Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

September 17, 2012

The national house is divided

I've heard this story over and over again from relatives, friends, even the Sears salesman here who sold me a refrigerator and I've experienced it myself: Because of the polarized nature of today's politics, old friendships are ending.

Friends can no longer talk politics among those who have a difference of opinion. There is the point, counterpoint, and over 10 or 15 minutes it gets emotional, then heated. Often, one side shuts down: "I'm not going to talk about politics anymore."

People are getting angry when a Tea Party friend sends them birther or Sheriff Joe videos via e-mail. The conservatives cannot fathom how anyone could be so stupid to support Barack Obama.

I watched the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night on Fox News. Somewhere between Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity I moved into another room to catch a Sox/Twins score, and the muffled rancor permeated through as if the Bickersons were next door.

It was a national quarrel.

We are a divided, sneering nation. Tolerance has been replaced by suspicion.

The Real Clear Politics composite on the presidential race stood at 46.8 percent for both Mitt Romney and President Obama on Wednesday, an absolute dead heat. The RCP Congressional generic stood at 44.2 percent for both Republicans and Democrats. I can't ever remember a time when a presidential race and the Congressional generic were absolutely tied at the same time. President Obama's job approval stood at 47.3 percent approve and 48.8 disapprove. The RCP Electoral College map stood at 221 for Obama and 191 for Romney with Indiana in the "leans Romney" lighter shade of red.

Romney isn't faring much better. Gallup reported he received no polling "bounce" after the convention. A Pew Research poll revealed 20 percent found Clint Eastwood's weird interview with an empty chair the "highlight" of the convention, compared to 17 percent who said Romney's acceptance speech was.

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