MEET THE EX­HAUSTED MA­JOR­ITY

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

Even talk-ra­dio king­pin Rush Lim­baugh has de­clared that he’s just about had it with the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal dis­course — which seems to have mu­tated into a cease­less neg­a­tive force fu­eled by anx­ious politi­cians and a blame­minded press.

“I have to ad­mit, folks, that they’re start­ing to wear me out. They’re start­ing is to wear me out with the politi­ciz­ing of vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing that hap­pens in this coun­try. The drive-by me­dia and the Demo­crat Party are politi­ciz­ing ev­ery­thing so that ev­ery­thing that hap­pens is the fault of some Repub­li­can some­where or some con­ser­va­tive some­where. I don’t want to hear it any more. I have to. Don’t mis­un­der­stand. But I’m get­ting fed up with it,” Mr. Lim­baugh re­cently told his 14 mil­lion lis­ten­ers.

He is not alone. There is a name for this phe­nom­e­non. A group of re­searchers have now iden­ti­fied what they called the “ex­hausted ma­jor­ity” — who are just that: Ex­hausted.

“In talk­ing to ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans, we have found a large seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion whose voices are rarely heard above the shouts of the par­ti­san tribes. These are peo­ple who be­lieve that Amer­i­cans have more in com­mon than that which di­vides them. While they dif­fer on im­por­tant is­sues, they feel ex­hausted by the di­vi­sion in the United States,” writes a lengthy and com­plex new study from More In Com­mon, a non­profit re­search group seek­ing to find com­mon­al­i­ties among as­sorted pop­u­la­tions.

“In the era of so­cial me­dia and par­ti­san news out­lets, Amer­ica’s dif­fer­ences have be­come dan­ger­ously tribal, fu­eled by a cul­ture of out­rage and tak­ing of­fense. For the com­bat­ants, the other side can no longer be tol­er­ated, and no price is too high to de­feat them. These ten­sions are poi­son­ing per­sonal re­la­tion­ships, con­sum­ing our pol­i­tics and put­ting our democ­racy in peril,” said the study — also not­ing that the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal make-up is much more com­pli­cated than “the bi­nary split be­tween lib­er­als and con­ser­va­tives of­ten de­picted in the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion.”

That may be true. But the drama was afoot even be­fore Mr. Trump was elected. At the time, psy­chol­o­gists pub­licly de­clared that Democrats were suf­fer­ing from “elec­tion stress” and ”post-elec­tion stress.” The Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion even iden­ti­fied “toxic elec­tion syn­drome.”

In re­cent months, that stress ap­pears to have taken on a more ag­gres­sive form. Strate­gists who be­lieve that Democrats ab­so­lutely must win the midterm elec­tions con­tinue to or­ga­nize per­fectly timed po­lit­i­cal dis­trac­tions which of­ten blame Mr. Trump and Repub­li­cans for many un­sa­vory things.

Mr. Lim­baugh does not be­lieve this could prove an un­pro­duc­tive strat­egy in the long run.

“My gut is there are mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, who once this stuff starts, they tune it out. They’re fed up with be­ing blamed. They’re fed up with the peo­ple they love and sup­port be­ing blamed. They’re fed up with their coun­try be­ing blamed. So they just tune it out,” he said. “Dooms­day Clock” since 1947 — a sym­bolic time­piece that sug­gests how close the world is to de­struc­tion from all sorts of things. It now stands at two min­utes to mid­night, match­ing a record set in 1953 when both the U.S. and Soviet Union were test­ing nu­clear weapons.

“The peril grows and in no way di­min­ishes,” says Mr. Brown.

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