President Obama talked about the nation carrying on the unity it felt after 9/11, unity that was rekindled after the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death. The sentiment is noble but few believe that the unity will last. In part, it is because the differences between the parties are very real and very substantive, and in part because the struggle for power is the essence of the political beast. Perhaps it is not surprising that the latest fiasco with the checkoff illustrates partisan mentality at its worst.

Industry rhetoric has changed. It used to be about the merits of one policy over another. Now it is like politics in general—demonize the other side, use and repeat often a mantra that divides, and fight for power. The politics of class warfare, the claims of one side being beholden to one special interest group or another are not designed to resolve issues, they are designed to gain power and to avoid compromise or finding consensus.

Sadly, these tactics continue to work. It is like negative advertising—we all say we hate it, but time and time again the pollsters tell us it works. Divide, lie, demonize and win.

While most of us don’t like the results these tactics have produced on the national level, they have been far more damaging within the beef industry as they have become part of our industry debate the last 10-15 years. The reason these tactics are so damaging at an industry level is that we are small in the context of political clout to begin with. The internal divisions only serve those who are truly aligned against us.