An extract from Chapter 2 of the book Transcending Politics:
2. Battles and bewilderment
Politics has grown nasty – dangerously nasty.
In recent times, political topics such as immigration, sovereignty, the EU, Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Vladimir Putin have become increasingly toxic. Personal relationships fractured, as long-time acquaintances found themselves unexpectedly on opposite sides of spiralling bad-tempered political disagreements. Former friends dismayed each other by championing views previously thought to be beyond the pale. “How can you believe such nonsense?” they gasped to each other, in mutual bewilderment. “Have you taken leave of your senses?”
For many people, social gatherings have become more delicate experiences. We have had to learn to tread gently on eggshells. A Private Eye cartoon captured this sour turn of events as it depicted guests arriving for a wedding ceremony. The guests were asked: “Which side of the family: Brexit or Remain?” Sitting with the wrong camp might provoke a bitter dispute that would overshadow what should be a happy occasion.
With political discussions dominated by hostility and suspicion, it’s no surprise that the conclusions of these discussions fail to take full advantage of the collective insight latent in the community. Our best ideas are drowned out by the loudest voices or flashy distractions. The unwarranted certainty of true-believers leaves little space for the collaborative exploration of more nuanced solutions. “The people have spoken”, we hear. “You lost. Get over it!”
Politics at the speed of light
Some might say that there’s nothing new here. Politics has long had its unpleasant side. Ours is far from the first generation in which people have been deeply troubled by the political opinions of their erstwhile favourite uncles or nieces.
However, six factors deserve special attention as we hurtle towards 2020…