Many of us are wondering what happened? We grew up with the saying don’t discuss religion or politics at social gatherings and we all pretty much got along and felt we had more in common than not. We were all basically on the same page.* But today, people will just share a tidbit and it’s like what are they talking about? Where did that come from? It’s like we’re in two different realities! Well, we’re in the middle of a culture war! It’s us versus them, and most of us didn’t or don’t even know it.
Apparently, the secular left and conservative Christians are at war, and the rest of us in the middle are just along for the ride. Politically correct coastal elites who are pro-choice, pro-gay and civil rights are seen as an assault on religious freedom, while the conservative Christians are pro-life, pro-religious liberty and are anti-gay, anti-civil rights and anti-intellectual.
The conservative Christian Right believes the government is too far left, secular and anti-Christian. This is why the Republicans are so focused on appointing conservative judges. They will be able to overrule changes proposed by those elected from the left. Since the majority of voting Americans are Democrats, Republicans have to pack the courts to override the majority. They also use this view of government to call it too big and to justify deregulation and the gutting of essential agencies, ironically, hurting that which was in place to protect them.
Somehow gun rights activists, white supremacists and generally aggrieved white males who fear being a minority in a browning America have joined forces with the religious right conservatives. Generally, they are informed by the likes of Fox News and conservative, right-wing media. I am not even sure the hosts of conservative shows actually believe in the ideology they espouse or if they’re just telling people what they want to hear while making tons of money.
This simple dichotomy informs many views and decisions; Religion-good, government and knowledge-bad. Some who have joined this group kinda just tolerate the former or substitute religion with jingoistic patriotism, but jump on the latter full-in. Together, they are an anti-government force.
This division is destroying our country and the answer is in the middle not in the extremes. Sadly, the destruction is not noticed by most, as a sense of righteousness from either extreme is blinding. We need to come to the table while not destroying it before honest debate begins. Democracy only works if we do it together.
* Footnote: When I grew up, we only had three television networks that provided the same or very similar news and to get other views you had to read a book or meet with others in person, while today there are hundreds of cable news and talk radio shows offering very divergent views 24/7. And, many don’t seem to realize that their view is extreme or slanted.