He has been a friend of mine for years. We worked well together on school projects when both are children attended the same high school and our families socialized together. Outside of politics we have a lot in common, yet in the past five or six years we have become estranged. It isn't our fault. We are victims of the rising tide of political partisanship.
It's a damn shame that the billionaire puppet masters pumping money into politics to create divided, dysfunctional government have also driven a political wedge between him and me. I suspect there are many other friendships that have fallen victim to divisive politics. I tried to repair our friendship by explaining that the politics dividing us is actually a result of a third party attack on democracy, a third column, as I see it. But my friend is too firmly embedded in conservative doctrine to trust my arguments.
The larger truth is that there is a third column in American politics. It is the hidden hand of unprecedented wealth and corporate ownership. The only force in the world big enough to control corporate power is civil governments. The power elites don't what to be told what they can and can't do, especially by one person, one vote majority rule. They are accustomed to corporate governance which boils down to one dollar, one vote. Their intent is to cripple civil control over our democracy and make government do its bidding. They have already overwhelmed most states and many countries around the world. Whether you are conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, it is the ultra privileged elite that is controlling the media and writing the scripts. THIS really is the big picture. What was once the conservatives/ liberal continuum was ruptured and is now this great divide. We were never so different before, my conservative friend and I. This is all a grand scheme and we are all caught up in it.
The wealthy oligarchs donate to the Republican Party in a ratio of at least 2 to 1 over Democrats. Moreover, their strategy with the two parties is very different. On the Democrats side they only support targeted seats and spend money on targeted issues. They buy specific votes when they need to kill or pass legislation important to them (making Democrats look sleazy in the process). This appears like the traditional way we think about lobbying and government, and both sides to it. This targeted strategy also happens leaves room for Democrats to champion other popular causes that don't harm the oligarchs interests. This helps to preserve the facade of a democratic republic.
On the Republican side the Oligarch's mostly own the whole party. They have put together an unlikely coalition of fundamentalist Christians, libertarians, small and large business owners, conservative special interest groups, neo-confederate separatists and anyone else who harbors antipathy towards the federal government. In fact, antipathy towards the federal government is the common thread that hold this coalition together.
To gain support of the fundamentalist Christians, who oppose secular government, the elite ruling class spends lots of money ginning up social conservative causes, like abortion or same sex marriage. To libertarians they serve up small government rhetoric, incite Second Amendment fears and promote "big brother" narratives. To businessmen they rant about government regulations and pro-labor policies. To white cultural warriors they attack immigration, welfare queens and exploit racial animus. To neo-confederates they clamor for stricter interpretations of the constitution and direct verbal animosity towards the federal system. To hold on to bread and butter Republicans they demonize liberals and the Democrats to raise fears about voting for them. To all of these groups they rail about taxes, but the whole time their real goal is to control the levers of power for their own gain. There is no longer any room left in the Republican Party for politicians who loves government and wants it to succeed in improving the lives of ordinary Americans (i.e.: moderates).
In the end, the wealthy power elite are neither Democrats nor Republicans, neither conservatives nor liberals. They are out for themselves and their own financial interests. This is the third column of American politics and the hidden hand behind the growing dissatisfaction with our system of government.