Friday, June 29, 2012

Talking about politics, unpolitically?

I have decided that the biggest problem we have in politics today is self delusion.

There are many self delusions that could be spoken of here- basically we are willing believers in most propaganda techniques.  That person drinks the same beer/ coffee/ soda/ whatever as me?  He/she must have great political ideas, too.  That person drives a different car/ reads a different newspaper/ grew up in different circumstances than me?  His/her political ideas must be horrible.  Someone who is a celebrity has labeled that person as a "hot button" word- whether good or bad- and I ALWAYS believe what celebrities say.  They're famous- they must be smart- why else would they be on or have their own talk shows?  And so on, and so on.

The particular delusion that I'm currently thinking about runs like this...
"I am a sensible, rational person.  Therefore, other sensible, rational people would come to the same conclusions as I do in regards to a particular issue.  Therefore, my stance (along with those who agree with me) must be the sensible, rational one, and thus the one that counts as 'mainstream' or moderate or centrist.  So, those who disagree with me must be on the fringes of thought on this issue, and are likely to also be irrational or misinformed." 
Even when we label ourselves as "conservative" or "liberal"-which you think might clue us in- we somehow still think that our point of view is the middle/ centrist/ moderate one.

I hear this from all corners of political debates.  People on the right accuse those who disagree with them of being socialist/ communist/ Nazis/ Stalin.  People on the left accuse those who disagree with them of being ultra-right wing/fascist reactionaries/ Nazis/ Hitler.

**This is a good time to bring up a rule- whoever calls their opponent a "Nazi" or Hitler first- loses the argument.  I would also like to amend the rule slightly- if you use the words: Nazi/ Hitler/ Stalin/ Communist to describe your opponent or their ideas, you lose.  Unless they actually ARE Hitler or Stalin, of course, in which case you should totally be on a talk show!**

**The historian in me also wants to point out that someone being both a communist and a Nazi at the same time is pretty farfetched.**

So, back to my point.  Somewhere, there is possibly a person whose political ideas put them in the exact middle of political thought in our country.  (Or, if we go with the 1 in a million theory, then there are about 311.6 people who could possibly be in that spot.) 

So, the grand majority of us are NOT in the middle.  We fall somewhere else on the spectrum, whether to right or left.  And that is fine- but we need to realize that.

Democracy as our founding fathers and mothers conceived it to be involved having people of differing viewpoints argue it out until a compromise was reached somewhere in the middle.  **Compromise generally means BOTH sides miss getting exactly what they want.  If one side gets everything they want?  Not a compromise.** 

Just because the solution actually reached is either a little to the "right" or "left" of where our own political viewpoint lies does not mean that the country is either becoming fascist or communist.  It's probably still muddling it's way down the middle of the road/spectrum.  We veer a little right sometimes, and a little left sometimes, but we tend to not go too far in either direction.

**Interesting historical trivia- one of the reasons George Washington was chosen as our first president was that he was one of the moderates for his time.  The other main moderate of that group?  Benjamin Franklin.  Imagine what he would have been like as president.  It makes me giggle- but he's always been my favorite of that group.


  1. This is similar to the idea that everyone thinks themselves to be an above average driver. Mathmatically speaking, that's just not possible!

  2. I like this! Had a similar thought kicking around in my brain, but I don't know enough history to make it as good and full of impact as I'd want. Gee, if only I knew someone... ;-)

    With that, I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! No worries if you're not into such things, but you can get more details on my post if you're so inclined: