appears that idea is all too real for some.

 I don’t know about you, but regardless of who might win the November presidential election, the United States I thought I knew is supposed to be much bigger than any one man or woman. There is still much promise here yet unfulfilled, but simply bailing or running wild in the streets setting stuff on fire is not going to bring us closer to it.

 Will this election end up being very, very close regardless of which who wins? Yes. In spite of what any of the polls might tell you, the margin for victory for either candidate will be no more than 3 percent. Right now, the two candidates are basically in a dead heat.

 But that razor-thin closeness should illustrate fully to both of them just how serious an issue the division we are speaking of is at the moment. If that can come out of the process up front and center, then maybe, just maybe, real acknowledgement of that division can help bring about real and substantive change.

 My hope is simple: the election winner on Nov. 6 will see just how much division there is in our populace and will resolve to do their dead-level best to bring that populace back together, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans committed to finding answers to help our country as a whole, not only as a two-party system working with the media to do their dead-level best to keep pushing our country to polar extremes.

 I would hope all of us would at least be able to agree that’s the kind of change we really need for everyone involved.

 

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