VOICES: It’s time to ‘take a closer’ look at ourselves and our divisive politics

In Ideas & Voices’ “taking a closer look” columns over the years, many contributors have talked about the problems within our region and our country as well as the hopes and dreams of many of us.

I want to “take a closer look” at us, We the People, for our problems will be more difficult to solve and our hopes and dreams will be more difficult to realize unless we pull out of our political abyss we have chosen to dig for ourselves.

I can unequivocally state that the vast majority of Americans, regardless of party affiliation, are good people. We give financially to charities as well as volunteer for numerous charitable organizations. We are there to help those who are not only suffering from natural disasters but also those who are the victims of war in foreign countries. We support the cancer, heart, and multiple other medical research organizations as well as animal and environmental watchdog organizations. Most of us don’t have political axes to grind when we contribute. In 2021, we gave $484.85 billion in charitable dollars. Of that amount, individuals contributed $326.87 billion, which was 67% of total giving. Americans, generally, are a kind, giving and empathetic people.

When it comes to politics, however, we bury our heads in the muck of our ideology and refuse to “take a closer look” at ourselves. A lot of us become irrational defenders of the candidate and party of our choice. We refuse to recognize the weaknesses of our preferred candidate and the strengths of the opposing candidate. Political discussions become caustic and toxic. To many in this hyper partisan era of politics, it’s an “either you are with me or you are against me” approach. As Dr. Daniel Shapiro, an expert on negotiation and conflict resolution and founder of the Harvard International Negotiation Program states, “And should we feel an assault on our sacred values – the core of our identity – our anger turns to outrage, hardening the lines of division.”

This is a government “of the people, for the people, by the people” and we’ve allowed ourselves to be hijacked by various liberal and conservative media outlets as well as some of the more radical elements of Congress. More specifically …. and maybe not so shockingly …. was the recent revelation that the stars, producers, and executives of Fox News knew that the 2020 election was not a stolen election yet, for ratings purposes, they continued to promote that the election was stolen. Where’s the outrage? Have we become numb to half-truths and blatant lies?

We listen to our favorite cable news station with an unyielding reverence. It’s so much easier to reinforce our beliefs by listening to our favorite station than it is to challenge our beliefs. I listened to MSNBC the morning after President Biden’s State of the Union address and the hosts were ebullient about the address and extremely critical of Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sander’s Republican rebuttal. Time to flip over to Fox News. I was not surprised. The hosts’ comments were the polar opposite of the MSNBC comments on both Biden’s address and Huckabee Sander’s statement.

This is not an indictment strictly of the conservative media outlets. There’s enough blame to go around when it comes to news coverage on the left as well. Our political worlds have been manufactured by the political cable news networks and We the People have been sucked right into their biased slant on politics. We are just as culpable for the political divisiveness today. It’s time to take a closer look at ourselves.

R. Gregg Cross lives in Xenia and has been an American Government and World Geography teacher for 35 years with the Beavercreek school system.

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