Turn and Face the Strain
There was a time when I thought I had reached the pinnacle of my personal growth. Oddly, this moment lives side by side with some of the most insecure times of my adult life (another topic for another day). I had experienced what I called my “boo, America” moment, when everything my country did, had done, would do, carried with it some sinister motive. Completely convinced of my opinion, I looked at every historical event and threw up my “boo, America” filter. My political development began with me situated comfortably on the American liberal left, voting for Bill Clinton, twice. I am still completely comfortable with that decision. My disillusionment with America had everything to do with learning more about it (from certain, biased sources. Every source is biased), being outraged by its motivations, its lack of compassion, its outright deception and cruelty. Every malevolent dictator supported, government overthrown, ridiculous conflict, furthered my distrust.
America’s unwillingness to acknowledge its own flaws, faults and mistakes still rubs me wrong. More often than I am comfortable with, my country misjudges situations, makes choices that have deadly consequences years down the road (easy examples-Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, all places where better diplomacy years previous would have avoided much loss of life and conflict).
This said, I have grown up some. I love most of what America is and what it could be, and there is the real problem. What I think America should be is not what a majority of the citizens want. What I believe is best, some would find dangerous. The beauty of America is-that kind of thinking is just fine. I don’t have to agree with anyone idea or person and they have to agree with me. My right to disagree is as important as any, maybe more. I get to hold any misguided, unsupported belief or factually supported opinion I wish.
As long as I take responsibility for it, I get to say whatever I want. Pretty cool, right?
What I think–
Americans are rarely on the extreme ends of the political spectrum. Most of us hold viewpoints that cross from left to right and down the middle. We overlaps and contradict ourselves. Our views shift, change grow and digress. There are of course, people who insist they reside all the way right or left and I am not going to insist differently. I will say, that kind of thinking frightens me. It holds little room for discourse and conversation or collaborative progress.
I feel there is little difference between the two major political parties. Republicans and Democrats reside in nearly the same position. They both play for the same team. The agendas are pretense. The difference is rhetoric-One party promises to help the “middle class” and stick it to those dirty rich folks. The other promises that if you work hard, let the rich be a bit richer, you just might get to play with the big boys. Result- Those that have, continue to have. People who agree with the current ruling party get to pretend they are making a difference. The power dynamic is static. Wealth is paramount.
As long as the political world is controlled entirely by money, the wealthy will always make the rules, pick the candidates, control the direction of the country and the world. Elections offer the illusion of choice and most of the time, we all buy into it.
I bought into it…I most likely will again. It comes from an honest desire, an expectation of the best. Words are powerful and when said in a certain order, particular ways, they influence. We grasp on to what we like to hear. I feel it every time I watch a political convention. I get frustrated at what I don’t like in one group, while absorbing and devouring what I do agree with in the other.
From that, I realize a few things. Good and evil should never be at the core of political discourse. Right and wrong fall outside that dichotomy. Once the argument dissolves to a battle of who is good, people stop listening, things become about emotion and that rarely results in anything positive. No one idea is the best choice in every situation. No one group has all the answers. I am equally distrustful of those who put total faith in government and those who hold up business as the paragon of virtue.
I am willing to accept my naivety in thinking a combination of the two is best. Less willing to listen to someone rant about it.