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Current political climate breeds division

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posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 03:04 PM
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I had posted a short bit in another topic briefly touching on the role civility plays in healthy political discourse. For decades, the political norm in America has included a degree of divisiveness and other dirty tricks during the election cycle. This past cycle was very different, since the rhetoric tends to tone down after the election and the country begins focusing on finding common ground on certain issues in order to effectively govern.

I have been around ATS for a while, and remember the days when respecting other points of view was one of the hallmark features that made the community such a great place to be. I still feel that way about ATS, and really enjoy the virtually unlimited spectrum of conversation that occurs here. Unfortunately, I have found myself engaging in the same type of personal jabs and even insults that this post is really talking about. I feel the current state of discourse in America has reached a boiling point, where individuals cannot discuss opposing viewpoints without bringing personal attacks and other irrelevant information into a debate.

Politics are a very touch topic, especially nowadays, and I apologize to any individual I may have insulted or attacked. Too often, I find myself engaging in defensive behavior anticipating these types of responses. I have pretty thick skin, so the insults themselves aren't the problem. I feel it just the general level of rudeness and callousness that takes over most discussion, and prevents any real issues from being addressed.

I won't make this thread into a novel, but it feels as though this current climate has been engineered to prevent meaningful and informed discussion of important policies and world events. Enough conjecture, though. I hope those I insulted can accept my apology, and sincere desire to learn from others and engage alternative points of view.

A beer and we'll call it even?




posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 03:20 PM
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a reply to: JBurns



A beer and we'll call it even?


A beer? Really?! How dare you assume my drink of choice! I'm outraged!



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 03:24 PM
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a reply to: JBurns

Not sure where you stand on the issues, but sure.

I love beer!




You're right though. But the divisiveness isn't new.

It's been simmering for quite some time.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 03:49 PM
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Following that the downward trend tailspins each election, just wait until next election following this course... and then the one after that... and that... and that...

Maybe we'll all be extinct by then, of if not we'll be damned close and we'll have the Society of Outage to thank for that.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 04:24 PM
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Thanks everyone, we can substitute the beer for your drink of choice


You all are right though, it has been simmering for a good while. I don't fear the future, but I am concerned for it



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 04:38 PM
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a reply to: JBurns

Off topic I know, but I found a scotch called, "Monkey Shoulder".

We should open up a bottle just because of the name!



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 04:58 PM
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a reply to: JBurns

We'll a lot of members here revert to immature name calling and derogatory comments of the opposite party just because they don't like a particular comment. It doesn't matter if the comment is true, you can always tell it hits a soft spot when it doesn't correspond to someone's political party platform. Instead of honestly commenting on the issue and pointing out the rights and wrongs of both parties, extreme party loyalty has made some members blind to their own political party lies. They also ignore the self-centered devotion these political parties have for lobbyists and their donors.

I find it ridiculous to think either party has concern for the people they represent - republican or democrat. So why become a spokesperson for them and defend them? They certainly don't defend us or work together for the betterment of ALL Americans.

Unless Americans stand united and demand...

-term limits
-the elimination of lobbying
-removing Super PAC's
-removing all money donations out of politics
-capping campaign expenses and leveling the playing field for all candidates
-removing the party system that only causes grid-lock and division
-reducing the pay salary and benefits for representatives so they're more in-line with the majority of Americans
-Last but not least, creating a system where voters decide on major legislation that will critically impact their lives instead of relying on political bargaining and bullying by party leaders.

The voice of the people will continue to be silenced.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 05:10 PM
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a reply to: DBCowboy

DB it has been way too long since I've had scotch of any variety, sounds excellent!

As a side note, how on Earth did you find that?



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 05:13 PM
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a reply to: JBurns

I was in a strange bar at the San Francisco Airport.

The discovery was epic.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 05:18 PM
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a reply to: WeRpeons

peons, I love the suggestions presented in your reply. I wholeheartedly agree that partisan politics (as the founders warned) is just another means of dividing us. I would single out specific points made in the latter part of your reply, but I believe each and every one of them would be of major service to the nation.

The role money and influence plays in our governing system is despicable, and shouldn't be tolerated by voters. Sadly, there are too many partisan issues clouding the field to have mainstream awareness of such ideals. Many partisan issues can be solved by stating your opinion, respecting someone else's opinion and concertedly looking at whether or not the issue should be resolved by legislation or government.

