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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/22/10

The Reality Of Politics Today In America

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The political climate in America today has never been so hostile and angry. Fueled by a daily bombardment of half-truths, lies, and innuendo from a cabal of ultra-right wing radio and television pundits and talk show hosts, the American public has bought into this harsh, polarizing rhetoric. And ironically America has become angrier, more polarized, and more hateful since the election of its first Black president. The sad thing is that President Barack Obama, the most liberal of American presidents, has not ushered in an era of racial and social harmony in a nation still sharply divided along race, class and ideological lines. Sadder still is the fact that he has done absolutely nothing to create this situation.

These days the national debate is being conducted in an atmosphere of extremes that help sustain anger and hostility that has bred intolerance to a new significant level. While public anger has always been a part of American politics it has now taken a shriller, harsher, and more pervasive path starting with the awful tenure of President George W. Bush and Dick Chaney and the rise of the "Imperial Presidency."

In many ways President Obama inherited this anger that has been amplified by a shaky economic situation at home, high domestic unemployment, and two very expensive unpopular wars abroad. In these circumstances, Mr. Obama has had to take some very drastic measures to shore up the American economy that included the financial bail out of Wall Street and the auto industry moves that have increased public anger and have proven to be vastly unpopular among ordinary Americans.

He's has to endure a particularly rancorous debate over healthcare reform made more difficult and complex by the vitriol of the Republican Right Wing and their "just say no" obstructionist agenda. Looking back in recent American history the degree of anger that Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush endured was like nothing compared to the prevailing public anger that President Barack Obama now faces.

Led by the Republican Party with a 19th century mindset and agenda, the face of public anger is the daily dose of unadulterated toxic drivel, lies and doctored truth peddled as objective information by people like Rush Limbaugh who has called the president "delusional," "behaving like Nero," "clueless" and just about every kind of obscene abuse imaginable. He's joined by Fox 5's Glen Beck who is in love with the loud screeching Tea Party Movement and who recently told the world that "one insane leader will bring death camps to America" a veiled allusion to President Barrack Obama.

According to http://www. "In recent years, at least twenty Fox News personalities have endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or causes, or against Democratic candidates or causes, in more than 300 instances and in at least 49 states. Republican parties and officials have routinely touted these personalities' affiliations with Fox News to sell and promote their events."

So that Fox 5 has become the willing mouthpiece and attack dog for the Republican Party and its supporters. Stoking unfounded fears and confusing an already angry electorate it is safe to say that while Americans have eviscerated Bill Clinton for his philandering ways, and George W. Bush for his warmongering, Barack Obama is being attacked for wanting to make America better and daring to do something though politically unpopular - to get it done. For the Republican Right Wing and its talking heads that makes him "a socialist."

This labeling of President Obama has its origins in the now completely discredited "Birther Movement" that claimed that the president was not an American citizen and so not constitutionally and legally qualified to hold the office of President of the United States. Given air time and legitimacy by the same elements on Fox 5 and now fired CNN anti-immigration commentator Lou Dobbs, the "Birther Movement" has now found a new home in the Tea Party Movement and has added its loony conjectures to the talking points of the Tea Party play book. These fringe lunatics have also brought their own doggy bags of anger, hate and hostility to this ultra-right wing group.

And that is another thing. This anger is constantly fueled daily by a humungous and unprecedented level of fear. Moreover, this fear and anger are also unique because they have infected both the Democratic and Republican parties. The outward manifestation of this situation is a Republican Party in Congress and its social base all very angry with President Obama and eager to make him a one-term president.

On the other hand, the anger in the Democratic Party has spawned a tiny cabal of elected officials that are rebelling against the president and caucusing with Republicans on race and conservative grounds. Remember: there are conservatives in the Democratic Party that are not too ideologically distant from their counterparts in the Republican Party and who are in sync when it comes to issues like abortion, for example.

These factors have given this national anger and fear a special kind of acrimony, vindictiveness and in-your-face brashness as recently evidenced when a little known Republican Congressman called the president a liar during the 2010 State of the Union Address and the fact that this ugly, disrespectful and uncouth moment resulted in this buffoon of a congressman raking in huge campaign bucks. The attacks against President Barack Obama stand out for their unique meanness and lack of respect for the office of the President of the United States.

Maybe it is normal American public behavior to beat up on their presidents. I don't know. But today's presidential attacks have become harsher and much more subjective than ever before thanks to talk radio and cable television that thrive on provocation, hostility, and rage that drive viewership, that in turn drive big advertising dollars. Journalistic integrity is now a thing of the past as networks deliver news in 5-minute snippets then push product advertising for another seven minutes conditioning the American public to internalize important issues in short bursts that leave no room for contemplation and analysis.

The present political culture in America is further driven by the depersonalized nature of the Internet and the fact that citizen journalism now comes in all kinds of shades and ideologies making anger and hate easily shared commodities. The daily blogs help package and deliver this negative fury, acrimony and enmity in politics and national matters where knee-jerk emotion reigns supreme, and where little constructive thought and examination define an intellectually lazy and "dumbed down" modern individual whose life is an endless series of little instant gratifications. Thinking has become an unimportant, tedious, boring and difficult pastime.

In the place of constructive though are the talk show hosts who now do "our thinking for us" infused with fury, outrage and indignation about issues and matters that people are force fed in little 5-minute segments. Politics in the Age of Obama is therefore more partisan, more ideologically rigid, fixed and homogeneous than ever before. Translated into plain English: In principle and with very few exceptions, Republicans are not going to support Democratic issues and Democrats will repay with the same political coinage.

The sorry end result is that in U.S. politics today if you are a Republican you are not going to support or like a Democratic president and vise versa. This degree of hostility from both parties have created dangerous, angry and hostile camps and echo chambers produced by new-fangled network news organizations that have aligned themselves with the major political parties and their ideological stances while acting in concert to create new "outreach" techniques that inflame and anger an already angry public. Thus, this negative pile-on phenomenon in the national debate has moved it beyond the pale of civility, respect and objective disagreement. It is now the norm to paint the President of the United States as a raving extremist and lunatic who is going to sell out America to real or concocted enemies.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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