Sunday, August 12, 2007

Primitive Politics

It seems that America is transfixed in a polarized state. We no longer know what "liberal" and "conservative" mean. They certainly no longer mean what they did ten years ago, considering that a so-called conservative administration has just run up the greatest deficit in history and waged two wars on borrowed money, and the previous so-called liberal administration severed millions from the public dole and opened our borders to job plundering by global corporations. But no matter. Whatever liberal and conservative mean, even if they are opposite of what we think they mean, we're certain that one or the other are nefarious and a threat to the republic.

We have fallen into a primitive state, a tribal mentality in which "we" are the good guys and the "others" are the bad guys. It matters not one whit if the reasons we are good and they are bad change regularly or even reverse from time to time. The fact is that since we are "we," and they are "they," then "we" will always be "good" and "they" will be "bad." Bad being worthless hateful scum deserving of all manner of terrible consequences just for being alive. If they are far enough away, we can even kill them, celebrating our righteousness as we do so. If they are too close to home, then we limit ourselves to undermining and discrediting them.

We need to be careful though. The constant demonization of your neighbor is a toxic seed that can bear frightful consequences. Before this downward cycle of polarization is done, I would not be surprised to see political violence in America. It would be far better for all of us if we realized that we have been duped by demagogues, reject the whole business of political polarization and look to the principles of unity to guide us.

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