A call for a New American Civil War

It’s time, I think, for a New American Civil War.

Oh, I’m not calling for American citizens to take up arms and storm the White House and Congress. Instead, I’m suggesting we all need to step back, take a deep breath, and reexamine the entire concept of political and social discourse.

America is embroiled in an uncivil war – a battle defined by coarseness, division, bitterness and rancor. We substitute name calling for debate, anger for rational thinking and hate for understanding.

Our country sinks under the weight of partisanship, crippled by the spreading paralysis of divisiveness and consumed from within by a cancer of polarization.

Republicans call opponents “democraps” while Democrats assail the other side as “repukenuts.”  A common ground, if indeed one can be found, is buried beneath a mountain of self-destructive rhetoric.

I’m as guilty as anyone. I’ve called the last two Presidents “madmen” or worse and referred to Members of Congress as “scumbags” and more.

Like many Americans, what happens in Washington pisses me off. I get mad. Mad people use angry words. But while diarrhea of the mouth may make us feel better in the short term, it accomplishes nothing in the long view.

We can’t solve our problems by calling the other side names. America cannot be salvaged by flooding bulletin boards and the comment sections of web sites with rabid rhetoric.

Instead we need to remember that our first allegiance is not to a party label or philosophical point of view. The partisans who issue talking points from the headquarters of either political party do not reflect the visions that our founding fathers possessed when they started this grand experiment called a democratic republic.

America is not based on myopic positions on abortion, gun control, sexual preference or race. It was founded on a basic belief that all people are created equal and a nation of divergent beliefs can exist and thrive as long as basic freedoms are guaranteed by a government run by the people, not politicians with purely partisan positions.

I’m not a liberal or a conservative, right-wing or left, Republican or Democrat. I’m a gun owner and hunter who believes in the rights of citizens to own and bear arms, a supporter of a woman’s right to choose, an advocate of less government and more personal responsibility.  My personal beliefs are a mass of contradictions that defy political stereotyping as, I feel, do the true beliefs of most Americans.

So let’s put the labels aside and stop subscribing to the unrealistic belief that any political party or ideological position has all the answers to cure America’s ills.

In the coming days, weeks and months, Capitol Hill Blue is going to offer what I hope are rational alternatives to the bitter partisanship that grips America today. We’re going to offer ideas for reform of a system that I truly believe is broken and beyond the band-aid fixes that are too often offered up as false change.

I’m going to call on friends of colleagues from 40 plus years in journalism and 20-some years in politics and tap their minds and expertise to start, I hope, a new American revolution. And I’m asking readers for rational feedback that avoids the name-calling, flame-throwing and rage.

With luck and some hard work, this will not be a revolution of arms and conflict but one of rational debate and a free exchange of ideas, a revolution where reason replaces anger, hope overcomes cynicism and action replaces talk.

America is already embroiled in an uncivil war. Our only hope is to replace it with a civil one.

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