Just ask the political consultants and they'll be glad to tell you: the way to get elected is not to find consensus or look for compromise, but to find issues which divide people and paint those issues in the most extreme terms. There can be no middle ground, no gray area. Make it black and white, force people to choose, convince them your way is the only way. Military strategists call that divide and conquer. Politicians and consultants call it driving wedges.
So it's not surprising that one of the first things that happened when the blackout came was that it set off a blame game among the politicians. Not surprising, but not the lead, as we say in the news business, because while the politicians were plotting ways to avoid blame, the American people went to work, as they always do when the going gets tough.
A long time ago, someone said that in wartime there are no atheists in foxholes. And my guess is there are no partisan Republicans and Democrats in a crowded subway car that is stalled underground in pitch-black darkness.
So it was that in Cleveland and Detroit, New York and so many other places Americans did not panic, they did not try to place blame. They came together, directed traffic, gave each other food and shelter, and just did what had to be done to help each other cope with all this.
Once again, they are the heroes.
We elect our leaders to show us the way and to set an example, but our politics has grown so partisan, it is the people who are setting the example for the leaders. Sadly, many of our leaders have yet to notice.
By Bob Schieffer
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