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Deep and Dangerous Divides

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This past week, Sen. Jeff Flake, a conservative Republican from Arizona, announced in an emotional speech on the Senate floor that he would not seek reelection next year, essentially because he feels Donald Trump, with his boorish behavior and penchant for picking personal fights, has commandeered the Republican party and he, Flake, just can't take it any more.

In an interview with The Washington Post published today, Flake acknowledged that his polls showed he had little chance of defeating an expected Trumpian primary challenger, but that was only part of his decision to quit.

"I couldn't sleep at night having to embrace the president or condoning his behavior or being okay with some of his positions," he told The Post. ""I just couldn't do it -- it was never in the cards."

Also today, The Post published an article based on a survey it conducted with the University of Maryland revealing "widespread distrust of the nation’s political leaders and their ability to compromise, and an erosion of pride in the way democracy works in America." According to that poll, six in 10 respondents said Donald Trump's presidency is making the American political system more dysfunctional.

Seventy-one percent said America's politics right now have "reached a dangerous low point." The situation, said The Post, is worse than any time since the Vietnam war.

It really is not news that America's political system is dysfunctional, that politics have become so polarized that there is no room for compromise and, thus, even within a Republican party that controls both houses of Congress and the White House, the divides are so deep that even they cannot agree on major issues of our time.

Then, add to that the differences between grandiose promises from the campaign trail and the reality of actual legislative proposals or regulatory actions. Promises of a health reform plan that will be the best in the world, but in reality a health reform bill that would knock millions out of coverage, and subsequent regulatory actions that are causing premiums to skyrocket. Promises of a tax reform plan that will make things simpler and provide major benefits to the middle class, but a proposed plan that would line the pockets of the wealthy and actually increase taxes for many, many middle class Americans while adding billions to the deficit.

I'll stop there. But it's no wonder that Jeff Flake is calling it quits. The atmosphere today in Washington is poison, unless you are a suck-up to Trump like Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Tillerson.

Sadly, there are no signs that the situation will improve any time soon. Meanwhile, the average American continues to get screwed.

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