Moms used to be my go-to group when clients needed information relevant to their product or service and I needed to hear some sanity, empathy and common sense. No longer. The session I hosted for CBS This Morning earlier this month with mostly moms was an utter train wreck. Many of the exchanges ended up on the cutting room floor because three, four, even five women talked at the same time with a critical tone usually reserved for their husbands. I entered the studio with excitement and anticipation, and left with a headache.The election from Hell is a sign that there is also an economy and maybe later this year, a stock market from Hell. Angry people don't engage in as much commerce as happy people.
Today, our politics reside in an intellectual cul-de-sac. People only want to hear themselves pontificate, or listen to those who confirm, affirm, and validate. Proof? How many Democrats regularly listen to Fox News? How many Republicans frequently tune into MSNBC? Thirty years ago, voters rewarded politicians who spoke with vision and compassion about a “shining city on a hill,” “a thousand points of light,” or ”I feel your pain.” As recently as four years ago, we sought presidential candidates who were ultimately respectful, presidential, and statesmanlike.
Yet today, both presumptive nominees are so equally distrusted and despised by polarized sections of the electorate that their most effective message is: well, at least I’m not [insert other candidate]. As for the voters, they demand that politicians speak as angrily and as disrespectfully as they feel. Anything less, in their words, is politics or pandering.
Longer-term, the outlook is not good for a unified America.
I am fearful of expressing my concern publicly about the poison and toxicity of American politics. Democrats will claim I’m shedding crocodile tears, and Republicans will say I’m a wimp. So allow me to close with the hopeful words of one of my Hoosier participants, a rare voice of reason in a dark sea of negativity:America isn't coming together, it is coming apart. Increasing diversity calls for division, not unity. The United States should be shrinking the federal government and sending divisive issues to the states. Instead, it's moving in the other direction, creating a high stakes game where eventually one side wins permanent power. This is what caused the South to leave in 1860, and in the years leading up to the secession, the South could see what was coming as the free states would exceed the slave states in number and out vote them in the Senate. Today the focus is on the Supreme Court and demographics.
Many of us in this room disagree with each other, and it’s been loud tonight. But when we walk out of this room, we will all walk out together – as Hoosiers. And Hoosier values are what should matter most, not politics. We can disagree, but eventually we all need to come together.