Collaboration and communication were once fundamental virtues in politics and government. It was how democracy worked. People would run for office on a specific platform. If they were successful, they would be called on to work with other successful politicians, many elected on platforms that often differed in terms of priorities and even the role of government. But somehow, through collaboration, they would get beyond their differences and find common ground to address what were considered important public issues.
Along the way, this spirit of collaboration and compromise, where people were willing to put water with their wine and when they didn't make perfect the enemy of the good, has been hard to find in politics and government. Politics has become a fight to the death, where compromise is a dirty word and working together is seen as collaborating with the enemy.
It's not surprising, then, to read the recent Pew Research study Political Polarization in the American Public (http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarization-in-the-american-public/) that found the U.S. population is more divided on partisan and ideological grounds than ever.
The result is that people themselves have become more entrenched in their opinions and less willing to see the other side of the argument. The question is what came first, the chicken or the egg - are politicians merely reflecting public opinion, or has hardball politics created a more divided population? Whatever the case, it's not healthy for either democracy or governing.
It's time to make collaboration a virtue again.
Photo credit: http://womenspost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/democracy.jpg