What happened to America?

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a Republican. That said, I am not a Democrat, either. I’m a registered Independant, following one of George Washington’s famous pieces of advice: to avoid partisan politics.

I find myself in a strange position, ideologically speaking. Being from the East Coast, I have a predictably liberal bent when it comes to social issues: I’m pro-choice, not because I want people to have abortions, but because I think the government has no right telling you if you can, or can’t have one. I’m pro civil unions (speaking freely, government should stop mucking about in the sacrament of mariage anyways, let churches decide that issue for themselves), and pro gun-control (can’t we all agree that convicted felons shouldn’t be able to purchase assault weapons?). If you haven’t banned me yet, excellent.

By contrast, I’m more leaning right in terms of fiscal and foreign policy. I’d like a tax policy that rewards hard work, promotes economic growth, but which does not regressivly hit the lower class. I believe we need a strong posture of defense, but that we should not be bellicose about our strength.

Enough about me- that was merely some brief background on myself.

My questions is this: when did we (Americans, on the left and on the right) forget the meaning of the term ‘civil discourse’?

The faux outrage is sickening, on both sides. It is created artifically to get a rise out us. The politicians figure if they make our blood boil enough, they can squeeze in a few extra votes and get pushed over the top. When we do nothing but scream at each other, our political parties follow suit. The reason for the now decade long grid-lock in Washington has everything to do with us, the voters. They merely represent us, and they seem to be doing their jobs correctly.

Ultimately, I want to know the following: can we put away the rancor, for just a little bit, and actually discuss substantive issues. Not sure if any of you noticed, but there’s a lot of stuff going on out there that deserves some attention. I may get shouted down for this, but I submit that finding a way to deal with our energy, economic, and foreign policy problems in a way that moves this country in the right direction might be more important than the culture wars we’ve been fighting for the last three decades.

Let people live their own lives however they see fit, so long as it doesn’t infringe on your rights.

I’m asking all of you, or any one of you, if you’d like to have a real conversation? I’ve tried this elsewhere, with mixed results. I hate the echo-chamber effect I find at dKos, here, and all the other partisan blog sites. I want to actually discuss issues, with people who accept that I might not have the same ideas as them; but that those ideas are worth hearing and discussing anyways.

As Voltaire said: “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”