In the academic world, it is said that the fights are so vicious because the stakes are so small.

This saying also applies to small town organizational politics. I’ve heard a number of stories where people can’t move forward to act because they are fighting about something when in one case they agree  on the substance of the issue. When there is disagreement on substance, there is no compromise. This twilight zone is true at work and tragically true in our political institutions where the stakes are certainly not small.

How did we get to this bad place? On the one hand, Americans love to litigate. On the other hand, Americans love to raise barns. Is it as Robert Putnam put it that we’ve gotten used to bowling alone and lost the social glue? Our politicians point their fingers at us and claim that they are doing what their constituents want. We point our fingers at them and claim that they set us a bad example. What other than a catastrophe will jolt us out of this behavior?

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