We're divided, because they tell us to be so

I bite my tongue a lot, particularly during debates between people over the national political scene. It’s not that I’m apathetic toward politics, or afraid to take a stand on something I strongly believe in, as much as it’s a case of me not having a dog in the fight.

Coastal Point

I’m an Independent, which stamps me as either noncommittal or indifferent toward what is going on in the country. For the record, I am an avid follower of the political scene, local and national. I enjoy good debate over real issues, and have found myself registered as both a Democrat and a Republican at different parts of my life. But to be honest, I’m tired of the nonsense.

The two dominant parties in this great nation have turned to putting all their efforts to squashing the other guy, and quieting their voices in the process. It’s a metaphorical tug-of-war that consists of two powerful and well-funded parties trying to pull each other into the puddle of mud between them, rather than trying to figure out which way to pull to raise the nation.

Ridiculous metaphor, huh? Well, I accidentally deleted my first attempt that this column and started all over, which leads to really pathetic attempts at ...

But I digress.

Actually, when I started writing this piece the first time it was not my intent to trash the two-party system in this country, though I confess to enjoying doing so every opportunity I get. No, I was spurred originally by a video I saw making the rounds on the Internet the other night.

It was a collection of clips from 1998, a time when our president was George W. Bush and gas prices were pushing toward $5 a gallon. The video showed prominent right-wing commentators defending insinuations from their left-wing foes that Bush should be doing something to stop the escalating gas costs. The conservatives were arguing that gas prices were established by the market itself, and the president had nothing to do with it.

Of course, this video appeared on the heels of the top three GOP presidential candidates — Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich — all saying recently that the current president has to take control of our current rising gas prices, and that it’s his responsibility as president to do just that.

Am I the only one who wants to close his eyes, cover his ears and scream to the heavens in frustration when I see this stuff?

To be fair, it’s not necessarily the ones who sit in high positions in the political parties who cause this nonsensical garbage. No, quite a bit of it springs from the mouths of the “media.”

I quoted off that word because, in my opinion, the term has changed its meaning over the years. There once was a time when the media consisted of journalists trying to present fair and balanced stories to their readers, listeners and viewers so the people themselves could make informed decisions. However, the lines have been blurred for many people, as they often get their “news” from Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly.

News now comes wrapped with opinions, distorted facts and selected sound bites. Don’t know which way to lean on an issue? No worries. You’ll be told how to think by the time you’re done seeing the “story.” And, if you disagree with the premise they’re pushing down your throats, they will call you names and insult everything you stand for in the process.

Something tells me all that has contributed heavily to the animosity we see between everyday people as they argue the day’s politics.

We’ve seen this happen with sports over the years, as well. Radio talk shows and blogs have given access to many more people to voice their opinions on athletes and their teams, which is a good thing. But it also gives license to idiotic character assassinations and uninformed people who portray themselves as “experts.”

I will continue to follow national politics because it holds my interest, even if it often makes me nauseous.