The Hangover

 

The question at the heart of the movie from which I am taking the title of this commentary—“What the hell happened last night?”—is perhaps an apt description of the state of the Democratic Party today. It seems to me that a lot of energy is still being expended trying to figure out “what happened” last year to derail the dream of a liberal utopia where the party would never end. Watching Hillary Clinton now wander the country like Marley’s ghost, rattling her chains and bewailing her fate, one has to wonder when those who are still stunned by the election of Donald Trump—and the many sharp policy turns his ascendancy represents—are going to snap out of their stupor and fully engage with the many changes now afoot.

To say that the political and social Left in America is in an exceedingly surly mood is putting it mildly. Having convinced themselves in 2008 that the election of Barack Obama signaled the beginning of an inevitable electoral wave that would permanently put their policies in place, most were stunned when the tide receded and Democrats suddenly found themselves with the lowest percentage of state and federal elected officeholders since the 1920’s. As much as those who voted for Hillary Clinton like to comfort themselves with the fact that she received more popular votes, the basic problem still remains that Secretary Clinton was running for President of the United States—not Empress of New York or Queen of California. Watching the middle of the nation turn bright red on Election Night, leaving only isolated blue redoubts on the coasts and Chago, liberals were left to curse the grim math of the Electoral College and cling to the hope of still elusive proof of Russian collusion, neither of which has yet yielded much beyond cranky sound bites on CNN and MSNBC.

And so the hangover began.

To say that the Democratic Party has a long road to recovery on a national level is like saying someone who has been run over by a truck—and is now sporting a body cast—is a little under the weather right now. Locked out of power in D.C. and many states, Democrats have resorted to erecting the moral equivalent of a spite fence by continually castigating Republicans for their hateful ignorance while reassuring themselves that today is all nothing but a bad dream that will pass when they awaken to find Trump is finally indicted and removed from office.

This might not be the wisest course of action. If the Democratic Party is going to rebound sooner rather than never, it seems three specific actions would get them off to a good start:

Elevate the next generation of leadership—immediately.  It is time to finally admit that the folks who lead you down the road to ruination need to be replaced. The “Chuck and Nancy” show in the Senate and the House has clearly run its course, and the next tier of loyal Capitol Hill lieutenants who have also helped to propel today’s electoral meltdown are little better. The time for a shake-up is right now. The longer the Democrats wait and keep fresh talent on the shelf, the longer it will take to turn around their national fortunes.

Prioritize. The Democratic agenda that has developed over the past few decades boils down to the following: “Everybody should be given everything they want (unless it is a bottle of pop or a Nativity scene) by the government for free every time they ask for it—and no one need suffer from an opinion contrary to our own regarding the need for this.” As a result, our nation has ended up with a tottering and financially unsustainable big government monster that has turned the Democratic Party and its supporters into an easily caricatured herd of pettifogging bureaucrats who seem to have their noses in everybody’s business—all while gleefully belittling those whom they don’t like. It is little wonder that so many voters are ditching them. It’s time for a thorough discussion to distinguish what is important from what is tangential. After this is done, Democrats can pick a few signature issues and rebuild their tattered brand. However, if they plan to continue to be all things to all people (except for, of course, those people whose opinions and values they don’t like), the Democratic Party can expect a long stretch in the wilderness.

Talk less and listen more. One of my father’s favorite sayings was this: “You’ve got two ears and only one mouth—that should tell you something.” The unfortunate Democratic propensity for telling everyone (very loudly) why they are wrong has not won a lot of votes recently. It might be better to put down the mocha lattes and spend some time around voters who don’t live in New York, San Francisco, or a college town. Someone who disagrees with a core Democratic tenet is not necessarily a disagreeable individual; it is simply a fact that their beliefs are being informed by different life experiences, values, and judgments. Most people are fairly reasonable and are willing to have a sensible discussion on a variety of issues; if, however, your conversational style tends to leap into sneering condescension directed toward those whose beliefs differ from your own, you’re going to have a hard time convincing anyone. Moreover, sometimes you just have to adjust to the possibility that—incredible as it might seem—you are just plain wrong. That’s a bitter pill for some to swallow, but that might be just what is necessary to prompt a Democratic renewal.

