About 15 years ago, I was hooked on a TV show.
It’s probably not what you’re thinking. I mean “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” is great and all, but that wasn’t the show.
It was a show on a cable news network called “Crossfire” where politicians, journalists and consultants would sit across from each other and debate the hot-button issues of the day. One would defend the liberal approach. The other supported the conservative side.
I was such a fan of the show, I drove to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., with a friend to watch a live taping. Yes, I am a nerd.
But, that show ended around 2005, after a former host of “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart, went on the program, begging and pleading with them to stop because the series was “hurting America.” He went on to call the show partisan hackery.
It was a confusing interview as Stewart admitted he watched the show “every day” but was convinced that this form of political debate was bad for the country. And while I did agree that, sometimes, passions would flare and the debates would get a little heated, many of the guests would walk away shaking hands in the end.
While Stewart had a few good points about the “theater” of it all, at the time it was the only place I could go, aside from “Hannity & Colmes,” to hear both sides of an argument.
Fast-forward 15 years and many of us have become so polarized in this country that we’ve trapped ourselves inside bubbles and refuse to listen to other points of view. We unfriend those on social media whom we disagree with, we refuse to watch certain news outlets because of their perceived biases, and some will even boycott retail brands because they disagree with the viewpoints of one of the executives.
So, we stopped talking to each other. And, if you ask me, that’s hurting America.
While it’s easy to cast those on the other side of the political spectrum as “deplorable” or “elitist,” it’s not so easy to find common ground. So, many of us have given up trying. But there’s a lot of common ground to find. While many on the fringes of the spectrum will never agree on some things, I believe there are a lot more things we have in common than we’d like to admit.
We all want good-paying jobs. And almost all of us want better and more affordable health care, better infrastructure, more choice and more freedoms. While we may not agree on the specifics of the approach, I believe most of us want clean air and water, good and affordable education for our children, and to protect our Bill of Rights.
We all love our children and want them to grow up in a country that affords them plenty of opportunities while keeping them safe and secure. While we may get passionate about our politics, I think most of us agree that family comes first.
What’s especially troublesome about today’s political climate is that the worst offenders of living in a bubble are our elected politicians. Seriously, when was the last time Congress was able to compromise on a bill? It used to be the norm, now it’s extremely rare.
Of course, if you’re tired of the partisan aspect of politics, you do have a voice at the polls. If you’d like to see more compromise from our representatives and senators, elect those who choose to compromise, like Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine or West Virginia’s own Sen. Joe Manchin (D).
We need to get back to the days of friendly debate and compromise.
Try this: While you’re sitting around the TV, watching the Lions and Bears play football after your upcoming Thanksgiving feast, talk to your relatives — yes, even those. You might find out that your racist uncle shares your love for the Cowboys or that hippie cousin is a giant Sturgill Simpson fan, just like you.
And, maybe we can start talking again.