According to the Pew Research Center, Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive than at any point in the last two decades.
Today, 92 percent of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat and 94 percent of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican. In each party, a highly negative view of the opposing party has more than doubled since 1994. Most of these intense partisans believe the opposing party’s politics “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being.”
These are among a multitude of findings from the largest study of American political attitudes (10,013 adults) undertaken by the Pew Research Center.
We are at the time of year when family, some Republicans and some Democrats, come together to celebrate. Many politically divided families not only give thanks for their faith, family being together and for the food to nourish their soul but they also pray political discussions will not occur.
Should political discussions during the holidays get to the point where you feel a food fight or fisticuffs might erupt, a bromide to save the celebration is available.
Enter Will Rogers (1879-1935), son of Cherokee and Anglo-American settlers, who made 71 movies, wrote more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns and became the nation’s leading humorist. His earthy anecdotes and folksy wit permitted him to poke fun at gangsters, politicians and controversial topics with no one offended.
Be the hero of your family gathering and share with them these Will Rogers gems, as they are as apropos today as they were in the 1920s and 1930s:
“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
“I am not a member of an organized political party. I am a Democrat.”
“There are men running government who shouldn’t be allowed to play with matches.”
“Lord, the money we do spend on government! And, it’s not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money 20 years ago.”
“The short memories of American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”
“Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with.”
“With Congress, every time they make a joke, it’s a law, and every time they make a law, it’s a joke.”
“Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, that don’t hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous.”
“Congress is deadlocked and can’t act. I think that is the greatest blessing that could befall this country.”
“Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.”
“Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate; now what’s going to happen to us with both a Senate and a House?”
“The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected.”
“Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”
“This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”
“If you ever injected truth into politics, you have no politics.”
“There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.”
“This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation.”
“Last year we said, 'Things can’t go on like this,' and they didn’t... they got worse.”
Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. Reach him at Steven.B.Corbin@gmail.com.