I often wonder to myself how people can be so tremendously stupid. Indeed, with open marriage requester Newt Gingrich rebounding in popularity amongst social rightists, Barack Obama’s unique brand of haplessness applauded by the mainstream left, and untold millions believing that the world will end this year, something is very wrong in contemporary America. It is not just one thing, actually, but a plethora of them expanding at a rate too quick to keep up with. Nonetheless, I believe that the lion’s share of our nation’s sociopolitical problems can be boiled down to a single issue: the tendency to treat every debate, discussion, or forum in an absolutist, black-or-white manner.
This is done by those on both sides of the political spectrum, especially during recent years, far more often than not. There can be no middle ground, no room for equal consideration. Either something is right according to a specific set of moral codes, or it is wrong. An individual’s perception of objective truth becomes the ultimate truth for everyone, regardless of their respective personal beliefs. The indisputably present grey area between the extremes of black and white becomes a domain beholden to unthinkable, let alone unmentionable, heresy. Any person daring to go there is not only an apostate, but a heathen deserving of severe punishment.
Hard as this is is to admit, American politics has become a religious entity, though thankfully not yet of a supernaturalistic nature. However, it most certainly is one with strong salvationist overtones. A surprising number of pundits and voters alike expect mere politicians to mend the country’s tearing fabric without ever, under any circumstances, compromising. Considering that politics itself is the art of compromise, this is insanity defined. Insanity is no vice, though, when mass movements, such as the Tea Party and Occupy protests, apply ample doses of emotionalist ointment to the harsh, but necessary burns of reason. The burdensome, but valuable presence of facts is traded for the addictive fool’s gold of populism.
Like other salvationist fundamentalists, the Church of Politics’ members advocate positions that hold no water upon rational consideration. Glaring realities matter not a whit to them, in my opinion, as the inevitable abdication of reason resulting from collectivist psychology renders human intelligence by and large obsolete. When it comes down to it, the path of a follower, a sheep, or a true believer is easy in comparison to the long and rocky, but ultimately far more rewarding, one trudged down by intellectuals and individualists. Hardline religionists of any denomination never know what it is like to truly think for themselves, so how on earth could they be expected to formulate the opinions necessary for positive societal contributions?
Any man or woman who is beholden to an ideology of natural or supernatural forms has a comparative amount of freedom to the typical inmate at Leavenworth. If personal freedom cannot be achieved, then liberty, its political arm, cannot be either. The only way that humanity can actualize its full potential is in an environment dominated by freethinkers who not only champion, but reside and thrive in the grey area of politics. Left and right are only labels; we should learn to judge one another on the basis of his or her actions, not opportunistic rhetoric. We should also wise up about the Church of Politics and the destructive dogma that it has unleashed on America’s public discourse. Combating it will never be so simple as Democratic vs. Republican, or other such nonsense.
To get a solid start, we should look inside ourselves and ask if we, perhaps unknowingly, are dues-paying clergy members. If we are, will any changes be made? Or are we happy functioning as simple pawns on the complex chess board of life?
Whatever it might be, the answer lies within each of us.Powered by Sidelines