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AT THE BREAKING POINT

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 25, 2015

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Ramblings regarding the ideological divide in this country.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Liberal friends simply do not understand my comments and resent it when I take a stand against their agenda. I am often accused of being insensitive or unreasonable. As an aside, have you ever noticed you are “unreasonable” when you do not agree with the other person’s position? It’s like saying, “Agree with me or I’ll call you a name.” Conversely, my conservative blood boils when I listen to the liberal diatribe. I look at them as if they have lost all sense of reality and common sense.

Keep in mind, I have many friends who are Liberals, and aside from this foible, I enjoy their company. I suspect they feel likewise with me. The truth is though, a line in the sand has been drawn and neither side wants to cooperate. My politics have cost me some friends, but I would rather cut them off than listen to their blather, and I suspect they feel likewise about me. It is like we are living in two interpretations of America. Consider the recent speech by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to a joint meeting of Congress; One speech, two entirely different interpretations. The point is, it is not that we just have gridlock in government but we also suffer with it in our society, putting us very much at edge as to what should be considered right and wrong.

We have gone from mere friendly jousting, to testy debates, to visceral attacks, followed by a break in relations. Courtesy and civility are quickly lost. For example, liberals will often try to bait me with antagonistic comments. I learned a long time ago not to lower myself to their level and simply delete their comments as opposed to responding to them. Face it, whatever I say will be rebuffed with insolence. The liberals go bananas when I delete their comments, but I remind them this is my column and they are welcome to write their own as opposed to poisoning mine.

Today, we are being asked to choose political sides in just about every institution we are involved in, be it companies or nonprofits. Consequently, we gravitate to those groups who share our interest and the chasm widens further. Frankly, we do not respect our opponents and the noise level rises with the passing of each day.

As conservative talk radio host Joy Tiz explains it, the way you fight the liberals is with facts. Yet, for every fact Conservatives produce, Liberals will have a conflicting one. Again, inconsistencies in the truth. Even when a hard fact is presented to the other side, they reject it. For example, when I point out the Gross Domestic Product is a paltry 2.2% (as reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce who monitors such figures), my opponents will argue this is simply not true, or attempts to misdirect the dialog to some other observation, e.g., “It’s Bush’s fault” or how “unreasonable” I am being.

It has been my observation conservative attacks are less visceral than liberals, but I’m sure the left would argue otherwise. Whereas liberals relish a comedic stab at conservatives, they cannot seem to accept it when the tables are turned. Even SNL producer Lorne Michaels admitted this recently. Whereas conservatives tend to take bitter satire with a grain of salt, the slightest malignment of liberals is treated like heresy.

This is not the first time I’ve discussed this subject, but the discourse seems to get more vicious with the passing of each year. It is similar to the relationship Fox News has with the main street media who would like nothing better than to see Fox obliterated. Yet, Fox continues to win the ratings wars. Maybe the reason Fox succeeds is because there are still more conservatives than liberals in this country, at least according to Gallup. Liberals are baffled by this which fuels their energies to “take down” anything remotely related to conservatism. They try to intellectualize their arguments and make the other party feel stupid, but the reality is, the other side is not buying it as it goes against common sense.

If you dare to criticize President Obama, the typical response is, “Where was all this venom when George Bush was in office? He did more to ruin the country than any president before or after him.” Somehow the left suffers from selective memory. I cannot think of a president more maligned by the left than George W. Bush, and this includes Richard Nixon.

In an interview years ago, John Wayne made the observation his generation of actors didn’t discuss politics when working on a picture. Everyone knew each other’s politics, which varied wildly, but to maintain harmony on the set, politics was considered a taboo subject. The studio brass also encouraged their stable of actors and actresses to remain quiet on politics outside of the studio as it would hurt them at the box office and their popularity with the public. This is no longer the case in Hollywood where people vent their opinions openly on camera or in front of the paparazzi. So much so, Hollywood is also split along ideological lines, with conservatives in the minority and losing work due to the liberals who control the studios and produce movies. Today, if you do not have the right politics, your career is threatened. Ask Dennis Miller, Janine Turner, Victoria Jackson, or Clint Eastwood whose “American Sniper” movie lost at the Oscars because it offended liberal sensibilities.

