No Middle Ground

I spend a few minutes each morning looking at Facebook posts from a wide variety of friends and acquaintances, along with their political diatribes, which some may even call “convictions.” I’m reaching a point at which I’m skipping over any posts that even hint at a righteous (and too often snide) sermon on how stupid or evil the “other side” is. The problem is that there seem to be only two sides nowadays when it comes to politics, two extreme viewpoints.

Had any foreign power actually plotted to pit Democrats and Republicans against each other (which seems more and more to be a reality), the result could never have been more successfully vile than it is right now. That foreign power would be sitting back, gleefully watching us go for the throats of what we have been trained (at least subliminally) to see as the enemy. Commentaries that one sees on the extreme political edges of Fox News and MSNBC masterfully stoke the flames of righteous indignation, that yield what may well be akin to the rush of a highly addictive drug. Blame has become almost our national sport, filled with artful malice. No accusation can be too hideous or vile, as long as it’s cloaked in an American flag, biblical verse, or photo of some poor vagrant struggling to find his next meal. Guilt is of prime importance. Fact checking is too dangerous in risking ratings that fire up our anger or sympathy and, thus, our complete attention, loyalty, and patronage. Maintaining our righteous rage as an emotional high is the goal, not what’s necessarily right for the country.

There is no middle ground anymore, where one might find reason. This has brought me to the point at which I trust almost no one in Washington any further than I can throw a Volkswagon. Personal agendas, fear of losing wealthy donor support and power can purchase brilliant propaganda that seems to be providing an entertaining and riveting “duke it out” display daily for the rest of the world. Also there is our human weakness of believing pretty much anything that we want or need to believe. Hateful sarcasm seems to have become our political face on the world stage.

I love America too much to renounce my citizenship, but the vulgarity, lies, and vanity from both political parties have become too black and white. The nuance that comes from stepping back to view all the shading of a wider view has been sacrificed for the self-congratulatory smugness that I don’t remember ever seeing before, even during the Nixon era. We have come to love that adrenalin rush of righteous indignation, valid or not. That means we’ve sacrificed something else…the responsibility of honesty (even when it hurts our own causes), fairness in an attitude of give-and-take, and giving up the megalomaniacal rush of eviscerating the opposition as entertainment for political points.

I wonder, with much trepidation, what the world and history itself will see when they look back at our current political landscape. The arrogance and cutthroat maneuvers on both sides make me wonder daily who we really are as a nation and what we’re about. The words to our national patriotic songs seem a bit off key right now to the point that our ideals are either blurred to the point of absurdity or given an almost religious reverence not borne out by our actual behaviors.  JB


About John

About John John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BS and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado, where he resided for ten years before moving to Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth book is, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014. John’s most recent book is a novel titled Resisting Gravity, A Ghost Story, published the summer of 2018 View all posts by John →
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