During the presidential campaign in 2008 I was deployed in Kyrgyzstan. While there, I spent a lot of time playing chess and talking about music with a devout Catholic guy, who is likely a genius, at least when it comes to math. It was an odd pairing as far as friendships go for certain, but that happens in deployed locations. Everyone is outside of their comfort zone, so you make the best of things, and sometimes you find really cool people unexpectedly. That was us. One day we were debating politics and he stated all the things he agreed with Barack Obama on, then stated he’s voting for John McCain. I asked why, and his response was “Obama is pro abortion” which is a mischaracterization of pro-choice, and likely among the dumbest descriptions of pro-choice out there. Mini rant aside, this otherwise genius level guy based his voting decision on something that has no bearing on him personally, at all. The weird part is, after Barack Obama won, he said the right guy won, but he just couldn’t personally vote for him, and that’s why he primarily votes Republican.
Not Quite Right
Our political system is messed up because our political parties are messed up. We have gotten to a point where neither side admits fault when they’re wrong, they always shift blame and spin narratives in their favor. I think I’ve said I’m not a fan of politics before, but this is a bit different. I expect politicians to be what they are and do whatever it is they can get away with to obtain and maintain political power. The thing is, they are playing to an audience and sometimes it’s hard to tell which side is doing the influencing. Are politicians playing to the lowest common denominator or are the constituents influencing ridiculous views for the politicians to pursue and fail at?
What’s in a label
On the political spectrum I would be considered left of center. I don’t fully buy into the rhetoric of any political party. I think most politicians are self-serving, and I look at the political theater as WWE gamesmanship. This in mind, I prefer performers that aren’t constantly spewing out mindless, morally bankrupt rhetoric in their stump speeches. I can reasonably get along with people that hover around the center whether it’s left or right. The further left or right one is, the less I’m able to deal because I feel the hard left or right conversation is either unrealistic or jam packed with bigotry respectively. Now that you have an idea of where I stand, we can get into my opinions about these parties.
Strictly looking at these parties like gangs, the Democrats have a pretty spotty record going all the way back. Of course, long ago, the Democratic party was all in on slavery, and every other hyper conservative view one could think of. Woodrow Wilson, one of my least favorite human beings, was a Democrat, but so was FDR, JFK, and Barack Obama. Amazingly enough, FDR was probably the most progressive of that trio respective to their eras. I don’t know the exact moment the platform of hate and bigotry was dropped from typical Democrats, but it was probably in the late 70’s early 80’s. That’s not to say democrats are incapable of being racists, they absolutely can be, and sometimes express that they are.
Republicans have an equally spotty record. You have Abe Lincoln, the very first Republican President known for freeing slaves (on paper) in an effort to save the Union, not because he considered it the right thing to do. They also have Ulysses S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, and the last one that was worth a damn, Dwight Eisenhower. Motives aside, these guys did some good things for the country. The late 60’s and early 70’s saw Richard Nixon ending the gentleman’s racism the Republicans were known for at the time. Gerald Ford was pretty much tofu as far as Republicans go, but Ronald Reagan brought in this candy coated racism that seems to rule the party now. The candy coating being certain topics (guns, abortion, law and order) thinly coating the hateful rhetoric.
Well, seeing as none of them have made it far enough to really put a dent on politics, this is the group of people like me, that fall closer to the middle. I truly believe Independents make up the bulk of the country, but America is about power, and unfortunately, independent sounds like fence straddling, and there’s nothing powerful about straddling a fence, literally or metaphorically speaking. Honestly, this region of the political spectrum is where the common sense lies. Common sense is harder to sell and it’s not very sexy.
In this hyper polarized American landscape, people seem to identify with their political vote more than their religion. I have seen more anti-Joe Biden stuff than I have seen pro religion stuff recently. I’m not religious at all, so this doesn’t bother me, but the people that post it claim to be. I can’t even imagine spending that much energy hating someone that didn’t directly do something to harm me or my family. The amount of hate Trump received was pretty crazy too…even though he was incapable of telling the truth or speaking coherently, he probably didn’t deserve as much hate as he received, given people still had everyday lives to tend to.
The reality is, when things aren’t right, humans tend to over adjust to correct it. That’s where we are now. People are hurting financially, and the social landscape is a bit off as well so the middle ground where the not so sexy, common sense is, is like the dance floor in a party filled with shy folks, vacant. People are rushing to the fringes of the left and right as a means of balancing it out, but the result is instability. In essence, the U.S. picked up a 50 pound bag of bullshit in its right hand, and to balance that, picked up a 50 pound bag of fertilizer in the left, the end result won’t be stability though…we’ll just be knee deep in shit.
Well Who Is Right?
Honestly, neither side is right in this battle of opinions masquerading as facts. Politics can be viewed as marketing, and if nothing else, marketing can turn something that is clearly bad for you, into “health tonic” much like Coke and Pepsi. How fitting that these two brands are also recognized by their red and blue labels. You can swear up and down one is better than the other, really you are just swearing that one appeals to your taste more than the other. Objectively, they’re both filled with sugar and/or artificial sweeteners that will do more harm than good to your body. They’re both hyper focused on using your money for talking bad about the other side, patting their own backs all for the sake of getting more of your money. Sounds just like those politicians to me.
I’m not here to say which side is better, or promote either side in this post. I actually hate the non-stop mudslinging and self aggrandizement that makes up politics on both sides. Sure, I prefer my rhetoric a certain way, but I’d absolutely be happy with honesty, sincerity and beneficial ideas. Regardless of which side you sit on, or straddle I guess, you deserve better than what you’re getting. So much like the vacant dance floor from about 3 or 4 analogies ago, the party won’t be worth a damn until the wallflowers meet in the middle.