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The Great Divide

More than 80 percent of Americans who weighed in on a national survey conducted by Ipsos, a global survey-based market research company, said that Republicans and Democrats are more “deeply divided now than they were four years ago about what needs to be done to make progress on critical national issues,” according to an article by Thomas Miller, Ipsos senior vice president and managing director.Miller said there are few issues the parties agree on, and the gaps in their opposing sides are “huge.”He said, “Among those who believe political cooperation has sunk to a new low, a majority believes that the parties are so far apart on important subjects that compromises can no longer be reached.”Miller cited this statistic from the survey: 58 percent of Republicans think the country is heading in the right direction, as opposed to 13 percent of the Democrats. He said the 45-percent difference is one of the “largest in modern times.”Survey results also showed that 78 percent of Republicans approve of President Bush’s performance – 11 percent of the Democrats agreed. Miller said that gap is “one of the widest ever registered for a president since Eisenhower.”Miller also talked about how this discord will play out during the next elections. He concludes the Democrats will fare better next time around.The president has dramatically polarized the American political scene, he said.Perhaps Bush is partly to blame for the deepening chasm between the parties, but the Great Divide is becoming more predominant in this country. Even as technology closes communication gaps, even as we realize a more global market, there is a continuing polarization among all of mankind.There is a widening gap that I think is alarming between Christians and non-Christians, between the middle class and the rich, between the public and private school systems and so on. And there appears to be a gap right here in Falcon – I call it the “border gap.”I don’t have enough space to discuss polarization as it relates to religious beliefs, income levels and education issues, so I’ll focus on the Falcon “border gap.” My guess is everything is related anyway.I coined the phrase “border gap” after hearing there are some assumed differences between Falcon residents who live on the south side of Highway 24 and residents who live on the north side.It’s been overheard and quoted directly to my reputable sources that those of us on the south side of the highway are independent rabble rousers who wouldn’t support an increase in taxes even if the lives of our kin were at stake. I use that word “kin” because it’s also been suggested that we southerners are not quite as sophisticated or worldly as the northerners. (Excuse me a minute while I grab my teeth and run outside and squeal like a pig to call the hogs – uh, I mean dogs.)Well, we aren’t so backwards, really. Most of us have five-to-10 acres of land and enjoy incredible views of Pikes Peak and the Sangre de Cristos. We picked our land “pretty darn good.” While we ain’t close to the town happenings, we are a “fer piece” away from the snarled traffic at Safeway.Regardless of my mockery of this separatist notion, unfortunately, it is familiar.As the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce executive director for three-plus years, I witnessed the same in the Monument, Palmer Lake and Woodmoor areas. Only it was the easterners versus the westerners. Many of those in the newer, higher-priced community of Woodmoor (east side of I 25) snubbed their noses at those who in lived in Palmer Lake (west side of I 25). The Palmer Lake folks weren’t necessarily a bunch of Elly Mays and Jethros – they were old hippies, artists, teachers, musicians – liberal types. Or they were commoners – blue collar workers – landscapers, plumbers, electricians, roofers – the ones who built those mansions on the other side.To be fair, those on the west side believed their eastern neighbors were a bunch of stuffy, ol’ corporate types or stuffy, ol’ retired military brass asses.Let’s face it: Where there is growth, there is elitism.So it goes. There’s always someone to rebuff – whether a hippie or a redneck; a Catholic or atheist; a Democrat or Republican; or someone on the other side of the fence.Why are we so enmeshed in a desire to create a society of the same? Why are we so quick to find fault with our differences that make up what is unique about the human race?What would it be like today if the white man would have come to this land we now call America and negotiated with the Native Americans? Let’s imagine this conversation:White Man: “I sailed to this land and would like to trade you gold or horses for some of it. I would like to know more about your culture and your people.”Native American: “I don’t understand all that you say, but please sit down with me and my family. I will tell you about this land and our people. Perhaps we can share.”It wouldn’t sound so ridiculous or naÔve if that conversation had actually taken place, because history would have been rewritten.What would it be like if land belonged to no one individual? What if we had to decide how to share the land among us – not for individual gain but for the good of the earth and all of its beings?Developers and county planners would actually work for us.What would it be like if we abandoned our descriptors of cultural, religious and political differences – he’s black, she’s white, he’s Christian, she’s Republican. What if we abandoned political parties?Elections would be won not on agendas, but on experience, talent and skills relative to the job.Perhaps it’s too simple, but there’s a saying, “World peace begins at home.” I might have made that up. However, the ideology that led to the Berlin Wall or the Great Wall of China started somewhere – probably in some small town, where someone said, “Those people on the other side of the tracks aren’t as smart or as worldly as us.”Marylou.doehrman@newfalconherald.com

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