There are so many different issues that could be resolved by keeping them out of the government's purview and allowing the individual to determine what solution works best for them. I think people should realize that it is OK to disapprove of a certain practice or action without feeling the need to legislate it away.


Great ideas




posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 06:17 PM
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Civility matters.

I've been saying it for years.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 06:51 PM
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a reply to: JBurns

I agree with you. Everything is about trying to fire people up, get them engaged, or at least just get them spouting their opinion in order to add to "conversations". And more importantly, to tune into media.

I don't think it's a conincidence that increased activity in politics tends to result in less happiness among the population.

ATS is way too right wing for me, so while I do read and post, I identify with very few people. On a similar token though, it's not just the right wingers that do this. I read /r/politics too and they have people who say all Republicans or Conservatives are bad guys, and that's just not true either.

With so much media so accessible, I think we're all just finding our own echo chambers and spouting nonsense into them among people who agree with us. It reinforces a confirmation bias that we're right, and in turn radicializes the population because we're automatically dismissive of all conflicting viewpoints.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 06:59 PM
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originally posted by: JBurns
Thanks everyone, we can substitute the beer for your drink of choice


You all are right though, it has been simmering for a good while. I don't fear the future, but I am concerned for it


It's getting worse as social media (the new, news media) has expanded.

I have quite a few thoughts on this matter, because I happen to see it as a national security or perhaps a national stability issue.

One thing that I think we need to do, is attach real names and identities to social media. So that if people support a radical group, they'll face a social backlash unless that group has become mainstream. From a constitutional standpoint it's merely making the concept of free association a public rather than private matter. I think that such a move could bring some moderation back into society.

How to implement it securely is the real issue. As things currently stand, such a measure would only serve to make identity theft even more damaging.

Regardless of the method of solution, I think we've only got this Presidential term and the next one to go before we see an actual attempt at government overthrow if nothing is done. Personally, I don't want another civil war.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 07:29 PM
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originally posted by: WeRpeons
Unless Americans stand united and demand...

-term limits
-the elimination of lobbying
-removing Super PAC's
-removing all money donations out of politics
-capping campaign expenses and leveling the playing field for all candidates
-removing the party system that only causes grid-lock and division
-reducing the pay salary and benefits for representatives so they're more in-line with the majority of Americans
-Last but not least, creating a system where voters decide on major legislation that will critically impact their lives instead of relying on political bargaining and bullying by party leaders.


I don't know about that. I actually disagree with you on several points. I see no reason why I should stand united with you on these demands. I'll go through them one at a time:

Term Limits - I don't support term limits on Congress. Term limits do nothing to spread out power, as it's really the primary that matters in most districts, so all we'll do is cycle through candidates. If a politician needs to keep their voters happy in order to keep a fairly nice job, they have an incentive to deliver for their constituitents. When term limits happen, there's no incentive to deliver for those people... instead the incentive from day 1 becomes to deliver for corporations in order to ensure themselves a good job after leaving office. While it's true that retiring politicans have more freedom in going against their party, it's also true that if politics isn't a career, then there's no incentive to deliever for the people. It's important for a career in government to be viable.

Lobbying - I'll touch on this more later on, but lobbying is how people can influence their politicans with a collective voice. Not all lobbying is bad. For example, when Jon Stewart got the bill for 9/11 first responders through Congress it was due to lobbyists. Ordinary people cannot hang around Washington all day, and the people who are supposed to represent us and hang around DC all day cannot due so either because the country is simply too large.

Super PAC's - I do agree on this point.

Removing money from politics - Unfortunately, it's not possible because money gets lobbyists, and they're an essential part of the system.

Capping expenses - I'm certainly no fan of 10 billion dollar campaigns but I'm sympathetic to fund raising too. Perhaps the solution isn't to cap the dollars spent, but to negate the need for so much money in the first place by shortening the campaign season. Good luck legislating that though.

Party system - It's here to stay. Even if you were to break it up, we would still have caucuses which are mini parties already, and if you broke that up alliances would still form. Having official parties where things can be kept above the table and somewhat regulated is the best solution.

