Politics and discord

The worse things the more it seems nearly impossible to right the ship that is the United States government. A lack of unity or good leadership or the inability to talk to one another and be civil, are all reasons given. However, nobody ever asks why is it bad to disagree on politics in general. What exactly is wrong with fundamentally being at odds on important issues that we value as people? Does this preclude working together for shared goals? Well one of the problems is that many of us have very black and white thinking. It is very easy to simplify complex issues and put people into fundamentally different camps. This dichotomy makes life easier and makes conflict easier to justify. If the other side is fundamentally wrong about everything, it is okay to fight them with every weapon at your disposal. Your inability to get along, is then seen as virtue. This is not only on the right but also on the left. They are slightly different but both major parties in the United States have a moral foundation for their style of politics that are divorced from reality on the ground at least policy wise. For the right, they take the moral clarity they feel they get from religion and apply that to policy. They consider the democrats evil and because of this they are able to avoid the worse of dissonance because of a higher calling. They believe that their culture gives them the moral high ground and that allows them to believe no matter how bad their lives get, that America is the greatest country in the world. This is why rational arguments don’t reach them. It isn’t a matter of them being stupid or unable to understand, it is a matter of their need to appeal to the moral supremacy of their ideology. The same can be said for the Democrats but slightly different. The Democrats believe in the power of the state to do good and that the responsible classical liberal foundations of this country are worth preserving. They believe in rhetoric and skillful persuasion. They take comfort from the fact that they are very educated and can understand complex ideas. Their own intelligence creates their own rigid ways of thinking. They believe whole-heartedly in the liberal capitalist framework but also are not too proud to compromise even on their own values. They take their own version of the moral high ground, by trying to take solace in the idea that they are the adults in the room and are being responsible with government. The fact that the right can both understand the usefullness of state power for their goals and continue to hammer it is seen as  a fundamental contradiction in their view, according to Democrats. But they fail to understand that, for the right, these contradictions are not important. They are not beholden to words and they refuse to let the structures work against them. The Democrats attempt to be bigger people, but it rarely actually does any good for anyone, but it does soothe their egos and make them feel better about being unable to get policy through. The same anger that they expect to be felt by all Americans towards the right’s disgusting tactics is heavily overrated. Even when evidence is against them, they refuse to use their supposed educational background, to actually challenge the right. They refuse to defy the conventional wisdom in the state and it holds them back. They only do this though, because they are not disadvantaged in their personal lives by the state. This combined with their willingness to attack the left and keep them in line, shows that for them, they are more concerned with their own lives and their own high moral principles than actually helping their constituents. This means that neither side has much of a chance of reaching the other. However, this difference in world view is no the end of all possible polite politics. In fact, if the Democrats ever decided to admit to themselves that perhaps, there was a better way to govern, they would win. However, in terms of actual working people, the things that divide us might not be as awful as you might think. The values we hold are dear and I am not making light of my values or the values of my ideological opponents. I am merely saying that this division and use of politics to drive messages, is essential to figuring out solutions. Without both sides colliding with equal zeal, the solution will not appear. This is not to say that the centrists are right about compromise. Some things are, less gray than others. Objective truths are not debatable. But policy solutions can be and they needn’t be about personal attacks. The reason centrists get so angry is that for them, their personal lives outside of office are not actually that bad. For many people, we do not have fufilling lives and so we have more urgency.  Just understanding your opponent’s perspective can help reach people. Don’t assume your opponent’s motives or desires. However, we mustn’t kid ourselves. Sometimes people use deceptive tactics in order to win and the right has been driven to use this as a weapon. They are far less divided then it might seem. Because the left are less able to unite, it is important to recognize and empathize with our own side’s various perspectives. If you can’t empathize you cannot communicate. However, if someone is not able to discuss things without deception such as using straw men and presuppositions, you needn’t be afraid to challenge them on these things. Not all debates can change someone’s mind but the more we talk to one another without deception, the easier it will be to hear challenging ideas. If your life is shit and you are struggling, it isn’t helpful to talk down to them and minimize their situation. Your point of view is not shared with everyone. We should all try harder to be empathetic but we also, on the left, must be willing to fight on and on. The right have the resources to fight forever and we don’t. Which is why we must fight on and use whatever we can to hang in there. We cannot give up and we will lose many a battle. But every change has come from a group of people across generations who refused to be silent. We can continue that proud tradition and the left can win the culture war, but only if we fight on.

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