The current impeachment situation that has developed in Washington D.C., should be something that catches my eye.
I have always been a fan of politics, all the way back to when I was a four-year-old in preschool. I distinctly remember placing a mock ballot in a fun little class “election” we had. That was in 2004, and our teacher wanted us to “participate” in that year’s presidential election by coloring blue or red on an index card and placing it in a tissue box.
I chose blue, not because I was an ardent, toddler supporter of John Kerry, but because blue was my favorite color. I had no idea what a political party was at the time and, further, no clue that the divisiveness between those parties was so vile and that the chasm between them would only widen as I grew older.
Flashing forward to 2008, the election was home to many cordial moments between former President Barack Obama and former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), including McCain defending the Illinois Senator from the accusation that he was a foreigner or, as the questioner so eloquently put it, an “Arab.”
“No ma’am ... He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about,” McCain said, according to Time Magazine.
Say what you will about McCain and Obama — both are justifiably targets of criticism — but they conducted themselves with a measured dignity that comforted Americans during the 2008 election. The country’s housing market was in the dumps, the world economy was holding on for dear life, yet Americans could remain comforted that no matter who won that election, there would be a pragmatic force driving the nation toward its future.
Whether Obama lived up to those expectations is a matter of debate, and not one that I am particularly keen on addressing. It was not until 2012 that the first signs of hyperpartisan decay became truly evident, with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah.) facing off against the incumbent, Obama. That election was notably more divisive than the last, with Romney’s infamous 47% comment and Republican hawking of the Obama Administration’s handling of the Benghazi crisis.
Still, 2016 proved that things can always get worse. In comparison, the 2016 presidential election made the 2012 edition seem like Romney and Obama were playing patty cake with each other. Think back to the aforementioned McCain quote — could you really imagine former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or President Donald J. Trump calling the other a “decent family” person during the 2016 election?
Trump emerged as a candidate like no other, and his unrelenting, vicious attacks at his opponents transformed politics — and the nation — as a whole.
Trump’s blunt manner, coupled with his success, was a shock to America, and it forced his opponents to fire back with the same intensity that he brought to the table. Both sides ingrained themselves further into their ideological stances, which brought us to the current point of divisiveness just for the sake of divisiveness. No longer is the opposing party merely home to a different, valid political philosophy. Instead, they are Communists, they are Nazis, they are evil and the propagators of everything bad in the world.
The media is also to blame for increasing partisanship. Intertwined with Trump’s entertainment background, the news — particularly stations that have a 24-hour news cycle — turned politics from a serious forum of national improvement, to a reality show filled with cults of personality rather than policy. News stories are no longer about disseminating facts to the public, but to raise viewership through any means possible, including accusing the “other side” of hysterical, reprehensible actions.
It was entertaining, for me at least, to watch the 2016 election. Now? It is just too much. This current impeachment has too many characters, too many differing plot lines and too many unanswered questions to keep up with. The age of information rapidly turned into the age of way-too-much information, much of which is misleading, editorialized or outright false.
Nowadays, I wish I could go back to the days where party politics was as simple as it was in preschool — picking my favorite color. The media turned politics into a show, and with impeachment, it has completely jumped the shark.
Jake McGowan is the Opinions Editor for The Daily Targum.
*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.
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