Reducing pay - Completely disagree. Senators and Representatives aren't even paid all that well for the hours they spend already. If anything we should pay them more so they're harder to bribe, and so that we can increase competition for the positions by attracting more talent. The idea that they need to be poorly paid public servants seems ridiculous to me given the power they have.

Creating a system where voters decide on major legislation that will critically impact their lives instead of relying on political bargaining and bullying by party leaders - So this is a very big one. The problem in the US is one of scale. According to the Constitution, we're supposed to have 1 representative per 30,000 people. If we were to implement that in the US right now the House of Representatives would have nearly 11,000 members compared to the 435 we already have. Looking at other governments around the world, 450 people is about the maximum number that can be managed.

If it were merely a matter of space, we could create a digital congress where they meet remotely. But that's not possible, because it's also a matter of organization. Managing 11,000 people with one leader is impossible. So we would have to create a situation where those 11,000 have limited power, and instead elect their own representatives down to 400-500 people that actually manage things. So then we've introduced another level of abstraction between the people and the power, and thereby weakened the concept of voting.

Turning power over to the states doesn't fix this, because then we weaken the federal government to where it can't function, and we create 50 countries where there used to be 1.

We could try to fix the system by adding more representatives but instead having them represent local/regional needs rather than people (for example, say X people who represent the interest of south eastern US infrastructure), but then we blur the power between states and remove the importance of voting districts.

I don't know what the answer here is, but it's the underlying issue behind all of the problems in the country with Congress. The design of our government simply doesn't scale to 330 million people.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 07:36 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan

Aazadan, thanks for the contribution! I also believe the prevalence of ideological echo chambers is a huge part of the problem we are facing. Before 2016, I was a member of the Democratic party and a self-described libertarian/classical liberal. I still hold that description as my own, but no longer feel allegiance to any party. I think partisan politics and gradual erosion of civility is leading to a dark reality we haven't visited in a very long time.



I also like the idea of attaching identity, although my concern parallels yours in regard to secure implementation and positive verification (even after initial registration).

If you were to review my older posts, I was a Bernie supporter before jumping on the Trump train. I didn't support Bernie because I agreed with his ideology 100%, but he was an insurgent candidate like Trump and gave me hope that we could have a President that wasn't bought and paid for by special interests and the 1%. I am a Trump supporter (and I voted for him) because I believe he stands behind the Constitution and the people of our nation. That of course isn't to say I like 100% of his ideas or statements, but I do feel he will be a net positive for our future. Just my opinion though, I'm sure many others feel differently.

As far as the civil war fears are concerned, I'd by lying if I said the possibility didn't cross my mind. In many ways, this climate eerily parallels the build-up to the first civil war. You had large portions of the population divided on major issues and their vision of our nation's future. This is amplified today because of the vast means of communication, which adds a layer of volatility to the current situation. When civility is lost (as loam's signature even says), the idea of those disagreements leading to para-military conflict doesn't seem so ridiculous or unthinkable anymore. I expect that tensions will continue to be stoked by those who seek to undermine what we've collectively built, and it worries me for our future.

I hope our nation can come together, and unite under the things that make us all Americans. I can't promise to agree with everything other people say, but I will respect their personal choices and opinions and ask only for the same in return.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 07:48 PM
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No , people breed division
Period.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 09:21 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan

You must be a politician!

They should get paid more money??? Are you kidding me? You do know a majority of them are multi-millionaires! A simple Google will easily put that in black and white. They also have the best healthcare benefits and pensions than the majority of Americans! Teachers don't even make half of what they make, and without them, none of us would be able to communicate like we're doing right now! I wonder how the U.S. would be if we didn't have an educated work force! How can you expect our representatives to relate to the average American when their salaries and benefits are out-of-line with the majority of Americans?

As far as the number of hours they put in, lol...a majority of the time they don't even take the time to read the legislation they're voting on! Many of them don't even bother to show up and vote! They make other representatives click the voting switch for them! They weasel out of Town Hall meetings when they know they're going to face an angry and disgruntled crowd. (They sure must be exhausted from all the long hours they put in, huh?) Americans expect them to work across party lines, and do the job we elected them to do - pass legislation!

