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In this close election season, it is increasingly obvious just how divided America is. There has been a tension between the far left and right that has only increased since the early 2000s.
In the political documentary “Patriocracy,” presented Tuesday night by University of Colorado Boulder’s Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law and Journalism and Mass Communication, Colorado filmmakers Brian and Cindy Malone look into the growing political divide among Americans.
The film screening was followed by a panel with former Congressman Mickey Edwards, R-Okla., former Congressman David Skaggs, D-Colo. and Common Cause President and CEO Bob Edgar on how we as Americans can revive our democracy.
The film painted a very dark portrait of America’s two-party system and the lack of compromise across the aisle in recent years. Film narrator Josh Goodman noted that the decrease in cooperation comes from the intense party loyalty within the current political climate.
“Members who are open to compromise are pressured to stick to party lines,” he said.
The filmmakers suggest that most of the division today stems from the entertainment and commentary shows that are presented as news. No, not “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report.” The shows so detrimental to bipartisanship were shows like “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and “Hannity.”
The filmmakers claim that the presentation of these shows in a traditional newscast look leads Americans to believe that they are getting news from these personalities, despite the highly opinionated, sarcastic and often insulting statements of non-fact represented.
Most of “Patriocracy” focused on the conflicts between voters, interest groups, candidates and current politicians. Some of these conflicts included Citizens United funding — where corporations can act like people when donating to political causes. Fear mongering by candidates or interest groups and voters’ distrust of government spending and regulation of the deficit also contribute. These issues cause the parties to drift even further apart.
“It’s the people in the middle that get frustrated that the country is so divided,” Representative Jason Altmire, D-Pa., said in an interview in the film.
Before “Patriocracy” ended, leaving the audience with a feeling of depression for the state of the nation, the Malones offered a ray of hope. After talking to moderates at Colbert and Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity, the audience was shown that there is still a chance to turn away from negative politics. The film claimed that the future of our democracy is dependent on it.
“Not only can we do it [turn the country around], not only do we have to do it, we have to set an example,” one rally member said.
After the film, panelists Edwards, Skaggs and Edgar, moderated by Melissa Hart, Director of the Byron White Center, all expressed concern over the overt allegiance to political parties in this country. Edwards even noted that the founding fathers were against a party system.
“The first four presidents didn’t agree on everything . . . but they all agreed on one thing: do not create political parties,” he said.
“Maybe it’s time for a third party,” Edgar added later.
Most of the panel’s focus was on the effect that engaged and educated voters can have on the system. The panelists all agreed that the change and reform the system needs has to come from the public. Edgar wrapped up these thoughts by encouraging the audience to participate.
“If democracy is going to work, we have to understand the urgency of now,” he said. “Fix it [the system].”
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.firstname.lastname@example.org.