Will any of this happen? I hope so. Thoughtfully planned and executed government policies play a major role in improving our daily lives and ensuring a bright future for our nation, and we need cooperative and respectful dialogue to create a better tomorrow for our citizens and our country. Most importantly, given the broad range of challenges ahead, we need voices from across the political spectrum involved. It is not healthy for our country to have the electoral math so skewed in one direction, and a reinvigorated and resurgent Democratic Party could play a significant role in promoting programs that would ensure a more broad-based prosperity.

However, to be honest, I don’t yet see this happening. The Democratic finger-pointing and purity tests seem still to have to run their calamitous course. However, I humbly offer this blueprint for a path forward. If my suggestions turn out to be wrong, so be it. I offer them for whomever might care to listen—from one concerned citizen to another.

 

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Doom and Gloom For The Democrats

Over the span of human history individuals and groups have found it advantageous to predict disaster. A sense of impending catastrophe motivates your followers, creates some temporary group cohesion, and calls into question the intelligence and motivations of those who are against you. If you can convince others that the world as we know it is about to end, the resulting crisis atmosphere also bestows enormous power to both manipulate and intimidate your opponents to reach your desired ends.

There are, however, two problems inherent in this approach. If the world doesn’t end in a reasonably short time, those who were willing to temporarily line up behind you are apt to quickly lose all faith because they think you a fool. Worse yet, if the disaster you predicted is not averted, those who put their trust in your skills and judgment will banish you from the tribe.

Now that we are finishing the seventh month of the Trump presidency, I believe we are seeing this dynamic play out—in a big way.

Watching the continuing vilification of Hillary Clinton since last November has been as transfixing as a train wreck. Her transformation from putative President-Elect to pariah has been both quick and merciless. Those who once touted her competence and celebrated her nomination are now often openly contemptuous of both her record and campaign. As comforting as the fervent belief in Russian chicanery is for many Democrats who are still shell-shocked by the election results and pining away for impeachment, the legacy of Hillary Clinton will always be that she somehow lost the election to a man who was widely considered unelectable—and embodies the repudiation of their party’s core beliefs. A fall from grace so swift and precipitous is almost without precedent in American politics.

In addition, President Trump’s dogged pursuit of his agendas on trade, immigration, healthcare, regulation, and the environment in the face of nearly universal opposition from the entrenched government bureaucracy and mainstream media has provided an instructive lesson regarding the limitations of crisis creation. Although this early phase of Trump’s administration has been an incredible uphill slog with a mix of both victories and defeats, the self-regarding Washington bubble is rapidly deflating. After all the supremely confident pre-election assurances that the changes Trump advocated would lead to instant and total catastrophe, the Democratic Party doomsayers seem stupefied. The facts that the sun still rises, jobs are being both created and reclaimed, and the lives of those outside of Washington-area zip codes are, by and large, either unaffected or improved since the Inauguration continues to erode their tattered credibility—and leaves them scrambling for a new message.

Consequently, Democrats face an existential question: If your leader has failed you and the predicted disaster has not occurred and validated your predictions, where do you go from here? This is clearly the problem that is roiling the Democratic Party at the moment—and causing a lot of doom and gloom among the Party’s faithful. Even worse, Bernie Sanders’ true believers and the stubborn remnants of the business-friendly Clinton wing are engaged in a self-destructive battle that does little to advance a coherent and compelling message—which is why no one seems to be able to understand where the Democratic Party now stands. Wistful efforts to anoint blank slate candidates such as Senator Kamala Harris are only further evidence of the ideological confusion that must be somehow crafted into a winning platform for 2018 and beyond. Winning Democratic leadership must come from the trenches—not a high-priced fundraiser in the Hamptons.

Waiting for a miracle—a pile of Russian gold in Donald Trump’s garage or a birth certificate proving that he was born in Moscow (wouldn’t that be ironic?)—is not going to save the Democratic Party. Nor is it a good idea for leadership to continually denounce all the remaining Democratic apostates who are still pro-choice, work somewhere other than a tech company, government agency, or non-profit organization, and (gasp!) sometimes meekly suggest that personal responsibility is more helpful than government handouts.

To fashion a winning coalition the Democratic Party needs new leaders who will rebuild trust that transcends party lines, offer solutions that are affordable, empower individuals rather than government or interest groups, and include rather than divide. Whether this is possible in the short term is questionable given the internecine divisions that now exist within the Party, but one can only hope that it will somehow be possible—someday soon.

