I hear this all the time:
“________ is dividing this country!”
Insert anyone’s name from contemporary politics in there and the chances are good that you’ve heard that, too.
“Bernie is dividing this country!”
“Trump is dividing this country!”
“Hillary is dividing his country!”
“Oh yeah? Well, what about Obama! He did nothing but divide this country for 8 years!”
It’s all white noise, now. Everyone is dividing this country, it seems. And why not? It’s so much easier to see enemies. If I can see you, then I can label you, so I can defeat you. A country, founded on war, cannot tolerate peace? Is this us? Is this all we have left to give? Scorn, anger, and hatred? I don’t think so. Neither does anyone… at least, not out loud. Few would admit that to anyone, even if they could admit it to themselves. But everywhere I look, someone’s gettin’ out their pitchforks. It’s starting to lose all meaning, now.
And I get it. I really do. But, not all outrage is created equal, after all.
I, for one, will never ‘normalize’ Trump. I can’t. You simply cannot behave as he has his entire life, on camera for all to see, then ramp that behaviour up to ‘11’ during the campaign, and be allowed to be President. Period. So, I get it.
And it’s not like we don’t all have reasons to be angry. Very angry, indeed. We do. Our elected officials have betrayed us. They no longer feel obligated to promote the general welfare, which the Preamble to the Constitution establishes as a founding principle; a reason it was written in the first place, and in which Article 1, Section 8, clause 1 requires Congress to do. So, get angry at your politicians. They have it coming.
And you should reserve a measure of that anger for the media at large. After all, they sold tickets to the Greatest Show On Earth - “Selling Out The American People” all while giving us lots of memorabilia; Outrage, Shock, Disbelief, Racial Divide, and the best PTSD you can buy without a ‘conscription’. Why did they do this? Well, why does any for-profit corporation do anything?...
But these are the folks in power. The ones making decisions in our name, with real-world consequences to our lives. How we talk about them and to them is one thing. To quote Trump “They knew what they signed up for…”.
I have little sympathy for public servants who lie to their constituents, cheat the system for their own gain, and vote for the most horrible bills imaginable all while complaining that people are mean to them as they do it. Aww….poor babies. So, you want to get angry at one of these people? That’s fair game. Just remember ‘Love’, so you can channel that anger into righteousness and not veer off into lands that ‘feel good’ but don’t get us anywhere useful. But, we don’t just talk to them like that…
We’re also talking to each other in all too similar ways. And all with negative effects.
“You’re a Libtard Snowflake!”
“You’re a racist, misogynist!”
“You voted 3rd party! You gave us Trump!”
“You voted for Hillary! You gave us Trump!”
I’m going to float an idea. See if this resonates with you as it does with me;
We have no enemies, only opposition. Now, this is not a ‘fact’. It’s a ‘choice’. But choices have effects.
An enemy must be defeated. That’s a violent act, even if not physical in nature. For you must beat them! They are the enemy! With that kind of ideology, if you’re not careful, principles can become inconvenient and easily discarded in the pursuit of ‘beating them’. Victory, at all costs! And what becomes of that relationship after one side has been ‘defeated’? A return to normal relations? Anyone who thinks that has few healthy relationships. I would not seek marital advice from one such as that.
But, if you are confronted by the ‘opposition’, well, that is simply someone taking up a contrary position to yours. That can, and will, be solved with discussion, debate, and reason. Can it get heated? Of course. We are humans. Ergo, we are passionate. When passions rise, things will get heated. But, if we are civilized, passions can be tamed. We’re not at war with each other, after all... Right?
Opposition, not enemies. It matters how we think about each other for it directly affects how we treat each other.
We do have one stumbling block, as I see it. And it needs to be dealt with. Political parties. They are becoming profane and anathema to democracy. They’ve become weaponized to reduce us into tribes, with all of the primal fear inherent in the term. We hear this all the time. In every political circle you may wonder in.
We currently shame Republicans for putting ‘Party above country’. We do this because...well, because they do. They want what they want and any rules they claimed to cherish in the past are easily wiped away in favor of them advancing their agenda. At all costs. They simply don’t care anymore, if they ever really did.
So-called ‘moderate’ Republicans get swept up in this, too. Based on voting records, there is no longer any distinction of value between a Hard-Core, Right Wing Republican or a Moderate, ‘Tuesday Group’ Republican. That gap is shrinking faster than a hemorrhoid on Preparation H. But without the relief.
I hear all the time about how important it is to vote for Democrats. We all have heard and/or spoken to people who are adamantly in favor of voting for anyone who has a ‘D’ next to their name, almost to the exclusion of caring about what policies they might endorse. We need ‘D’s. Any ‘D’ will do. That ideology leads to ‘party before country’. If this is you, check your roadmap, please. Are you headed where you want to go? It’s a cautionary tale. Nothing more. Do as you will, but check your horizon re: your motivation and the endgame you want.
