As I See It: Political divisiveness

As we all know, humans are not all the same. We come in a variety of forms, but perhaps more important in the long run are attitudes. Attitudes are not linear like black to white with a lot of gray in between. They are more like colors with a full spectrum from infrared to ultraviolet and a full range of amplitudes from can’t see it dark to blinding. Politics, though, seem to put people on a left to right continuum. Left liberal, right conservative. The further one goes to one end the more they distrust the other end, yet the ends begin to in some was look alike (Communist or Fascist). Unfortunately, we are getting to the point where both ends seem to hate the middle. Even more unfortunate, many make assumptions about others based on their opinion on one issue, or what one extremist claims the other side wants.

Liberals want to try new things, and conservatives want to stick with what works. Not all new ideas are good. Some are good but not practical. We need conservatives to question new concepts to make the proponents prove their merit, if they can.


There was a time when the range of attitudes followed the statistical bell curve with about half in the moderate middle. One quarter liberal and one quarter conservative. Now the curve looks bimodal with 45% identifying as conservative and a similar portion identify as liberal. The middle looks virtually empty.

Professionals are inherently conservative, within their profession. They have codes of ethics the equivalent of fiduciary duty. Do what will not cause problems for the client. We need the same kind of conservatism in politics. Every plan has a side effect. Do the side effects outweigh the benefits? Who benefits, the majority, or special interest? The deserving or the undeserving? Contributors or rent seekers?

There are extremists who under the cover of conservatism attempt to stop any program that doesn’t benefit them personally and disproportionally. The extreme example was slave owners, some of whom would work slaves to death and just buy more. The slave owners who helped write the Constitution at least acquiesced to a provision to end the importation of more African slaves. Naturally, slavers found a workaround (breeding more) and slavery persisted another 60 years in the South. Slave owners impregnated slave women to give birth to the owner’s children, legally slaves. When slavery was legally abolished, Jim Crow laws kept nonwhite people in subservient situations for at least another 100 years.

While it was Republicans that freed the slaves and Democrats that promulgated the Jim Crow laws, things started to change after World War II. Democrat President Harry Truman desegregated the military in 1948. The Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964. President Lyndon Johnson was almost right when he said the Democratic Party would lose the South for a generation. It has been three. Liberal is the opposite of stingy. The anti-liberals mostly back the Republican party where they push for the law to benefit themselves, the super greedy, for whom too much is never enough, disproportionately.

A start-up that makes content moderation tools, named Sentropy, analyzed comments of right- and left-leaning groups. Right-leaning forums contained three times as much hate speech containing racist, sexist, religious and homophobic attacks and also contained six times as much white supremacist hate speech.

In the recent century, a number of nonwhite people have managed to achieve positions of importance, in spite of the barricades the pseudo conservatives place in their path. Who benefits from under-funding public education? Aren’t our keiki our future? Who benefits when working people cannot afford health care? Can you have a vigorous economy with sickly ignorant workers? What would John Henry be worth today? Is a CEO worth $100 million a year, even as he wrecks the company?


We still have a way to go, but we can accomplish more if both parties disavow hate speech and disown the haters.

Ken Obenski is a forensic engineer, now safety and freedom advocate in South Kona. Send feedback to