We seem to be at war with ourselves. Is it just cultural and political that as yet hasn't translated itself into a societal breakdown? The Christian and political right seem completely alienated from the progressive left and that left is appalled at the seeming ignorance and overt religiosity of that right.
There seems to be no middle ground, no basis for compromise, a bad marriage that can't end in divorce.
The mindsets of each so repulsed by the other there is no communication, just revulsion and a feeling of contempt toward the other.
Each side speaks only to its own choir while portraying the other as un-American and unpatriotic "socialists" (the right) while the left sees the right as ill informed, propagandized, uneducated gun toting reactionaries.
Maybe it has always been a "house divided", never healed from the time Lincoln spoke those words a century and a half ago, warning as he did "it can not stand".
In 2008, a black man was elected president who invigorated a majority of people with hope (maybe unrealistic, yet unmistakable) but who was seen as an anathema to the far right leaning twenty five percent of the people.
All attempts by Obama to reach out and seek bipartisanship with that right was treated with derision, rejected out of hand and resembling a knee jerk reaction or an involuntary muscle spasm.
To the left it seemed the height of naivety, a foolish notion that gave rise to the "tea party" and the "town hall" yells fests from last summer's "debate" around health care reform.
How we view terrorism, war, even torture reveals the fundamental split of the two sides. To the right terrorists "hate our freedom" (words elicited by George Bush after 9/11), while the left sees terrorists as hating our policies and our hegemony over the Muslim world which is a catalyst for fomenting their hatred and the resultant acts of terrorism. The right sees our wars as going after those that attacked us on 9/11 and anything we do to "them" is justified. The left sees our wars as unnecessary, illegal, based on false assumptions i.e. weapons of mass destruction (that didn't exist) against a foe (Saddam Hussein and Iraq) that was not an imminent threat. And torture was line we hadn't crossed or at least was never sanctioned and authorized as legal by those in power.
The two extremes seem irreconcilable, the breech a chasm growing deeper and wider.
One wonders, can this "marriage" go on like this indefinitely? Another Pearl Harbor type attack is highly unlikely in the future, the last time the nation came together as one to defeat a real external imperialist foe bent on conquering us and the world. The cold war ended twenty years ago, eliminating a potential foe and antagonist that had the capability to annihilate us and us to them. Now" there are no real threats against us, accept those we have contrived to make them appear as real.
So with no real external enemies, what is left is how this piece began. We seem at war with ourselves and we've turned the sights onto ourselves.