Tag Archives: politics

A Brief Political Rant

Of the kind those who know me (and only them) will expect.

I grew up on a dividing line. It used to be one where conversations were held. The conversations were usually civil. They rarely came to shouts or blows.

That doesn’t happen much anymore.

I know it can get worse. In the U.S. we’re not killing each other in large numbers. Yet. But from where I’m standing in No Man’s Land, it’s not hard to imagine the current insanity leading to slaughter. It’s happening in other places in the world, and our history is pock-marked with brutal conflict.

And here’s the thing that terrifies me: With all the Us vs. Them jargon being tossed about in the U.S. right now, almost no one seems to realize that we’re all in this together.

People are treating “them,” as absolute enemies. If they aren’t spewing hate and making threats then they’re jeering, mocking, belittling.

But countries are a unit, like a family. All families, like all countries, are a little dysfunctional. You don’t necessarily like your family members all the time, and you will not always agree with them, but if you start viewing each other as actual enemies, the dysfunction tears the family apart. In short, you cease to have a family.

It’s a pity we don’t have a national version of family counseling.

My point is that we really have two options.

Nationally, the U.S. is headed for a cliff. Not like lemmings (because lemmings are, despite popular belief, far too smart to follow each other off cliffs), but like humans who are so engrossed in fighting each other that they won’t step away from the edge, even though everybody knows we’re in trouble.

Education, poverty, healthcare, national debt, environmental issues, the list goes on… We have serious problems that need solving. And we’re far too busy fighting each other to even converse about how to solve anything.

So, speaking to my fellow U.S. citizens. Forget, for a moment, all political affiliation. Stop trying to figure out who’s side I’m on and ask yourself this:

Do you want the United States of America to continue to exist, or do you want us to go down in history as one more failed social experiment? Do you want us to be pointed at as proof that different people cannot live peaceably together? That ordinary folks can’t be trusted with the right to vote because it all goes to hell eventually? Do you want to be the scorn of the world?

Because that is where we are headed unless we can look “across the aisle” and see fellow citizens. We don’t have to like them, we don’t have to agree with what they believe or what they say, but we do have to figure out how to converse with them again, and work with them, because the only other option is to lose our country.

Someone may read this who doesn’t care if the nation breaks apart. They may feel that “their” part of the country will be better off without the hated “them.” I have a hard time sympathizing with that kind of thought, because it’s reductive and naive. This country’s strength and health comes, and has always come, from the differences, the tension, the fact that we are forced to converse with and work with people who don’t share our views. Take that away, and homogeneity will emphasize the weaknesses in each position until we collapse. Those people you hate, also happen to be the people you need the most.

I can already hear the clamor of excuses. The “he started it!” “No I didn’t! She did!” juvenile accusations. Let me get one thing straight: I DON’T CARE. I don’t care who did what, I don’t care what horrible things will happen if “they” get their way. I’ve already heard it, and it is all beside the point.

What I want is people to put themselves in time-out until they calm down. Then I want them to get over themselves and start holding conversations in which they don’t simply talk, but also listen. I want this nation to become functional again.

…And yes, I know it’s highly unlikely that I will get what I want. But we did survive the Civil War mostly intact. I’ve touched artillery-pocked stone that proves it. Maybe, just maybe we can get through this bout of screaming insanity without so much destruction and bloodshed.

And a side-note to friends and readers in other countries. Yes, humanity is like a family, too… even more screwed up than my nation is right now. What happens to some of us, affects all of us. I’m sorry if the dysfunction in my country is affecting you right now.

 

P.S. On a lighter note (and a complete non sequitur) Tracy J. Butler of Lackadaisy created some hilariously disturbing valentines this year. Go forth and enjoy them.


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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