There is no question that over the last 20 years polarization has evolved in political thinking by the general public.
We as individuals and the media have talked about the new speed of information delivered to the public and the multiple options in receiving that information. I believe that the fragmentation of the media vehicles created the extremes of thought promotion virtually opening the door to every “special interest” group known to man and a few new ones.
What has happened that may not have been expected is the polarization of thinking by a large part of the population, the advocacy of certain political views by various media outlets and the desensitization of a large swath of the public or worse maybe a disinterest in the political process that results in the governing of the country.
The polarization is aggravated by the constant flow of information and misinformation. Constant reinforcement that
“Their” position is right, that the opposition is wrong. What is particularly disturbing is the that politicians don’t have a chance to breath, to negotiate with the opposition party on real issues without being exposed in the press or on social media. The results are defensive positions by politicians further reinforcing the polarized positions that result in predictable voting. The culprit is the accelerated option of information across the many media options.
This brings me to the eligible votes, approximately 60% of our eligible voters actually vote. Currently the voters are divided on a philosophical line of about 39% for each “side.” This means that the independents or undecided are 20% or more of the voting electorate and hold the balance of power. More importantly it means that 40% of the eligible voters are not interested enough or in my mind here is the key, they are not well educated enough to know that they can make a difference both in their everyday life and in the lives of their children and their children’s children.
The education problem will not be solved in junior college or even four-year universities that will wipe out the ignorance or create an understanding of their voting opportunity and responsibilities.
The education needed is basic, it starts in the first grade through high school and let me repeat it is basic education with books and teachers reinforcing the strength of our country and the positive objectives as stated in our constitution. Maybe if we achieved these simple but important objectives we might cause a few more or the millions that don’t vote to start voting and make a contribution to the well being of this country and his or her own future.
Recasting the education program as I suggest is an achievable almost simple goal. However the very polarization I’ve dwelled on in this blog earlier may be the cause of us failing to achieve the basic education program necessary to help break the control of our government by two groups diametrically opposed to each other. Can we break this cycle?