The High Cost of Political Polarization

Political Storm was formed so that people could engage in honest dialogue

And hopefully find some common ground so that America can move ahead. We want to get people out of their echo chambers and engage with people, whatever their view, on issues facing the country. More to the point, we want folks to try to discuss things respectfully, without personally vilifying the other side. It’s destructive and wrong on many levels.

No greater example of the destructive nature of polarization can be found than the Brexit vote in the U.K and the aftermath. The reactions of the “leave” vote in the U.K, and in our own country have, predictably, broken down on partisan lines.

All hell has broken out in the U.K. Over here, on one side we have the political elites who are demanding a “do-over” as if the vote was just a practice run. Their position is that the “remain” voters were the young, university grads, mostly from urban areas – the so-called “dynamic” people. The “leaves” are the older, uneducated, working class white racists or xenophobes.

It gets worse. There are now reports of isolated acts of violence and harassment toward non-British people who live in the U.K., by bigots and xenophobes who now think they have license to act out.

The pound has lost its value and the stock market has been hit (although it looks to be stabilizing today). Some people are refusing to settle on their pending home purchases due to a perceived loss in property values.

Naturally, you’d ask: “So, where are the leaders of the Government?” “Where are the voices of leadership and reason?” Funny thing, the government is in disarray. There was no plan B, in case the vote was “leave.”

Right after the result was announced, David Cameron of the ruling Conservative Party, choking back tears, announced that he would resign. On the Labour side, more than two-thirds of the so-called “shadow government” have resigned. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader is also under pressure to resign.

It wasn’t until after the weekend that some of these alleged leaders called for calm and perspective. But the horse was out of the barn.

You see, Cameron bet everything on “remain,” and was crushed by losing, so much so that he forgot that he was actually the guy running the place. Labour leaders quit because they backed remain but Corbyn wasn’t adamant enough about “remain.” He’s rumored to have been a “leave” guy deep down in his soul.

So what should have been done and said by these “leaders?” Perhaps rather than running for the exits and moping about their loss of face and pointing of fingers, both parties could have come together and stated that they would abide by the will of the people and help the country stabilize.

They could have said that there was a plan in case the vote went that way and a bi-partisan group of leaders were already chosen for a committee that would plan the transition and next steps and would report back at a defined later date.

“In the meantime,” they could have said: “we’re still the U.K., the fifth biggest economy in the world and we will be okay one way or another- so chill (okay-my word)! And lest we forget, no migrants from Europe who are already are here need to worry. If you want to stay here, you will be allowed to stay. Nothing here will change until we review the bi-partisan recommendations. Oh and one more thing, we are known as one of the most tolerant nations on Earth and we expect our people to remember this.”

But they didn’t say this, you see, they were so tied up in their own viewpoint that they selfishly went about their own business. They so vilified the other side that they could not simply and objectively lead their nation. As of this writing, each side is still calling each other names. Not seeing other real people who disagree, just their stereotype. And so, chaos reigns.

Think this isn’t happening in the U.S.? On this issue alone, I read several pieces by establishment journalists that expressed the same polarized view on Brexit. They even repeated the same polarized views verbatim, from the U.K.

In the U.S. we are split between the Trump and Clinton views on Brexit: Donald’s okay with it and Hillary isn’t. The globalists like Obama and Kerry also have made it clear that they favor Europe.

The Republicans, who are backing away from Trump-more every day, don’t respect the will of the voters in their own party who chose Trump. They, like the political elites on the Democrat side, view the Trump people as aging, ignorant, racist and xenophobic white males.

They aren’t even seeing those people as real- they’re just a political cliché. By the way, the Trump supporters see the other side as evil too. Neither views the other side as their fellow Americans.

So using Brexit as an example, what if the President and the leaders of both parties in the U.S. had come together and said something positive about the U.S. relationship with the U.K. and that they trusted that an orderly transition would occur? They could have also reminded the world that the U.S. is the U.K’s largest trading partner and would always favor that relationship.

Maybe the markets would’ve calmed down. Maybe they could’ve calmed the worry in Europe. But that would have required that the U.S. so called “leaders” to put away their partisan interests and think as if they were simply “Americans.” You know-like leaders should.

If we can’t trust our hyper-partisan leaders to do this on an issue between the U.K. and Europe (a primarily local issue), why do we think we can trust them on Health care, the environment, education and the economy?

The answer is we can’t. That is the creeping danger of partisanship at all costs. And we need to reverse course right now folks.

Jon Saltzman is the Publisher and Senior Editor of Political Storm.