Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Enemy Within

The political atmosphere in this country has now become so toxic that it is practically impossible to have a genuine conversation that results in a productive exchange of ideas. We have all become convinced that the other side is in league with the devil. The conversation is not about philosophical ideas of leadership, but about the Armageddon that awaits should the other side either remain in power or regain power. There is no political middle ground anymore. The President is a fairly moderate left leaning politician. What has that gotten him? The right thinks he's an African Manchurian candidate, anti-Christ. The left thinks he's a sell out with no backbone. That is what happens to you in today's climate if you attempt to walk down the middle of the road. 

The real problem with this open animosity is that it allows the actual issues of the day to be pushed to the side in an all out attempt to win. You see the idea that the end of the world is nigh becomes the driving force behind all political action. Politicians use the most extreme language to describe the opposition in order to evoke a visceral reaction from their followers. The actual policies are not the important thing, the most important thing that voters take away from these demagogues is that if the opposition wins, their lives as they know it will be over. I could get into more complicated explanations about the backlash of white males and the similarities to the strategies employed by Nixon in '68 and even more forcefully in '72, but there really is no need. Both parties are guilty of overuse of hyperbole in describing the repercussions to America should their opponents be victorious in the next election. 

Lost in all the noise is the actual policy. Which politician or political party is simply talking about what would be the most beneficial to the people of America? The political parties are too busy bashing each other over the head to seemingly pay much attention to that. The Good of the people (which has long since taken a back seat to the greed and ambition of politicians), seems to be absolutely missing from our political discussion these days. The sad thing is that the followers of both parties have allowed this to happen. We have all played a part in turning politics into just the next "thing" that we have to win. "Our side won, hurray"!, who cares whether it will actually help "We the People". Republicans were disappointed by George Bush, so what, at least he won 2 elections and God knows it would have been the end of the world  if Al Gore had won. Those on the left are disappointed in Obama, but so what, at least we won and God knows it would have been the end of the world if John McCain had won.
The rhetoric and the hyperbole and the scare tactics have come to define political thought in our time. We no longer live in constant fear of nuclear annihilation, but apparently we have replaced that boogey monster with a new one called the OPPOSITION PARTY. It works for politicians because it allows them to whip their supporters into a frenzy without ever addressing any real issues. TV friendly soundbites are so much easier to come up with than actual policies and ideas to address the many real problems that we face. The part that's harder to understand is how WE the PEOPLE have allowed ourselves to become the standard bearers of and town criers for this sideshow. Perhaps it is just the fact that we need a mortal enemy in order to justify our own existence. I'm not sure what the answer is. I've certainly been guilty of it myself. But when I see and hear the noise that is generated by the media and the nonsense that is spewing forth from the mouths of our elected leaders, I just have to wonder if there's any road back from this. Is this it? Is this what our republic has come to? I think the quote "We have met the enemy and he is us" sums up my feelings.
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7 comments:

Jack Jodell said...

The polarization and overuse of hyperbole you refer to is deplorable, MyCue23, and, as you say, all the important things get lost by the wayside. Our irresponsible, controversy and conflict-addicted, overly simplistic media only fans these flames. However, it is difficult to stay on the high rode when forces pushing for radicalism and authoritarian social structure are constantly on the attack with lies and distortion. Civility and calm, cool reasoning must prevail, and we must all dedicate ourselves to that.

It was great talking with you on Gwen's "There Be Monsters" radio show. I look forward to the next time we can do it again.

SJ said...

@MyCue23,
I agree that it's all pretty disgusting, we're living deep in it right now, and it's actually affecting us and our future directly. While I'm always ready for straight talk about policy and law, and I think that's what you and I have fostered here and elsewhere, I have to call it as it is, and I can't give Conservatives a pass just because I'm tired of matching their shouts with ear-ringing retorts of my own. American partisanship, while not new in its level of toxicity or pervasiveness (Several Senators used to carry guns in to chambers in the 19th century) seems to be unshakeable right now, and not a passing phase as in times past.
But my persisting problem is, while many are pretending that the other side is "in league with the devil" as you mentioned above in a reflexive infantile defensiveness, there are many in government who actually are for lack of a better description.
John Boehner and Max Baucus (The fact that I have to self consciously name a Democrat after a Republican for fear some other reader think me a blind partisan is another symptom of this problem) are in league with the devil. These Senators and many of their colleagues, and interested partners in the Congress sell out the people's future daily.
Anyone screaming out "You guys too!!!" before acknowledging any particular corruption and ineptitude on the table for discussion is just trying to change the subject. It’s equivalent to shouting “a plague on both your houses,” which always works out real well for the house that is trying to take everybody’s mind off of the fact that it is already, inarguably riddled with plague. I can't stop saying that the GOP in particular is "in league with the devil" until they back off and stop all the lying and defending of the rich and the powerful corporations. The Establishment's and Conservative Far Right's constant accusing of the opposition, whether it be: Democrats, Environmentalists, Unions, gays, (or so-called Moderate Republicans) who don't agree with them of being their moral-Ethical equivalent is a fucking lie.
I'm ready to have dialogue at a normal volume BUT a civil, polite discussion with people who won't be honest about what they are afraid of, what they want and why they want it is just not worth having. That's the real reason none of this will die down from its current fever pitch from my perspective. It's the reason I lost a good friend this year who I had to recently call a liar to his face because it just isn't worth pretending on my part anymore.
I'm still ready to talk, hash it out, talk practicalities, and have honest conversations about the Republic's past, its present and future and you know?
I'm still waiting.
-SJ

Sue said...

MuCue I can't really define what has happened to our country, but I do believe it has fallen apart in just a wee 2 years because we elected a black man named Barack Hussein Obama. The wingnuts refuse to accept this president, no matter what his agenda is. He could give them all every hope wish and dream imaginable and they would still call him a socialist devil!

The screaming left, who demand more from Obama also need to wake up and smell the coffee. He is not God and can not move mountains like they hoped he could. They are a bunch of whining ninnies and need to wake up before we lose all that Obama has accomplished in the 2 short years. There is much more to be done and I want a dem president in the White House to do it!

Sue said...

can I leave you with a suggestion?? If you change your commenting from full page to the other way I could read your post as I'm commenting so I don't forget to say something more. Also it would give us spell check, and for oldies like me that's helpful! :-) thanks!!

Mycue23 said...

Jack it was a pleasure to talk to you as well. I hope it becomes a regular occurrence.

SJ, as always, you have stated your case better than I did mine.

Sue, my comments just come up in a box next to the post. I'll see what I can do. And thanks for stopping by. It's always good to hear from you.

SJ said...

I'll always be indebted to you for giving this kind of discourse a home.
-SJ

tnlib said...

Blogger has been causing problems for me when I've tried to leave comments, in this case three times.

Rather than repeating myself, I'm just going to compliment you on an excellent post. Not only are issues getting lost in all the shouting I wonder if we will ever again return to civility.