After eight divisive years under President George W. Bush, Americans looked forward to a united nation under the leadership of Barack Obama.
But America today is more divided than ever and partisan bickering, deepening resentment and outright racism have polarized the opposite ends of the political spectrum.
From deep divisions in the health care reform debate to petty bickering over Obama’s "back to school" speech, the rhetoric of political debate is filled with hate, mistrust and hyperbole like never before.
Obama’s election spurred growth of racist militias and white supremacy groups. The new President is publicly scorned as a "socialist." Town meetings turn into shoutfest as even disabled Americans in wheelchairs can’t speAk above the jeers.
America is a divided house and conventional wisdom says a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Writes Steven R. Hurst of The Assocated Press:
The furor over President Barack Obama’s start-of-school speech to the nation’s students — challenging them to work hard, earn good grades and stay in school — typifies the country’s widening rift over politics and social issues.
It’s certainly an unwelcome distraction as the president prepares to address both houses of Congress and the nation Wednesday about his embattled attempt to overhaul the health care system, which has taken a hammering from Republicans and some middle-of-the-road Democrats.
Dating back to his campaign for president, some Obama opponents have tried to paint him as a "socialist." Since winning the White House, the attacks have continued over his attempts to invigorate the tumbling economy with a $787 billion stimulus.
Far-right critics now charge that Obama would use his back-to-school remarks Tuesday to indoctrinate youngsters into his alleged "socialist" agenda.
Fox News Channel commentators Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck have been prominent in attacking the speech. Florida Republican party chairman Jim Greer said he was "absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology."
Even Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, a moderate and potential presidential contender in 2012, said Obama’s speech was "uninvited" and raises questions of content and motive.
Many school districts have decided not to show Obama’s speech, partly in response to concerns from parents.