Media Blunt Force Trauma

There are a great many problems facing our nation today, but I wonder how many of us notice that we rarely actually discuss them. We are instead constantly beat over the head about a single issue that is apparently so earth shattering that it is far more important than any other matter facing our nation or world today:

(whack over the head)
Russia

(Another Whack Over The Head)
Russia!

(YET ANOTHER WHACK OVER THE HEAD)
RUSSIA!

If there is not some codicil in the Geneva Convention that prohibits this, there should be. Being bombarded with a steady stream of overcooked accusations, breathless innuendo, and anonymous attacks—all of which have so far added up (using Hillary Clinton’s famous characterization) to a “nothing burger”—has been excruciating. Given that a Special Counsel has been appointed to study the question of the Trump campaign’s supposed collusion with Vladimir Putin to throw the Presidential election (although, just how, nobody has yet explained), one would hope that sane minds in our mass media would simply wait for the investigation to determine whether any laws might have been broken. However, apparently they need a steady stream of eyeballs in order to sell advertising and subscriptions. Therefore…

(whack over the head)
Russia

(Another Whack Over The Head)
Russia!

(YET ANOTHER WHACK OVER THE HEAD)
RUSSIA!

Of course, some of this fixation is driven by a wild hatred of President Trump that is now the most salient characterisic of the news coverage offered our major media outlets. To say that all pretense of balance and objectivity has flown out the window would be like saying that the ocean is wet—at once blindingly obvious and wholly insufficient. Certainly the idea of journalism that is free of the taint of partisanship has been more an ideal than a reality for the vast majority of our nation’s history, but rarely have we seen coverage of a political leader that is so nakedly and unremittingly one-sided. I know that politics is a rough and dirty enterprise, but the sharp elbows exhibited by the press over that past couple of years have been a real eye-opener for many, and go very far to explain the 74% of Americans who, in a Pew Research Center poll conducted last summer, asserted they believe news coverage tends to favor one side over another. Of course, even this dismal lack of trust is likely the fault of…

(whack over the head)
Russia

(Another Whack Over The Head)
Russia!

(YET ANOTHER WHACK OVER THE HEAD)
RUSSIA!

There are, of course, perfectly reasonable arguments to be made against many parts of the Trump agenda and its implementation. The efforts of his administration and allies in Congress to erase most of the Obama regulatory, legislative, and foreign policy legacy virtually overnight raise legitimate questions about the effects of these actions on our nation’s citizens and our standing in the world.

Unfortunately, the response of President Trump’s critics has boiled down to a single inflammatory message on most every issue: “This man is insane!” Whether we are talking about the balance between cost and patient outcomes in healthcare, implementation of environmental regulations, school choice as a mechanism for improving student achievement, oil exploration as a means to greater energy independence, temporary immigration restrictions and enforcement of existing laws, or Federal and Supreme Court nominations, reasoned debate has been buried under acid rhetoric and doomsaying. All these policy changes could be the subjects of thoughtful and cool-headed inquiry by the press and mass media—and, to be fair, there has been some excellent work done—but a recent study of broadcast news found that 55% of news stories regarding the Trump administration have focused upon…

(whack over the head)
Russia

(Another Whack Over The Head)
Russia!

(YET ANOTHER WHACK OVER THE HEAD)
RUSSIA!

Now we have the peculiar saga of Donald Trump Jr. meeting with a Russian representative in the hope he could obtain some dirt on Hillary Clinton prior to last November’s election. Just to put this into context, Mr. Trump was looking for scandalous or salacious information on his father’s opponent—he wasn’t selling nuclear secrets. As described to date, the whole episode seems more Curious George than John le Carré, and those who are anxious to spin this clumsy and amateurish effort into a sinister plot to bring down our democracy might want to consider switching from Red Bull to decaf. It is possible more information could come to light that would result in a more dire interpretation of events, but that will come only after careful inquiry, sworn testimony, and thoughtful evaluation based on reality rather than supposition.

However, regardless of the actual facts of the matter, the talking heads are ready and raring to go. So, without further ado…

(whack over the head)
Russia

(Another Whack Over The Head)
Russia!

(YET ANOTHER WHACK OVER THE HEAD)
RUSSIA!

Media Malfeasance

The intensity of the reactions to the 2016 election of Donald Trump—reactions that ran the gamut from disbelief to near-psychotic breakdown—and the cultural and political schisms that these laid bare have been explained and re-explained almost to the point of absurdity.

