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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A stern and silent pride

Here’s the thing that’s upsetting me most about where the political discourse is now in this country.

Politics has devolved into a team sport.

It should not be about what team or what side you are on. It should not be about if you’re going to win or lose. It's not US vs THEM because we're ALL US. The country should be coming together and making a thoughtful decision on who is the best person to lead the country, not splitting into violent angry hordes choosing up sides and drawing lines in the sand.

"Games" are played, "races" are run. Tactics are used. Voters are manipulated to grant an advantage to one side or a disadvantage to another. Dirt is dug for, not in the interest of furthering the discourse, but in the interest of gaining some imaginary ground or racking up invisible points. It’s all bullshit, and we all lose.

Partisan politics operates not for the people, but for the lobbyists, the corporations, and the special interest groups. Disinformation is spread far and wide on both sides. Both sides look for “zingers” to use against the other. He said-she said moves out of the elementary school and on to the debate floor. It’s all bullshit, and we all lose.

It makes me sad. People are losing their minds. People brandish McCain or Obama buttons and banners and signs like Steelers or Browns jerseys and flags. Politics is not a team sport, and when it’s played like one, the dialogue is coarsened. Still, people go around flinging insults and giggling behind their hands and engaging in games of “the dozens” like when we were kids. We as a nation should have outgrown pasting someone’s head on someone else’s body and sending it around the office as truth. We as a nation should have outgrown whispering in the corners about the religious affiliations of grownups. We as a nation should have outgrown perpetuating racist, sexist, and ageist stereotypes and flinging them at each other like so much rancid monkey poo. It’s all bullshit, and we all lose.

So now what? Is voting even going to make a difference this time? Can we get out of this international nightmare, this economic nightmare, this environmental nightmare? Can we all stand up and say, “hey, you know what, we have our differences, but let’s find some things to agree on”. Truthfully, I can’t even imagine that happening. Science, history, sociology, archaeology, economics, and human decency are all ignored and twisted and used for nefarious purposes to prove a point on one side or the other. You know the line by now. It’s all bullshit, and we all lose.

I’ll go back to a message that Al Gore delivered in his amazing speech not so long ago. We have an opportunity to become the next great generation. We have the chance to make a difference, to really change the world for the better. We have the means and the ability to have history look back on us and smile, because we gave our children and grandchildren a future, and did it all in spite of the limitations imposed on us by an inflammatory press, by a consumption-driven society, and a poisonously dualistic political process.

At heart, I’m an optimist, but in reality I’m a pragmatist. One of those people who think communism, libertarianism, socialism, democracy, capitalism, even organized religion are all good ideas in one way or another but that human nature leads us to let each other down. At this point, I hope and pray (in my own agnostic fashion) that we can pull ourselves out of all these quagmires at once and lead future generations to a better tomorrow.

1 comment:

Krafty Keri said...

Thanks for this beautiful post. You put a lot of my own thoughts into words.