Sunday, June 17, 2018

Are We More Divided Than Ever?

There's lots of doom and gloom around these days: democracy is failing; our constitution is obsolete; drastic changes are need; the center is not holding.  We can lose ourselves in pessimism.

I'm thinking back over my impressions of politics over my life:

  • In the Truman administration and early Eisenhower we had all the controversy over communism and corruption, subversion, and demagoguery.  In addition, we had lots of labor strife, with John L. Lewis, Walter Reuther, and Harry Bridges prominent.   
  • In the late Eisenhower administration through the Nixon years we had divisions over civil rights.  Killings and demonstrations, "massive resistance", axe handles, ugly hatred and the threat of race war. We had "Impeach Earl Warren".
  • In LBJ and Nixon we had Vietnam, with the Weather Underground and radical terrorists bombing buildings.  
  • We also had Watergate, which some any saw as a coup. And we had Roe v Wade and the associated controversy over abortion.
I'd say two things are different these days:  a loss of confidence in institutions, and Trump's absolute domination of the news.  I doubt there's any day since summer of  2016 in which the name of Trump doesn't appear on the front page of either the Post or the Times.  IMHO we have to get past the Trump administration before we can begin to understand this time.  (Similarly, we couldn't understand Nixon in 1972 and 73.)

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