The short answer of many in the New York-California-DC media and cultural elite seems, no matter how kindly or judiciously stated, to boil down to this: A broad swathe of uneducated and bigoted rubes who have no idea what is good for them voted with fear rather than logic and have brought America to the brink of destruction by putting an idiot much like themselves into the White House. This belief certainly explains the exceedingly undemocratic attitudes of many who, having failed to either first win the election or later convince those in the Electoral College to throw their support to Hillary Clinton, are now cheerleading a stampede toward Presidential impeachment based on anonymously-sourced or self-serving statements from those now cast from the corridors of power by the voters.

There is, of course, a chance that President Trump and his associates engaged in some sort of unbelievable wrongdoing with the Russians to help him win the election that sounds like something right out of a spy novel. However, to date, there is absolutely no evidence to support such contentions, although to some in “The Resistance” that is simply further evidence that it all must be true—this is, after all, a “secret conspiracy” to subvert America, right? Unfortunately, we yet to have someone speak on the record and under oath. Nonetheless, our vaunted news media has pretty much decided snark and innuendo equals actual information, which thrills the “Not my President” crowd but leaves everyone else wondering why rumor-mongering is being celebrated as journalistic bravery.

There is, however, something well worth examining here: the incredible contempt with which a duly-elected President—and the results of that election—are being treated. Given that Trump won the Electoral College but not the popular vote, I can understand some of the bitterness of the Democrats. Moreover, the absolute and unshakable confidence of pollsters and the media in a Clinton victory leading up to Election Day left a great many with a bad case of whiplash—and provided fertile ground for conspiracy theorists who somehow needed to explain an outcome that was so wholly contrary to their expectations. Sudden and shocking events always prompt a search for villains, and the Russians have been our go-to bad guys for nearly a century—and a handy excuse for virtually any misfortune.

However, I am starting to wonder whether we are seeing something entirely different here: a snobbish and scary attack on a President and his supporters by media and political elites who find Trump and those who voted for him simply unacceptable.

The British have a lovely expression that describes this haughty attitude perfectly: An individual is simply “N.Q.O.C.” (Not Quite Our Class). Although we love to believe that America is a perfectly egalitarian nation, the echoes of this kind of elite dismissiveness could be heard back in 2008 when Barack Obama, running for his first term, derided “bitter Americans” who “cling to guns or religion”. Hillary Clinton’s later comments about Trump supporters—as “a basket of Deplorables”—sprang from the same incredulity regarding the existence of Americans who drive pick-up trucks, serve in the military, and enjoy a Big Mac and fries at lunch.

The Democrats I grew up with were back-slapping, beer-drinking, lunch bucket guys who were happy to throw an extra steak on the grill if you showed up unexpectedly at their Saturday barbecue. Today the Democrats seem to live exclusively in college towns or expensive urban zip codes with high fences or security cameras, and now it’s all Pinot Grigio, artisanal cheeses, locally-sourced vegetable kebabs, and chit-chat about their children’s summer “enrichment” activities—screw riding bikes or building a tree house.

Now think of the average writer or editor for The New York Times or Washington Post—the nexus of the “Never Trump” universe—and try to imagine them working at a Walmart, attending a Bible study group, or spending a summer digging a new septic tank. This is, of course, an exaggeration meant to make a point, but although they might write wonderfully sympathetic articles describing the economic and personal struggles of the average American, these writers and editors are living in a world far removed from the everyday concerns of those whom they derogatorily describe as “Joe Six Pack” voters—and their career trajectories will be much enhanced if they can help to put their pals back in power so that they can once again hobnob with people just like themselves.

Why do I say this?

When the history of the Trump presidency is written, I wonder whether a single decision will be recognized as the true inflection point: President Trump’s decision to not attend this year’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner—and to forbid his staff from doing so as well. This was, in the rarified world of political journalists, pretty much like being a sixteen year old girl ditched by your Prom date. Although the coverage of Trump and his policies was already resoundingly negative, it seems to me that an angry and derisive tone much like that of an enraged ex-spouse infected a great deal of the media coverage that followed. What was political suddenly became very, very personal—and any pretense of journalistic objectivity seemed to fly right out the window. The mission now seems set in stone: Drive Trump and his bitter and deplorable voters from power so that order can be restored to the universe.

So here we are now.

