I read a lot of history (it was my major in college) and I've followed politics closely since I was a kid (back in the middle ages). As a result, I know Washington, D.C. is not for the timid and politics is one of the rougher sports. Politicians do well to assume an armadillo hide. However, this seems to me a unique time in U.S. politics, when Republicans are proud to walk in "lockstep" to defeat any administration proposals, and Democrats can't seem to get their act together.
Many people believe this has come about because our president is mixed race but I don't agree. I'm not naive, of course, about the large number of bigots in this country who are against his every move simply because he's black and because he is the product of an interracial marriage.
Not to pick on former President Bush long after he's left office, but I believe this harsh division between parties began during his administration and I blame that partly on his attitude that you were either with him or agin' him. I fondly remember voting for President Clinton because he was a man who could compromise and bring people together. Naturally, he was praised for that ability as a candidate, then condemned for it as president. Go figure.
Now we have the phenomenon of tea parties versus coffee parties. I have very reasonable friends who participated in a tea party demonstration when those small demonstrations began, but since then the wackos seem to have taken over the movement. I read recently that at one tea party not one person believed President Obama was born in the U.S.A., all believed he was a socialist/marxist, and most believed he was a racist who hated white people. Unbelievable!
More encouraging to me are the coffee party gatherings where everyone is encouraged to discuss issues calmly and reasonably. They aren't strictly one-party parties, and everyone hopefully learns something. Best of all, they are talking, not shouting. They are learning, not denying knowledge. They aren't there out of hate, but out of interest.
When I hear Sarah Palin talking about reloading, and I see my own respected congressman is in the crosshairs on her map, I am appalled at the increasing violent references and attitudes in this country. When I hear about some of the strange misinformation being bandied about, I am greatly worried about the dumbing down of this country. We all need to just calm down and talk things out. Otherwise I fear for what will happen.