A couple of months before the election, we sat down with a group happy to be together as we hadn't seen each other for a while. We dove into pasta and crunchy French bread, green salad and a couple of good bottles of wine. We laughed about the antics of our grandchildren, our own antics as seniors, and then, without intending to, we veered into politics.
We're all college educated, we've known each other for years. It's not like we don't know where each other stands with regards to politics, yet we stepped into it.The conversation quickly devolved into a shouting match, veins standing out in necks and one person stomping out of the room in frustration. The pleasant get together quickly turned into a sour disaster.
What happened? Politics has forever been a topic at our table. People would civilly make their points, state their feelings, and then turn the conversation over to the next. Everyone had a chance to speak. Even when George Bush, a constant punching bag by the Left, was President, we were able to converse without drawing blood. We always found commonality somewhere. But now, no.
The country is not only halved by Reds and Blues, but it is divided by deeply embedded philosophies that are rigid and implacable. Even very young kids chant slogans. I agree youngsters should be exposed to the democratic process, but they should also learn to listen to other people's views.
Now that the election is over, a wedge remains. Barack Obama spends more time talking about class warfare than pulling the country together. He bombards us with how the Republicans don't get behind the payroll tax cuts or unemployment benefits. He continually reminds us how uncaring the Right is, how they are not sensitive to the needs of the underclass, to those with special needs, to children, and to the elderly. Look how often he uses the word "we," meaning not the entire United States, but in reality his base. And now with the Congress struggling to scale the "fiscal cliff," the president is maneuvering the conversation to make the Right the bad guys, leaving little room for compromise.
I can't prove this, but I suggest the division serves the president and his goals. Keeping the huge group of people who pay little to no taxes angry that they don't get "their fair share," bolsters the voting bloc that keeps him in office. Harsh words, but true.
Barack Obama, hand in hand with the press, continues to divide the country into two camps, and if we're not careful, especially with the shifting demographics, this destructive laceration may be a wound that will never heal.
As of this writing, we haven't had the opportunity to share a meal with our friends from the other side of the aisle. I'm not sure we've not made plans because we're busy, or if we're avoiding the occasion. I long for a good, old-fashioned political discussion. One in which I learn something from my friend on the Left, as does my friend learn something from me. I yearn for a pasta dinner with Red friends and Blue friends, but I'm not holding my breath. It feels as though those days may be over.
Elizabeth Appell is a fiction writer and filmmaker, as well as a frustrated conservative.