Enough with the Dichotomy

I  usually try to stay out of political discussions, but I need to get this one off my chest.

I get really sick of the “either/or” mentality proliferated in the current politics of my homeland. The reality is, most  people fall somewhere between the “Republican” and “Democratic” ideologies.  The rest of the world rarely sees this, though, as the loudest voices are the ones on the fringes.

It seems that the more similar our political parties become (that is another discussion, and one I would rather not start here) the more they feel it necessary to differentiate themselves with hot-button issues and combative politics. Though I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, I feel like our political system, media included, is intent on polarizing the nation.

I want them to stop it. I doubt that they will. After all, frightened and angry people are easier to lead, up to a point.

A good example of this artificial dichotomy is our “election map.” Sure, it is simple for the sake of being easy to read, but when most people are presented with a map of the States colored in stark red and blue they come away with the idea that there are two monolithic sides at war. A red state is a red state, and a blue state is blue.

Forgive my language, but that’s bullshit. Heaps and mounds of steaming bovine excrement.

Every state in the union is purple, as are most of its citizens. It may be impossible to quantify the shades of red and blue in individuals in order to give an accurate representation of national political leanings, but surely we can do better than the red-state/blue-state false dichotomy.

Thankfully, someone has done this. M. E. J. Newman,  I thank you for your fascinating election maps.

Take a quick look at this:

This is a map representing percentages of votes by county in the 2008 presidential election. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see any completely red or blue states. I hope this shatters a few illusions, like the assumption that certain regions of the country can be effectively represented by stereotypes. For any who don’t know, I hate stereotypes and blanket statements.

And here is a cartogram, a map where the counties have been re-sized to represent their populations.

Interesting, no?
Now, I understand the usefulness of the stark red and blue maps when representing electoral votes on election night. But I post this from a need to point out to any who don’t know, that the U. S. of A. cannot be accurately represented by a dichotomy. Even the purple map fails us, for it does not show the growing frustration with the two-party system, the fact that many people who vote Republican or Democrat are not strongly one or the other, or the votes for Green, Libertarian, Independent or Write-In candidates.

It is time for our nation to wake up and stop thinking in terms of “either/or.” The cynic in me says that there is worse to come. Fear and anger are blinding more and more people, and when in that state people prefer to see those who disagree with them as caricatures rather than people. Stereotypes are easier to hate and everyone, whether they admit it or not, harbors some hatred for a stereotype or two.

I don’t know what else to do, save to break down assumptions one person at a time and keep praying that the People of the United States of America will stand up and say “stop putting us in your boxes and listen to what we really think!”

P.S. I know that posting something about politics at this time may seem like an invitation, but I will delete any comment that contains partisan vitriol. This isn’t the right place for that kind of venting.

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About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

8 responses to “Enough with the Dichotomy

  • mjschneider

    That is a magnificent rant. Duly Tweeted.

  • Rob

    Amen. We’re on the same page here. I get a bit wound up this time of year myself, but the more I see what’s going on in America, the more I realize that politics is not a uniting force and will never bring us together as a people. There’s another kingdom for that. Thanks for the reminder.

    • jubilare

      It is easy to get riled. It’s good for us (myself very much included) to be constantly reminded of the implications of shared humanity and to that end it is vital for us to see through lies that turn people into statistics or stereotypes. At least, that is what I believe.

  • K

    Since you will never find a candidate with whom you agree 100%, you will inevitably have to compromise to vote for someone. If you want to vote for a candidate who will win, you will have to compromise further. The task then becomes finding someone who will appeal to many of your fellow citizens without your disagreeing with the candidate on any issue that is a non-negotiable.

    For me, in practice, this means voting Republican in every national election. As long as Democrats wholeheartedly support [abortion], I cannot in good conscience vote for them. They could craft my ideal platform of economics and foreign policy and the rest and it wouldn’t matter a whit if they continued to insist upon the sanctity of abortion.

    On the other hand, the Democrats would get my vote tomorrow (figuratively speaking, since the next election is a year away) if the GOP went pro-abortion and the Democrats became pro-life.

    Kind of a long-winded way of saying that I don’t vote for a party, I vote for the candidate who I think has the best shot at getting elected and putting in place the policy I care most about.

    • jubilare

      You may be angry with me for editing your comment, but I did give fair warning at the end of my post. I regret having to quash your self-expression, but I will not allow hostilities to break out here. What you say is very true, the issue of abortion is huge for me as well, and I know multiple people who have expressed your exact same feelings to me.
      The reason I edited is this. I understand your feelings, your horror, your anger. I feel them too. However, spewing bitterness at people who reject the fundamental moral basis of a pro-life position is exactly the problem our nation faces. Rising anger and bitterness that is blocking all avenues of communication. As long as each side, or each facet of each side sees those disagreeing with them as enraged, insulting, arrogant or bitter instead of rational, moral people that can be engaged in conversation, we are going to get nowhere.
      Everyone who uses bitter rhetoric is their own worst enemy and the worst enemy to their cause. I’m not advocating the watering down of the message, but rather the thoughtful application of words in order to help that message spread. I truly believe that the only way we can get through this is by trying to repair the broken lines of communication. If we don’t, one way or another this is going to explode into war and death.

  • A dialogue on the cultural divide « Catecinem

    […] confusion is sure to take root. The entire discourse basically hinges upon a binary construct, yet as Jubilare recently ranted, it’s not actually a dichotomy. Framing it as such only cracks the frame and skews the […]

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