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q&a A Are you a wingnut or a moonbat, a fiberal or a dittohead? Pick a side, because in this politically polarized age, the middle ground is nowhere to be found. Or maybe we just to have to work harder to find it. National Public Radio senior national correspondent Linda Wertheimer thinks we need to turn off the snark, stop jerking our knees and return to a saner time when compromise and common ground were the tools of political discourse. She shared her thoughts in a recent interview in advance of her Nov. 6 talk at UNLV. American politics have always been wild. Are we really living in a more partisan, politically polarized age? It certainly is if you compare the current age to my long, long, long experience of observing Congress in action. It seems to be that it’s just about as bad as I’ve seen it. Compromise has gone out of style, as has the idea that the leaders of the House and Senate and two parties should be friends, should know and respect one another. That idea died with Tip O’Neill. The general tone of presidential politics has changed to more of a “my way or the highway” atmosphere. How did we get to this point? It’s hard to put a mark on where it began, why it began and who started it, but it seems to me it had something to do with 1994 and the Contract with America. It was then that one began to sense there was no longer an appetite for solving problems and much more of an appetite for holding onto power. “Compromise has gone out of style” in politics, says Linda Wertheimer. Meet in the middle NPR’s Linda Wertheimer on Tea Parties, missing Tip O’Neill and why we can’t all just get along by andrew kiraly { } Hear more Why is partisanship a bad thing? Doesn’t it signal that there’s an actual difference between political parties? There are times when people can play at politics and it won’t matter much. When the country is prosperous, they can try out theories, try to solve problems everybody thought were insoluble. But if you’re talking about the time we live in now, this is not the time to play politics. This seems to me to be to be an “all hands on deck” kind of time. There’s no question we went through a long period of time when people were upset with members of Congress, when they would say they’re all alike — that’s something you would hear over and over — but it was never true. Will redistricting be a partisan nightmare? Hear a discussion on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at www.desertcompanion/hearmore 22 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n O c to b e r 2 0 1 1

Desert Companion - October 2011

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