Obama, Romney and the partisans of U.S. Politics (Hr. 1)

(AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

(AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

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On November 4th, 2008, thousands of people jammed into Grant Park in Chicago to hear Barack Obama's victory speech. The U.S. President-elect stirred the crowd with his hymn of praise for a country that could rise above its divisions, that could find prosperity through political compromise and cooperation.

So what happened?

Four years later, President Obama looks like he's aged four decades ... and his promise of post-partisan politics has given way to even more disillusionment and entrenched divisiveness.

American politics is so polarized now that some liken it to a "cold civil war." The rhetoric surrounding the election is fierce and extreme. The right accuses Obama of being a foreign-born socialist Muslim conspiring with union bosses to rob Americans of their money and freedom. Mitt Romney is portrayed by the left as an out-of-touch plutocrat who dreams of building a paradise for the one percent and reducing women to the status of baby factories.

Indeed, American politics - and American society - have rarely looked so bitterly divided, and those rifts seem unlikely to heal after Tuesday's election.

Avis Jones-DeWeever is the executive director of the National Council of Negro Women. And Norman Ornstein is a political scientist and re45b sident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book is It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism ... co-written with Thomas E. Mann.

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