So you think career politicians actually help pass legislation for the people? Well according to the record, they fail miserably. Political infighting has created a " can't do anything congress." Many of them are over their retirement age. If they're working exhausting long hours, it sure doesn't make sense that most of them work well into their late 60's, 70's and even into their 80's! It sure doesn't sound like those long hard hours are making them want to retire! Most people who have difficult and long hour jobs want to retire as soon as they can! Career politicians allow time for corporations and lobbyists to create a "you rub my back, I'll rub yours" type of relationship. The longer the time politicians are in office, the more influence and power they gain over newly elected representatives. If politicians were given a set amount of time to push their ideas in congress, they would work much harder in the few years they had to accomplish it! They wouldn't have the power and influence to stymie the fresh ideas of newly elected representatives. Old ideas and old ways never moved businesses forward. The same thing goes along with government.

As far as capping political campaigns, all television and print advertising, hotel accommodations, and flyers should be provided free from private businesses in those areas. In return, our government should allow the total cost of these expenses to be written off against the companies yearly taxes. The internet should also provide a national election site where each candidate is listed and there's an easy to understand spread sheet explaining where these candidates stand on the issues. Yes, all candidates should have the same equal campaign amount to run their campaigns. Too many political donors for an incumbent can easily create an unfair disadvantage for new unknown candidates.

Allowing "the people" to vote on legislation that directly affects their lives gives power back to the people! It's clearly been taken away by the Federal Government. Allowing a minority of representatives to manipulate legislation for their own political agendas and to satisfy corporate interests is certainly not working for the interests of the American people. As you stated, the original constitution expected 1 representative for 30,000 people. This is a clear example that some parts of our constitution have become out dated. Our founding fathers could never have imagined our country's current population and the advancement in technology we have today.

As far as the party system goes...one only has to read the political posts here on ATS. Divisiveness along party-lines is clearly present. It's a reflection of the current state this country is in. We don't need representatives that feel pressure to follow a party platform. There are good and bad aspects in both political parties. We do a disservice to ourselves when we put party loyalty above common sense, honesty and truth. "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" is more pertinent today than it ever was.

You have a right to your opinion. The reason why Trump was elected was because many Americans feel our government no longer listens to the need of the American people. Unfortunately, I have to agree and I'm an independent voter.






edit on 8-10-2017 by WeRpeons because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 09:30 PM
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a reply to: JBurns

Thank you. Our government is truly in a depressing state. Congress can't even work together for the best interest of all Americans. I'm sure you've noticed that every bit of voted legislation is divided straight down party lines. Congress is clearly divided. Unfortunately, I don't see it getting better until the American people demand some kind of change.



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 11:28 PM
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a reply to: WeRpeons


I couldn't agree more! It did bring me some hope when Trump crossed party lines, and I hope he continues to do so in the future. There are absolutely good and bad things about both parties, and the party lines are pretty evident in the bills working their way through congress today.

I'm all for compromising, especially since that is the only way we are going to bring the country back together. I realize a lot of people on all sides can't stand each other right now, but can you imagine what we could do if that energy was channeled into something constructive? The only positive to all this is that it appears more of us are getting involved in the political process, which is never a bad thing. If anything, we should be able to come together under our love for this country and of course our friends/family/neighbors living here.

As far as the term limits go, this is specifically looking at people like John McCain (among several others) who have occupied a public seat for far too long. I appreciate his service to this country, but the people have spoken and the traditional establishment is frankly unwanted.

I understand the counter-points, especially regarding increasing the layers of abstraction and I am unsure what would work best here. I do believe that our overall system is on the right track, but a lot of things (especially procedures) need to be updated in order to reflect the significant change technology has had on our nation. The Constitution and Bill of Rights must be protected and preserved, but the founders did explicitly give us the right to call Constitutional conventions and ratify new amendments should the need arise - they truly had a plan for almost everything here. The widespread support required to convene a convention and ratify the changes basically ensures that one single party is unable to unilaterally alter the core principles of the United States.

Technology is changing very quickly, and there are a lot of issues that should be addressed including some of the domestic surveillance programs (which have proven marginally effective, at best - although they're very cool capabilities). Preserving individual's freedom and rights is one of the most important things we can do in service of our fellow Americans. Our experiment in governance has shown that a free society can work, and it is up to us to maintain that legacy. I'm just honored to be part of such a legacy, one that is far bigger than any one single person.
edit on 10/8/2017 by JBurns because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 8 2017 @ 11:33 PM
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a reply to: JBurns






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