It seems certain that every happenstance of White House personnel and policies during the remainder of the Trump presidency will now be spun into dark plots and criminal schemes by the mainstream media. Given that prosecutors exist to prosecute, we can likewise be reasonably assured that someone will eventually be charged with something, which will be fair and appropriate if sworn evidence is provided that proves wrongdoing.

However, this seems to me tangential to what is the actual crux of the matter: We are seeing something terrifyingly akin to a media coup in progress right now, and we should be very concerned about the glee with which many now want to reverse the results of a free and fair election. The decisions of a democracy are made at the ballot box—not in the newsroom—and voters will have ample opportunity to reward or punish President Trump in the 2018 midterm elections and beyond.

Unless clear evidence of criminality and collusion based on admissible evidence is found, the media should back off on the overheated and condescending coverage, stick to supportable facts, and keep in mind that elections—not sneering insinuations—are the ultimate arbiters of how our nation conducts its affairs. Failing this, I fear we are in for a rough ride that will do little other than disenfranchise many of our nation’s voters—all because a relative handful of journalists believe those voters are bigots and idiots whose voices should be silenced.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.   (Aretha Franklin said it all in one word)

Fixing America’s “Perspective” Problems

Our political landscape sometimes seems like one big, bad, broken relationship crashing upon the rocks—and those on both ends of the political spectrum are instantly (and sadly) prepared to ascribe the most noxious intentions to the actions of those who hold an opinion contrary to their own. This is unfortunate—but certainly understandable. The political ground shifted beneath the feet of many last November, and the resulting feelings of fear and insecurity have made people lash out. Unfortunately, however human these kinds of reactions might be, they do little to facilitate the national consensus necessary to fix the many pressing problems facing our nation.

These anxious and emotionally-driven responses from those in the political arena who were stunned by the November election results have become so twisted and out of proportion that it has become impossible to understand what either side actually supports or rejects—consistency is no longer a part of the of the equation. For example, regarding the ongoing conflict in Syria, those on the left have moved from “Trump is in Putin’s pocket” to “Trump is waging war on Putin” since the  Presidential campaign last fall. Even worse, when the need to reform our broken healthcare system is discussed, those on the right have moved from “Repeal and Replace” to “Never Mind” just since the Inauguration in January! The revolving door of opinion certainly makes one’s head spin, but it is the extraordinary degree of distrust exhibited by all regarding almost every issue that is startling—and profoundly worrisome.

We must move beyond our paranoid preconceptions of one another’s motives because—although this might make for wonderfully “tweet-able” bits of schoolyard-style maliciousness—it contributes little to the real world of discussion, negotiation, and compromise. Sadly, no matter what our political opponents might say or write these days—and how thoughtfully they try to explain it to a listener or reader—they are often perceived to be engaging in subterfuge designed to crush our nation and its people in a shortsighted attempt to impose a personal agenda on an unwilling and/or vulnerable public. I could keep adding more adjectives and adverbs, but this is pretty much the state of our political discourse these days.

The problem we now face as a result is one born of the inevitable collision between overheated rhetoric and quotidian reality: Despite the vehemence with which we now commonly express our opinions and beliefs, we still need to find a way to occupy a common land mass and live under a common set of laws and norms. Short of outright secession—which some are foolish enough to actually advocate—we must figure out some way to make our many interconnecting relationships work for the benefit of America as a whole. Even if we can’t agree on every issue, perhaps we can agree on a few basic principles that might keep us from flinging the household crockery at one another day after day and help us to regain some much-needed perspective that will cool down our flaming rhetoric.

The world is not fair, but we can still strive to make it as fair as possible—within reason.

No matter what regulations, systems, and laws we put in place, we cannot create a nation where all opportunities are equalized, all disparities are eliminated, and all conflicts are erased. As much as this might grate on some, we must accept this in order to avoid unnecessarily restricting the basic freedoms we are fortunate to enjoy as Americans. The desire of many to change this harsh fact of human existence springs from a well-meaning place, but the resulting actions generally do nothing but suck us all into an intrusive and expensive bureaucratic vortex of blather and bother that simply produces its own set winners and losers when government officials pass out the goodies. Short of a genetically engineered “utopia” where we all come off an assembly line with the depressing sameness of Styrofoam blocks, our lives, those of our children, and the lives of the billions upon billions of people around the globe who are total strangers to us are going to be battles of brains, brawn, and beauty that will produce winners, losers, and every variation in between.