Perhaps the biggest difference between then and now is the media’s spin on the news today, and social media where we post any joke or news item that tickles our fancy. When it is spread over the Internet to the hundreds or thousands of “friends” we have, it inevitably triggers some form of response, be it for or against, and the battle lines draw tighter.

At a high school class reunion a couple of years ago, I was asked to give a eulogy for the classmates who passed away. Some people objected and worried I would turn it into a political platform. As someone who has led several Masonic funerals over the years, I take this matter rather seriously, and delivered the class eulogy with poise and aplomb (at least my classmates told me so). My message and delivery surprised those who were afraid I would turn it into a political donnybrook. They were simply mystified I could deliver such a speech.

The point is, the battle lines have been formed and I see it only getting worse. I believe, everything will somehow end up in court based on nothing more than our discourse (as if our courts have nothing better to do than interpret First Amendment rights).

The confrontation between left and right is getting so strong, it reminds me of the rifts developed during the American Civil War, pitting father against son, brother against brother, and neighbor against neighbor. So, the question becomes, has America become dysfunctional over politics? Maybe not yet, but we are getting dangerously close. Perhaps next year’s election results will tell the story. After suffering through eight years of government stagnation, if something doesn’t change, we may very well see a another episode of father against son, brother against brother, and neighbor against neighbor. I see no alternative. Do you?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  YOU’RE FROM WHERE? – America is a country separated by a common language.

LAST TIME:  PROJECT MANAGEMENT INTEGRATION  – Success resides in taking an integrated approach, not piecemeal.

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7 Responses to “AT THE BREAKING POINT”

  1. Kevin Schachter said

    While I do not disagree with this assessment, I do feel that the best solutions lie somewhere in a compromise between the left and right.
    Unfortunately, the status quo with our elected officials seems to restrict this.
    I do however enjoy the discourse with you, and others to the right of me, but only when their positions are educated and well thought out as yours typically are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kevin Schachter said

    Sorry, that should have said I “DO” agree with the assessment.

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A W.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “You know, it’s ‘funny’ you mention this phenomenon.

    “Way back when” I was in high school, and the presidential election was between LBJ and Barry Goldwater, we weren’t yet allowed to vote at 18, but the Viet Nam war was going on big-time, and every teenaged boy was fretting about getting drafted and sent to ‘Nam.

    In fact, in Tulsa, so many teenaged boys went to college to get that II-S deferment that the draft board had to raise the minimum GPA required to keep that deferment from 2.0 to 2.5 – which caused quite a few students “on the bubble” to go out and enlist in the Navy or Air Force to avoid the Marines and Army that were taking most of the draftees. We said Barry Goldwater was dangerous – not necessarily because he was, but because he talked like he wanted to escalate the war (which, of course, LBJ actually did). So young people would go around with signs and chant “AuH2O is no solution” (the AuH20 part is “Gold – Water – and gold will not dissolve in water, therefore it couldn’t be a ‘solution.’) to any of the adults we saw with Goldwater bumper stickers on their cars. We thought we were being pretty sophisticated coming up with that one.

    Now a few years later, many of my generation found themselves in the military as the war wound down. Some of us stayed in for a career but most simply returned home and resumed a more “normal” life after their mandatory service time.

    Growing up in Oklahoma at a time when it was a solidly democratic state, but typically went republican for the president, I never paid much attention to “politics” back then…I always thought it was a waste of time. Now, fast forward to today.

    My best friend from high school transferred to University of Chicago (that should give you a tip-off right away) after his sophomore year and his divorce from his first wife and got his PhD in Mathematics. He would later find his way to the state of New Hampshire and work for Fidelity Investments until he was laid off (and subsequently embraced retirement) a few years back. We are now “friends” on Facebook – so we see a lot of things going on in each other’s lives. In fact, he – like me – has two daughters, one of whom has the same birth date (one year earlier) as my oldest daughter and the separation in years between his daughters is almost the same as mine (7 years). Now, it turns out he and his current wife are what I will call “flaming liberals” – and while I steadfastly declare that I’m an INDEPENDENT voter – refusing to align with either main party – I TEND to vote more on the social liberal but fiscally conservative issues although not exclusively. OK, I’ve laid the ground work for this one. We still maintain our friendship although I haven’t laid eyes on him since he left for University of Chicago probably back in around 1968 or so. In fact, he and his first wife lived in the apartment directly below ours while we both attended the University of Tulsa – and he divorced after just one year of marriage. In fact, he’s the one that got me interested in ham radio in 1963, and both of us are still active in that hobby. Also, another important thing – even though we seem to be at opposite ends of a political spectrum, we are still friends and will either banter politely, OR we will choose to not “go down that road” with each other simply because it won’t be a productive conversation.

