Can Divisive Issues Bring Us Closer Together?

imageI stand by Israel. Obviously. Duh. I always have, and even more so since returning from my first visit there earlier this summer. For the past several weeks I have been digesting all the news and information about the conflict in Gaza I can find. But instead of my normal news sources, Facebook has become my major supplier of news about Israel.

Those Facebook sources my friends post, much to my continued surprise, are from Fox News and other conservative sources. And they are great articles. Even Hannity and Beck and others have written some very thoughtful, logical, intelligent stuff on the conflict. They make sense. And I’m not used to seeing that from those guys.

You see, I am comfortable in my liberal ideals, farther to the left on social issues, closer to middle on some economic ones. I usually view Fox News and many of the conservative commentators with disdain. I have trouble relating to anything they say, and can’t follow their rationales for going along with the things Tea Party politicians somehow say with a straight face.

So you can understand why it makes my brain hurt when I hear Sean Hannity actually make sense. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe, a potential outcome of this summer of upheaval is the knowledge that these people I view with contempt aren’t the idiots I thought they were. With that newfound knowledge, maybe in the future I will listen to what they say about other topics instead of discounting them outright based on who they are. And maybe there will be others that will open their minds just a little bit, helping to explore different viewpoints, bringing us just that little bit closer together.

I’d like to think that could be true, that the most divisive issue out there is somehow, ever so slightly, narrowing the great political divide in this country. Too Pollyanna? Too optimistic? Too naive?

Assuming I have a few conservatives feeling vindicated that I’m seeing clues of intelligent life on whatever planet they come from, I have to immediately test our new shared understanding by bringing up my other favorite divisive topic… Obamacare.

Obamacare has already helped about 10 million people get insurance. I assume some of those ten million people are conservatives. That 10 million number could be higher if more states would have taken advantage of the expansion of Medicaid. And, again, I assume some of those still uninsured who could have benefited from Medicaid Expansion if it was available in their state are also conservative and realize that they are missing out. Obamacare is far from perfect, but it is making a difference, despite all the predictions that it wouldn’t work. The website was fixed, more people than expected did sign up, people are paying the premiums, young healthy people are signing up, premiums are not nearly as high as feared (and in line with historical increases in health care inflation), small business hasn’t collapsed, etc.

If I can admit the right’s coverage and understanding and support of Israel is far stronger than it has been from my normal news sources, can some conservatives admit that Obamacare, despite its faults, is helping people and is not the total disaster they predicted?

Over the past couple decades this country has become too divided, where a politician risks career suicide just for appearing like they may agree with the other side on any topic. It’s painful to watch. I know a couple surprisingly thoughtful articles about Israel from Fox News aren’t going to fix this. But if it even causes the smallest mind shift, even in a minority of the population, then that gives reason for hope. And hope is the most we can ask for at this point.

Obviously my true hope for the Gaza conflict is the disarmament of Hamas and some extended period of relative peace. But a little bit of progress back home wouldn’t be a terrible thing either.

Am Israel Chai.