Of course, many who are discontented with the current crop of DNC leaders and the overall leadership of the Democratic Party (and have been for the last 10, 20, or even up to 30 years) fall under two camps. One side will tell you that you must ‘Dem-enter’; join the Democratic party en masse and take it over from within. Force it to return to the party of FDR and LBJ.
I wouldn’t concern yourself with the fact that the DNC just ousted all Bernie Progressives. I’m sure that was just fine….sarcasm intended. And well deserved, in my opinion.
The other camp is the ‘Dem-Exits’. Citing a variety of complaints, the most recent being the above mentioned forced exodus of Bernie Progressives, they claim that the Democratic Party is hopelessly devoted to Wall St and the Monied Interests and will never again go back to representing the people. But man, do they ever put on a great show looking like they might, one day, consider the possibility of maybe trying to, kind of, introduce the possibility of initiating some adequate bills that may or may not have a chance of producing the kinds of changes that may allow them to show that they might be trying to make you believe that they might….but, you get the point….
Poison. By design. From all sides.
If we’re busy fighting each other we’ll be way too busy to notice that the only reason we’re fighting is because they want us to. We can’t rise up against them if we’re otherwise occupied with each other. Or with the television. Or with the three jobs we need in order to afford the lifestyle we’ve been told since birth that we’re supposed to have in order to be happy. In order to matter, at all.
Or, incidentally, to be able to afford to live. Period. Since the cost of healthcare is such an abomination. Because it’s for profit. Just not for ‘our’ profit. For in the words of Jesus himself: “I shall mitigate your symptoms just as soon as you sign here, and here, and initial here, and hand over your co-pay, meet all your deductibles, pay for your prescriptions, navigate the intentionally complicated healthcare system designed to enrich the already insanely rich….because I love you.”
We love our leaders. We put a lot of faith and trust in them. We need to stop that. Leaders will lead. But where? What makes you so sure that they know where they’re going? Or that they’re going where they told you they were going? We’re no longer children. We don’t need to be led.
But we can follow. No difference? There is to me. Let me explain.
If you allow yourself to be led, you will go wherever they tell you.
“This is my leader and I was told that s/he has my best interests at heart. So, whatever they say is good enough for me.”
Now, obviously, that’s an oversimplification. I would hope to God that no one falls under that narrow a sub-category. But, however narrow it might be, it’s larger category of Blind Obedience is a spectrum and most of us have seen/met/spoken to people who fall somewhere on that spectrum. ‘R’s and ‘D’s alike. They’re happy to, within a spectrum, allow their leaders to do or say anything, unchecked. Some will even defend them. To various degrees, they will also denounce anyone who might criticize them.
People. With respect. Stop that. Now.
Question your leaders. Your head will not explode. I promise. Not to mention, it’s your duty to do so. And if your friends turn on you for daring to question your leaders, then they weren’t really very good friends in the first place. So talk to them. Persuade them of your argument. Take the time. It’s worth it because it’s necessary.
“These are the candidates I have chosen to support. I have researched their positions and I can stand behind them. And for those issues they hold that I cannot stand behind, I shall push my candidates to change their minds. Should they sway too far from their promises, then they shall lose my support and I shall actively seek to replace them.”
That is someone who is not allowing themselves to be led. They are choosing to follow. Until it becomes necessary to stop and change course.
For a democracy to be at its best, it is the responsibility of every citizen to know who is running and why. It is your duty to vote for the candidate who best reflects your views. If that person isn’t on the ballot, then either run yourself or, if you don’t want to (for it’s not for everyone), then write-in a vote for yourself or your neighbor. After all, your duty is to vote, not to vote for someone you don’t believe in.
Because it’s the duty of every candidate to persuade the electorate to vote for them, not to assume that they will because they have a particular letter after their name. They’re public servants. Not God.
It states in a recent 2017 Gallup Poll that Independents are making up a larger and larger percentage of the American population. 42% of the electorate, as a matter of fact. Whereas Democrats only make up 31% and Republicans a mere 24%. That tells me that Republicans and Democrats are doing an absolutely horrible job! They can each barely convince one third of the country to identify with them yet we’re all supposed to choose candidates from only those two camps! Additionally, this means that less than two thirds of the population get to decide who we ALL get to choose from! That’s simply unacceptable!
Now, political parties will not go quietly into the night. I have no illusions about that. And they can be useful, if they use that power for the public good. But the power they have is a power granted to them. By us! So, whether they like it or not, we are in the driver’s seat. We need to stop falling asleep at the wheel and decide where we want to go, as a nation. It’s not up to them. It’s up to us.
In an effort to keep as much power as they can, with as much money as they can, they have abdicated their collective responsibilities to the American people. As a means of distracting us from what is going on, and from what is truly important, they have chosen to act as entertainers. Very well, then. Let us treat them as such. And change the channel.