I don’t like partisanship, political or ideological, and I don’t like the partisans who follow political parties or ideological affiliations. I consider all partisans – Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, right or left – to be my enemies and enemies of my country.

Political parties and ideological groups today are dominated by extremists who insist in absolute lockstep by those who belong to their party or cause. Individual thought is verboten. Debate is forbidden. Disagreement becomes grounds from expulsion.

Democrats and Republicans owe their souls to the special interest groups that provide money and votes. These groups require strict adherence to a narrow set of views with no room for compromise.

But government in a country founded on the premise of diversity and individual rights cannot function without compromise, without debate and without a search for common ground. When any leader or political party believes their way is the only way and dismisses any dissenting point of view, government grounds to a halt – paralyzed by the lockstep that grips Congress and too many state governments today.

The problem is political extremism from both sides. The problem is a system that places allegiance to a cause or a party above the common good and the best interests of a country.

If you consider yourself a Democrat or a Republican, then you are part of the problem and cannot be part of the solution. As long as you think of your role in partisan political terms you contribute to the extremism that is destroying this country.

As soon as anyone starts a sentence with “I’m a Democrat” or “I’m a Republican,” I tune them out because I know their position is colored by their bias towards one end of the political spectrum or another.  They allow the partisan political pap that spills out of the mouths of their leaders like diarrhea to control their thought process and their lives. They unrealistically believe in their own superiority over others who think differently because they buy into the fantasy that their party’s beliefs are better than the opposition.

In truth, no one has the answers because a system that puts a political agenda ahead of the nation’s best interest is both self-serving and self-destructive.

Want to change the system? Start by changing yourself first? Renounce your political party and the corrupt system it supports. Stop calling yourself a Democrat or a Republican or a conservative or a liberal or right-wing or left-wing.

Start calling yourself an American, one who realizes that Americans, by nature, have different points of view and different ideas on what’s wrong with this country and what may be necessary to fix it.

Listen to those points of view. Consider them. Don’t dismiss them as crazy just because they happen to be different from your own.

Then try talking to, not yelling at, those who might disagree with you and search for common ground.  You might be surprised at what you find.

It’s a small step but a first one that we all must take before we can begin working together as Americans to solve the problems that will, if ignored, destroy this country.