And speaking of John Avlon...
Hyper-partisanship (the main reason I opposed Ted Cruz's candidacy last year, and believe that the general attitude of what were then my fellow Republicans generally toward the "Establishment," while not entirely unjustified, was tragically flawed in its articulation and expression) created Donald Trump, the ultimate extremist. More than that, it hamstrung the electoral process and allowed a Trump to happen.
And lest the point be missed, the very ineffectiveness and misfeasance and unresponsiveness which fueled the anger that gave rise to Donald Trump is the result in no small measure of the fact that Congress is so busy treating the people on the opposite side of the aisle as our primary problem that they are absolutely paralyzed in dealing with the real problems we face. And that, in turn, is due in no small measure to the fact that we ourselves are so obsessed with our ideology that we would rather our problems not be solved than that the solution should involve any degree of compromise with the other end of the political spectrum.
That's true of both sides of the aisle. Red or blue, liberal or conservative, we're too busy screaming at each other to listen. And as a result, we create the monster that is contemporary Washington.
We create it, as God created the human race, in our own image.
Of course, we need to stand on principle. We need it desperately, because ironically we are more and more inclined in religion, in ethics, and in every aspect of our lives other than politics to stand for nothing at all. We have become, as someone once said, so open-minded that our brains fall out.
But maybe those two seemingly contradictory things area actually related. Maybe the fact that we can't seem to stand for anything in our personal lives is the very reason why we can't stand for the principle that cooperation and charity and compromise are the very foundations of a free society. Maybe we've so completely lost sight of our values that we've even lost sight of the basic principle that if democracy is going to work we have to listen, and not just scream.
Voltaire famously said, "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Maybe if we re-connected with that principle we would talk past each other less and get more done for the good of everybody