Moreover, although it might not seem so when you read the hourly attacks on one another that reverberate through our media outlets and the blogosphere, we actually do live in a blessedly calm nation—although it is still sitting astride a messy, noisy, and scary planet where the list of factors we cannot control is far longer than the meager list of those we can. Some rules and boundaries are obviously needed to manage any nation; however, it could certainly be argued that the most important lesson to be learned from the past half-century of politics is that micromanaging everyone’s lives often produces nothing more than a new set of problems. The proper role of government in creating a world that is more fair for all is certainly a matter for discussion, but we must always remember that perspectives different from our own should be granted equal space and consideration—and nothing will be accomplished by engaging in continual in-fighting and name-calling.

We need to return to appropriate levels of personal privacy in order to keep politics from intruding into—and overwhelming—our daily lives.

We live in a “Too Much Information” society that has sadly erased the boundary between what is acceptable to share and that which should be kept to ourselves. The problems caused by documenting and sharing every aspect of our lives might not seem obvious to those who are voyeurs and exhibitionists, but there is a clear line between someone who wishes to share their personal story out of a desire to inspire or instruct versus those many individuals who are seeking personal validation—or perhaps even retribution—via social media.

If you count on the crowd for your sense of self-worth, you can count on a signal truth: Somebody will disapprove of you. Unfortunately, social media now allows that disapproval to be broadcast to a worldwide audience who will further amplify—and likely garble—that initial disapproval with the aid of their own doubts, anger, and frustration. The result of this is a spiral of rage, defensiveness—and yet more insecurity—that improves nothing and no one. If our political discussions are reduced to the 21st century technological equivalent of spray painting 140 character slogans on a wall and making derogatory comments about those who disagree with our positions or values, we are going to keep shouting right past one another and never build the bridges between one another that are necessary to manage our nation and provide for our people.

Some believe that hashtag activism and virtue-signaling via social media creates a stronger nation. However, although a society where we all walk around naked with billboards on our heads broadcasting our thoughts would, of course, be utterly transparent, it would also destroy the space that should be reserved for dreams, hopes, and desires that are ours alone—which seems to be exactly what has happened. I believe much of the pervasive anxiety of our modern age can be attributed to the societal pressures that now drive us to overshare our lives to a point of sheer absurdity. The well-documented link between the time we spend pecking away on Facebook pages and diagnoses of depression should tell us all something about the innate human need for boundaries and personal space that we seem to have forgotten as we have coasted into the 21st century digital age, and our politics cannot easily heal under such circumstances.

The personal may, as some feminists have claimed, be political, but we still need to maintain our personal lives and sense of what should be kept private in the process. We are not worthwhile individuals just because every aspect of our lives is shared with everyone, and we damage ourselves and others if we lose all touch with our inner existence. Reasoned perspective that is born of quiet and personal contemplation—not mob action resulting from a Tweetstorm—is exactly what is needed to improve our national dialogue right now.

Keep the courage of your convictions without closing your mind to learning from the lives and experiences of others.

I am sometimes complimented by others regarding my calm and patience, which I believe is a helpful attribute to possess no matter what your life’s endeavors might be. I believe this peace springs from two practices I strive to always keep at their forefront of my daily activities: Live according to a set of principles while also respecting the principles of others. If we are smart, we are humble enough to realize there is a great deal about the world and the lives of others that we neither know nor understand. Rather than fear and reject contrary viewpoints or ideas, we maintain balance and emotional health by listening—and hopefully learning.

We can change or modify our own values as we see fit based on what we learn from the lives and experiences of those outside our circle of friends or family, but more importantly we develop the ability to empathize with those with whom we disagree rather than simply shower them with our smug scorn. That, by itself, might be the first essential step toward healing the angry divisions in our nation. It may be distressing to listen to others explain why they believe we are wrong, but it is certainly a valuable part of our political educations and allows us to broaden our perspectives regarding the people and world around us.

I am sorry, America. National divorce or separation are not options even remotely available—and isolating yourself from your neighbors or “un-friending” those with whom you disagree will do nothing but produce yet more grief for us all. Therefore, let’s all resolve to work together while respecting the reasons of others and rediscovering our perhaps frayed sense of personal privacy. You may consider it “couples therapy” if you wish—but please consider it, nonetheless.