    Now another side of this one is my wife’s home town. She lived in a very small town (~5000) on the Red River in Oklahoma. Her dad owned the local bank, was a staunch democrat as was her mother. In fact, her dad met with Ronald Reagan at a political rally when Reagan was still a Democrat. Her parents NEVER discussed politics with us, neither did mine (my dad was died-in-the-wool Republican, Mom a Democrat). So, being one of the “well-to-do” “hoi-polloi” in that town, you have to say that today, they would be ASSUMED to have been republicans and conservatives. In fact, my father-in-law SEEMED to be fiscally conservative and only slightly socially liberal in all the years I knew him. Anyway, my wife had a very close friend growing up – who ended up going to medical school, becoming an ER doc, but never marrying (subsequently I find that he’s gay). Anyway, he is what we commonly call that “flaming liberal” we hear that uses harsh words and comparisons any time you mention the word “conservative” (which he automatically equates with republicans in his mind). I found him on Facebook a while back and said “hi” and we listed each other as “friends”. This was going along fine and dandy, because I knew his parents quite well from visits to my in-laws over the years. Eventually, he reposted something from a friend of his (subsequently found out it was probably his “partner”) that was quite abusive and vulgar of conservatives and republicans. I don’t even remember what the specific topic was. I took what I felt was a rather “neutral” stance on commenting, pointing out that absolutes are rarely correct characterizations and this guy just about went non-linear calling me every kind of vulgar name in the books and dropping a few “F-bombs” in the course of his diatribes, even though he and I do not know each other. At some point, he simply blocks me from replying to his comments, and I later find out my wife’s childhood “friend” has blocked me as well…without any particular reason or comment ….

    Now, it doesn’t bother me all that much, but what DOES bother me is that I, like you, have found what liberal-oriented friends I have tend to use expletives and nasty words about ANYTHING and ANYONE that espouses an opinion contrary to theirs, regardless of whether they are republican, libertarian, or just independents with a conservative lean. They adore FL (Fearless Leader) and denounce anyone who says anything unkind about him or those in leadership positions in the democratic party. And, while I find many of my ardent conservative friends use what I’ll call “nasty” comparisons when they talk about republicans (or even libertarians any more) they aren’t vulgar or inciteful.

    You are correct in concluding that our “gridlock” in congress, which is due mostly to this “line in the sand” mentality that we see between the two main ideologies, is merely a reflection of the same attitudes the public has. That’s why there is so much animosity. No one is willing to compromise their position to make something work … it’s an “all or nothing” situation, “do or die” kind of attitude, and at this point in time the liberal element has figured out what it takes to win elections and thus the power to make things happen…albeit slowly because there is insufficient power to make everything a “slam-dunk.” They TELL the people what they think they want to hear, not what they NEED to hear. The people BELIEVE them, because it’s what they WANT to believe, and the circle is complete. Republicans haven’t figured out what it really will take to win the big prize(s) yet, and they think that 2014’s elections portend a great shift for 2016. Nothing could be further from the truth if they don’t wake up. The public’s memory is woefully short, and if we aren’t careful, we’re going to see a swing back in the other direction that will create even more distrust, more disgust, and more animosity in the political world.

    It is interesting to see how the characterizations of the policies and personality of those in halls of power are expressed by folks who are their supporters and those who would like them replaced (from both sides, actually). Strident, I think, is about the kindest word I can come up with.”

    Like

  4. Chris Payne said

    Very well said.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  5. sirchristiantheheck@reagan.com said

    I’m so damn mad over all those things you mentioned that are ALL absolutely correct. As you ask repeatedly, I will try to KEEP THE FAITH.

    Like

  6. […] AT THE BREAKING POINT […]

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