We have begun to demonize each other. Rather than claiming one person has the better idea, or represents greater experience, etc., we've begun simply condemning our opponents as being stupid, less the fully patriotic, or even desirous of hurting other people.
Much of this is at a symmetrical level or, if asymmetrical, it goes from bottom to top. In other words, it might be one voter attacking another, one politician attacking another, or a voter attacking a politician.
Rarely do politicians attack voters, though, especially those who elect them.
Hence the odd case of John Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania who is a key member of the House of Representatives:
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) is in an unexpectedly tight race for an 18th term after effectively calling the constituents of his southwestern Pennsylvania district racists and rednecks.There may be a lot of questionable individuals, but as a whole, "we, the people" have done pretty well. Presidents Roosevelt and Reagan placed a great deal of trust in the electorate. Today's politicians would do well to remember their example.
Earlier this month, he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s editorial board that “there’s no question Western Pennsylvania is a racist area” in response to a question about Barack Obama’s prospects in his district.