Politics often reinforces what people already believe, that’s why we have political parties. It’s never been about tribalism or purity. Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller existed in the same party in the 1960’s, but that wouldn’t be the case anymore.
Both parties have been decimated by radical extremists. The Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic party has pulled it noticeably left (just look at the number of Senate Democrats supporting Sanders’ universal health care bill). It’s obviously happened to the right as Ted Cruz and Steve Bannon has pulled the Republicans far away from the traditional GOP conservatives like John Kasich, the Bushes, or Marco Rubio.
The Sanders/Warren wing, though, has accomplished its task of pulling nearly the whole party left. Sure, you find some progressive grumbles about moderate members like Joe Donnelly from Indiana, but you usually see the Democrats in line on major issues.
Republicans have been deeply divided. I consider myself a pragmatic conservative, who sees a role for government functions but wants low taxes in the process. That, though, has apparently become persona non-grata to many conservatives in today’s GOP. I’ve even had conservative friends accuse me of being a “left-wing liberal.”
Notice, I’ve gone four paragraphs about political discourse and not used the word “Trump.” Crap. I just hit Pee Wee Herman’s Secret Word. The reason this discussion doesn’t apply to Trump supporters is that they don’t fit into any traditional party. You see their policy positions veer to the left or right depending on where the President comes down on an issue. It’s a politics of personality.
What will make me less crazy? Maybe less gerrymandering from both sides. Maybe not hating the guy who lives next door because he disagrees with you. Maybe it’s realizing that someone who agrees with you 80% of the time is your friend, not your enemy. Whatever it is, let’s just be better to each other.
Patrick Pfingsten is an award-winning journalist, political consultant, and PR expert. You can find him on Twitter @pfingsten1 or email him at email@example.com.