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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

AT THE BREAKING POINT

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- Ramblings regarding the ideological divide in this country.

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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!

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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.

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