I’m in the mood to state the blindingly obvious this week, so, hold on to your butts. Politics in this country is crazy, and the Republican vs. Democrat idiocy is getting nothing but worse (or more entertaining, if you’re a fan of a good ol’ fashioned train wreck.) Let’s get things rolling with a Kurt Vonnegut quote, since no matter what I have to say on most subjects, I’d bet money that Kurt Vonnegut said it better first: “Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one kind of two human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.” Yup. TV and media are polarizing us sooooo much. It’s not good, dudes. Not good at all. Let’s just take a moment and imagine how things are going to look in the future if they keep going on this insane us vs. them extremist trajectory. OK, go! Imagine! I’ll wait.
You imagined it? Scary stuff, eh?
Why are we, as the citizens of this country content, to accept that there are only two (super rich and powerful) political parties; one dead wrong on everything and the other dead right? No middle ground at all. People on the far right and far left demonize their opponents and view them as evil and sub-human. This path is so clearly not sustainable.
And yes, of course, there are plenty of people in the middle. People who don’t cling blindly to their political party and vote only for their party without even researching the potential candidates. I’d bet that’s most people. But how long are these people in the middle going to remain, when they’re being bombarded by an increasingly polarized media? To say that they won’t be influenced by the media is to ignore the reality of human nature. We are influenced by what we hear and see. We are influenced by our surroundings. We are influenced by the people around us.
This article is so amazingly perfect that I want to pull like a million quotes from it. I’ll refrain from a million, though, and settle for one:
“Imagine a world in which there is a sufficient number of TV channels to keep each group, and in particular the less literate and tolerant members of the groups, wholly occupied? Will members of such groups ever again be able to talk meaningfully to one another? Will they ever obtain at least some information through the same filters so that their images of reality will overlap to some degree? Are we in danger of creating by electrical communications such diversity within society as to remove the commonness of experience necessary for human communication, political stability, and, indeed, nationhood itself? Must “confrontation” increasingly be used for human communication?”
This country was founded on the idea that a populace could manage without a monarchy and take care of itself, but I’m of the opinion that the founders of this country were hopelessly idealistic. They were all gung ho and intelligent and excited, but as time has gone on and people have gotten complacent, all that gung ho-ness and intelligence and excitement about this new form of government has not stuck. Most people don’t care, and they don’t educate themselves about what’s actually happening in politics. Or, they wish they could educate themselves about what’s happening in politics, but the polarization and lies make them feel like it’s useless to try. The fake news and the polarized opinions are everywhere all the time, but news that strives for real balance and fact checking and all that jazz is hard to come by. People have to seek it out.
To those on the extreme left or right (I’m going to define extreme right or left as the people who wholeheartedly agree with the one side and think that the other side is always wrong. Or even people who believe that there really are just two sides, instead of the reality of a myriad of different sides. A sidemirad.): Please, people, look around and realize that you can’t get what you want all the time. Your views are extreme. They do not line up with the majority. Majority rule, pals. Majority rule. Here’s what Thomas Jefferson (T. Jeff to his bros. Really. J. Madz and Benny Four-Eyes were big into nicknames like that. Go ask the internet.) had to say on that:
“Where the law of the majority ceases to be acknowledged, there government ends; the law of the strongest takes its place, and life and property are his who can take them.”
T. Jeff knew his stuff. He had so many books that, when the British burned the Library of Congress, T. restocked it with his own personal library of 6,487 books. He loved learning. He was awesome, assuming we neglect to address his personal life. He was racist and sexist, but he was a rich white dude who lived ages ago, so that bad stuff was depressingly common, and doesn’t negate his swell ideas on government. But isn’t that what we’re talking about? Nothing is completely one way or the other. I’m sorry if you believe that, extremist left and right wing people, but T. Jeff was smarter than you about government. He was instrumental in forming an entire country. What have you done lately?
Do you extremists even want our government to keep existing? Do you genuinely want, instead of majority rule, the law of the strongest? If your loud, fringe desires win out because you screamed the loudest or had the most money, then you win because you were the the loudest or the richest, not because you’re right. Stop fighting to get your way, when your way is at odds with the majority. Just stop it.
Even if your fringe belief is the right way to go (Let’s not forget there was a time in this country when the majority of citizens were racist pigs, and pretty much all dudes were sexist; non-racists and non-sexists were fringe people. Over time more and more people came around to not being evil, almost through attrition) you just have to get cool with the fact that big changes take time. Huge shifts in public opinion don’t happen in one election season. You can’t fix it with a single vote. The majority of the citizens have to actually believe it. For example, sexism. Susan B. and all her pals didn’t fix sexism by paying off politicians to make a rule that said women and men were equal, thus fixing sexism in one legislative human rights miracle. Nope. It was a slow process. So slow that it’s not done yet. These things take time.
It’s fine if you have fringe views in your own life, and surround yourself with only like-minded people, but don’t expect the Government to reflect your fringe views. A government is ideally going to have bits that everyone believes, but it simply is not supposed to have an official rule for everything you personally think is right or wrong. You can’t expect the rules of a country to be a perfect reflection of your own personal morality, unless you’re an evil dictator with a giant army, and even then the country isn’t living a reflection of your morality; the country’s just terrified of you.
People, despite who you see on the subway, are complex; with a whole host of things that make them think how they think, act how they act, believe what they believe, and vote how they vote. No matter how vehemently you believe your belief and want everyone to go along with you, that just isn’t how it works. It’s not black and white. A person’s opposing belief is not one side of a coin that simply needs to be flipped over to the opposite side of the coin which is your belief. It’s not a coin. It’s a nerd die.
Let’s all remember, it isn’t realllllly Republican vs. Democrat. They aren’t the only two options out there, any more than there are only two options on any issue. The only reason we get all wrapped up in those two is because they’re the two parties with money. But there are all sorts of other parties out there. Green, Libertarian, and heaps of others, I’m sure. The problem is that they don’t have the money to pay for the ads. And third parties are also excluded from presidential debates, thanks to the Commission on Presidential Debates. In order to be taken seriously as a candidate for the presidency, you kinda have to be in the presidential debates so the people can actually see you, and hear you answering the questions. No one’s going to vote for someone who isn’t in the limelight.
I myself don’t see how opening up the debates to candidates other than Republican and Democrat can be a bad thing. What’s wrong with hearing more perspectives, and having more options to choose from? What’s wrong with hearing people who have different ideas about how to solve the problems we’re facing? Especially if they’re really stupid, or frighteningly insane? Best way to weed them out. Unless— you’re a Republican or Democrat who likes the system as it is, because at least you’ve got about a 50/50 chance of getting elected; since the country’s pretty much split down the middle between the two major parties. Throw other parties into the mix and that throws off the whole system our two rich and powerful major parties have perfected.
Essentially, the only people who benefit from excluding third parties are the people who are running the broken system. But so what? Do we really want these two parties to just go on breaking stuff more and more, and polarizing everything more and more? Or do we want other options? Other parties that could break the system in new and refreshing ways! Or, maybe even parties that might be able to fix a few things, or at least steer us in a new, more healthy direction.