Is there no longer any middle ground?

Politics has always been a bit of a contact sport.

Sometimes things can get a little dirty. Backroom dealings are commonplace. Mudslinging has been around as long as there’s been mud.

But has there ever been a time when not just politics, but public discourse in general, has been so polarizing?

It’s like there’s no common ground, anywhere.

This week, B.C. had a throne speech and budget announcement.

Within minutes, our office email (and everywhere else) were full of the usual potshots pointing out everything that was wrong.

Now, that’s completely predictable and it’s been that way for some time.

One side does something, other side rips it. Other side does something of their own, that gets blasted.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

But there’s so much more venom today.

There’s no middle ground. Everything has to be a ‘win’ for one side or the other.

There’s ample evidence of this south of the border, where making personal attacks is commonplace for the U.S. president.

You’re either with him, or you’re against him and it’s become remarkably nasty.

Was there more civility in general in years past, or are we simply imagining things.

Also playing a large role in all of this is the Internet, the place where our basest emotions play out in real time.

Used to be you could have a political discussion with your friend or neighbour – face to face – and maybe you disagreed on certain things or policies or people.

You agreed to disagree and got on with your neighbourly business.

Now, emboldened by the anonymity online, it sometimes seems that if someone doesn’t hold the exact same beliefs you do, they must be the enemy.

Surely there are some broad strokes here, and many folks are willing to find that middle ground.

But the nastiness from south of the border is creeping into our own online political battles as well.

Attack ads are more commonplace. Smear campaigns rampant. Unsubstantiated blastings have become the norm.

And it’s not just politics. It can be anything from arguing over your favourite sports team or movie or burger joint.

Discussions online get hijacked, positions are taken and insults fly.

There’s likely no turning back now in a broad sense, but it should never be considered outside the norm to act with decorum and respect the opinions and affiliations of others, even if they are different from your own.

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