Somebody somewhere said journalism is the first rough draft of history. Our staff writer charged with government coverage, Joe Tarr, has spent the last two weeks writing history, and then sending us dispatches from the Republican and Democratic conventions. This week he gathers his impressions from a fortnight in the political hothouse and puts them in our cover story, "Will We Ever Agree on Anything Again?"
Tarr was on this remote assignment thanks to the generosity of community radio station WORT, as part of their team at the two conventions. Besides his reports to TheDailyPage.com and Isthmus, he also aided the WORT staff in their coverage. This meant two weeks in the southeast; the GOP was in Tampa, Fla., while the Dems took over Charlotte, N.C. It also meant a couple of weeks of haphazard sleeping arrangements.
His experiences at both events have convinced Tarr that we as a nation are unalterably polarized. That, seemingly, is the intent of the politicians. It justifies the vilification of the opposition and obviates the need to really dissect the issues. All you have to know is that the other side is evil.
Then there are the party platforms, ostensibly one of the main reasons for convening in the first place. These ideological documents, crafted mainly by the more zealously partisan delegates, are problematic to the candidates. The politicians would just as soon you not read their party's platform. They don't mind you knowing the other party's, though, as reviled through their interpretation.
You can read the Joe Tarr experience and his pessimistic assessment yourself. But I, for one, don't think that polarization is inevitable. At some point common sense may break upon the citizenry as dawn upon the land. Then, perhaps, we will find common ground. Or, more likely, the demographics will change with time, and a whole new set of issues will arise among a reconstituted nation.