Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

July 3, 2014

Polarization: Part I

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series.

There is no doubt about it: Political polarization is the norm in D.C. and the states. A recent Pew Research Study, “Political Polarization in the American Public,” finds that political and ideological lines of division are not limited to the political elites but are embedded in the American public itself.

More and more are identifying with the extreme Left or the extreme Right. This division, according to Pew, leads to more negative results. These include a) more negative views of the opposing party, b) “rising tide of mutual antipathy,” c) personalization of politics; and d) less beneficial political compromise.

We are told that polarization is like the plague: Avoid it at all costs. There is nothing redeeming about split-voting, rancorous debate, mud-slinging on both sides, vitriolic accusations, slow to no movement on policy making, a divided Congress and Republicans versus Democrats. No good can possibly come about as a result.

Correct? Well, not so fast.

Lee Hamilton, former U.S. Representative from Indiana’s 9th District, wrote in November, 2010: “Let’s hope that congressional leaders listen to the American people as a whole, rather than simply play to their core constituencies, because the spiraling polarization they’re engaging in is clearly turning Americans off.”

Mr. Hamilton was reacting to the heated debate of the then mid-term campaign rhetoric; rhetoric that was so divisive and so negative that public opinion polls showed strong dislike on the part of the public toward the partisan bickering and wrangling.

But dial up a campaign. Stop and listen to Barack Obama lambast Republicans for obstructing policy progress, or hear Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lay into the Democrats for the umpteenth time, and polls show Americans responding best when the rhetoric is fiercest and most deeply dividing. The American populace may say they dislike polarization but their actions speak louder than their words.

Text Only
Columns
  • Spaulding Outdoors: The Inside on Indiana's Outside Nature’s BountyOur daughters were raised in the country and definitely couldn’t be considered “citified” children. Not with Dad around! From the time I was a little boy, I learned there are a lot of good things coming from the wild, and I set about e

    July 29, 2014

  • Word of advice So, what’s the word?Really, what is the word? With over 250,000 words in the English language, you’d think there would be a word for just about everything. Not so. Therefore, I am on a crusade to find a term for some everyday occurrences for which th

    July 29, 2014

  • 9/11 Commission chair scolds Congress for national security failures INDIANAPOLIS – Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous. A co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Ha

    July 29, 2014

  • Brian Howey: Rising up to meet Putin's thuggery BLOOMINGTON – Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of the Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my pa

    July 29, 2014

  • Pat Smith: A reader's special note Before beginning this week’s column it must be stressed that I love getting emails from readers, love getting telephone calls from readers and love seeing readers when I’m out and about – especially those who very generously tell me that they read th

    July 24, 2014

  • Spaulding Outdoors: The Inside on Indiana's Outside Early Migratory Bird 2014 Season Dates The 2014 early migratory bird season dates have been submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the Indiana DNR as listed below. The dates are not final until the USFWS approves them, which typically hap

    July 24, 2014

  • Why incumbents get reelected Incumbents are masters at posing as outsiders, when in fact they are insiders who produce the Congress they disdain. It’s no news that Congress is unpopular. In fact, at times it seems like the only real novelty on Capitol Hill would be a jump in its

    July 24, 2014

  • Lessons from the largely forgotten war As we approach the official date on which the First World War started, July 28, 1914, when the first shots were fired by the Austro-Hungarians who invaded Serbia, it’s appropriate to think about the lessons that catastrophic event has taught us one h

    July 24, 2014

  • Protecting Indiana's agricultural heritage With the 4-H fairs in full swing, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about agriculture. Since Indiana became a state back in 1816, agriculture has played a vital role in our livelihood. For those who are not from Indiana, our state is practica

    July 22, 2014

  • Improving Indiana's infrastructure It is always a happy time when my family visits, especially to celebrate a wedding. I recently played hostess for my niece and her wedding party when she was looking for somewhere to hold her rehearsal dinner. I absolutely enjoy when family comes to

    July 22, 2014