J. Glen White and Cindy Kyser, The Democrat-Gazette
It has become increasingly apparent that our country is now so sharply divided between political parties and philosophies that we risk a level of polarization that threatens our democracy.
As recently as 2004, the Pew Center reported that Democrats and Republicans had considerable overlap in their political values. Now the chasm has widened and loud voices in both parties decry the other as a threat to our country and to our way of life. Our hostility for the other side grows as it is fueled by the hyperbole of a 24-hour news cycle and the increasing use of social media as a weapon.
The American experiment in ordered liberty has worked so far because we have found common ground even when we have strong disagreements. Our own Civil War is the most extreme example of what occurs when we are unable to put our differences aside and work together for the good of the country. However, there are lessons to be learned from our most difficult moments. Even when the U.S. came to blows over disparate views, we eventually had to practice give-and-take through nonviolent means, utilizing our founding fathers’ thoughtfully constructed checks and balances among the three branches of government.