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Varied opinions without partisanship a rarity in modern U.S.

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Our youngest brother scored four really good tickets to a Cincinnati Reds game, and then he called his three brothers.

His plan was that we four would do a road trip to Cincinnati and spend the day enjoying baseball, beverages, ball park food and, as we all expected, ribbing each other.

The trip also would be a sort of homage to our dad, who was known to throw a bit of bull himself.

Dad was a huge Reds fan and regularly would pile the family in the van during baseball season and head east to watch Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and the rest of the 1970s Big Red Machine.

When we got to that part of the highway where one road takes you to the stadium and the other takes you across the Ohio River, we all laughed to remember how often Dad would wind up driving across the bridge into Covington, Kentucky, and then mutter under his breath (or maybe out loud) as he turned around. We laughed a lot on the trip.

We talked nonstop on the drive over and back. We reminded each other of when we were kids and some of the dumb things we did, and we remembered some of the good things we did, too.

All four of us have our own lives and families now, and we have our own ways of seeing the world.

I suppose we may have thought more alike on things such as politics and philosophical issues when we were younger, but it is clear we don’t all four think alike these days. The thing is, it doesn’t really matter to us that we don’t agree.

Something one brother said on the trip caused me to make a connection to a recent poll I saw about how polarized Americans are these days. This brother related that a guy he works with told him, “Man, you are the worst Democrat ever.”

Apparently, the co-worker wondered how this brother who calls himself a Democrat and votes that way, has so many opinions which run counter to the liberal party line.

Now, my brother doesn’t see a problem, and neither do I, but according to the above-cited Pew Research Center Poll, many Americans do.

The results show more Republicans are shifting to the right while more Democrats are moving to the left on core issues and beliefs.

The poll of 10,000 adults reveals 92 percent of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, while 94 percent of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.

Twenty years ago, 64 percent of Republicans were to the right of the median Democrat on certain issues, while 70 percent of Democrats were to the left of the median Republican.

The unfortunate thing is as we are becoming more polarized, we are retreating into camps of true believers who associate only with friends and family who share the same partisan views.

The report likens this alignment of the like-minded to living in “ideological silos” where the only opinions we hear are those with which we agree.

It’s not easy to find a compromise in such an environment. In fact, using the word “compromise” has become a signal that one is not ideologically pure enough. It is a difficult — and sad — situation in which we find ourselves.

At the stadium, we asked a passer-by to take our picture as we stood arms around each other with cigars jutting out of our mouths in remembrance of the stogies Dad would constantly be chewing.

He was a contrarian to the core and took the opposite side of an issue just to see if he could get you going. He didn’t usually go along with the conventional wisdom, and he was not a partisan of causes. That’s probably where we brothers get it.

It was a great brothers road trip, for sure. I wonder if Dad was watching the game. If so, I’m sure he smiled and lit his cigar when the Reds won.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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