Talking Cultural Diversity

a discussion board for cultural and diversity issues by Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis

The Party\’s Over

By Thomas Kochman - 03.16.2010

David Brook’s recent NY Times column “The Spirit of Sympathy” speaks to the decline of civility and personal relations in the Senate and increasing polarization along strictly party lines following the pattern of the House.

But who is responsible for this fissure? Presumably bipartisanship in the past was at one time driven by pragmatism and common cause and a triumph of persuasion and personal relationships over partisan politics .

What we have now is Republican resistance and obstinacy rooted in ideology, an “all or nothing” mentality, and the self delusion that, despite losing the election, they still “speak for the American people”.

For persuasion and personal relations to prevail across party lines disagreements have to be rationally based, remediable, constructive and ultimately humanistic –a sensibility and sympathy for how laws, policies, practices and social neglect impact people –not just my people but all people.

The same could be said about the fissure between Israel and the United States which the recent Biden visit to Israel laid bare which, as Roger Cohen reports, forces us once again to ask the question posed recently by David Shulman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Are Israelis, cocooned, still able “to see, to imagine, and to acknowledge the suffering of other human beings, including those aspects of their suffering for which we are directly responsible?”

Senator Lieberman characterized the current flak between Israel and the United States as a “family fight”.

Well, for a family to stay intact common ground has to be established.

Maybe some form of therapy is in order: the kind where people first go to see whether their marriage can work and, before divorce, finally go to prove to themselves that it can’t.

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