The more people I encounter, the more it seems the difference between the political poles is a social construction. Aside from the prominent examples of ideological contradictions (Liberal Racists, Conservative Welfare Cheats, etc., and everyone knows at least one), there are some very real reasons that people seem to adhere to beliefs, act upon impulses and support policies that may do them harm in the long run.
We are manipulated, especially the bottom third of the economic scale, into believing we belong with those in power but are being sold an ideological package labeled “Liberal” or “Conservative” and anything that falls outside those preconceived broad definitions is filtered out of choice.
There are some hot-button issues that are determined by our closer communities. If you are White and rural, you are more likely to feel X, or Urban Black and Gay, Y, but after that, I’m always surprised at the level of nuance people show when they have discussions with people with opposing views who are willing to engage them. Being able to have conversations between my fiscally conservative friends about a topic like gun control is a whole lot easier than being able to talk about the subject with a rural hunter, but not impossible. Speaking to a Melinneal liberal arts college kid about not understanding the new gender definitions or why “safe spaces” exist is a hell of a lot harder than discussing it with a moderate, but older LGBTQ ally who is still in the process of understanding all of the above him/her/themselves.
As a friend of mine recently said “I don’t talk about politics on social media anymore, It’s all a matter of where you come from and how you see it” truer words…. But we need to have those conversations, preferably face to face, in each others presence without our “Hi I’m a Liberal” or “Hello I’m a Conservative” stickers attached.
There is no doubt that we are what we are primarily because of where we grew up and what we were surrounded by.
There are other factors,
But, I’d say, mostly you have to be exposed to new people, and new ideas to at least know they aren’t the monsters you have running around in your head.
Even if Conservative, Libertarian, and Liberal brains are “different” don’t we all need each other’s perspective to live with each other?
I think that even when we come up against issues that we are steadfast on, especially so in some cases, we need to listen harder and assume less.
I think its the only way we’ll ever possibly learn to live together. Our existence as a species depends on it.
Consider for a second a painful problem. It could be personal, professional, political… Whatever it is though, it causes you some mental or physical anguish. It could occupy your thoughts or take away precious hours of sleep. It could be one issue, one hundred separate ones or a host of interlocking things. It could be something that to outsiders means little to nothing, but to you and your internal struggles, it means the world.
Consider a different perspective.
I realize sometimes I get so wrapped up in myself and my goings-on that I forget to consider the feelings of others. There are other times which I just don’t care and feel entitled to just my own and wonder if anyone really and truly gives a shit about me and how I feel.
Politically, ethically, emotionally, socially, it all comes down to trying hard to phase shift when we get caught somewhere between these poles. To try and pull back from being too empathetic or too entitled to our own little worlds.
Sometimes, on some days I feel like a huge dick for just wanting some peace and quiet. Some days I feel like an entitled brat for wanting someone else to simply be understanding and do something selfless for my sake. Some days I want to be the random actor of kindness and on some days I want to be the one acted upon.
Regardless of whether it is deserved or not.
This comes up because someone did me a huge solid a few months ago, and I’m only finding out about it today. Someone who has my back in a way that I recently dismissed, someone who I havent seen in years yet I’ve ben told is constantly praying for me. Someone who I gave a gift and then took that gift from and never said a proper thank you.
That person isn’t reading this, I can guarantee it. Regardless, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being to me, more the way I envision myself than I ever truly was.
Thank you for being an example and an inspiration.
Maybe I’ll just tell him and send him here.
Its the least I can do.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that we are losing our democracy of voices and opinions. Just as we seemed on the verge of becoming the ideal that we’d believed ourselves to be as Americans, that model was obliterated. At this point it doesn’t matter who shot first, or why, but the decreasing number of us in the no mans land between the constructions of “the left” and “the right” regardless of how we lean, is troubling for democracy, and for the very survival of our country.
Tyranny doesn’t only come from the right.
I make no bones about how I lean; I make no apologies for my liberal cultural background and my progressive politics. I also do not wear that label as a bulwark against letting opposing ideas sink in, mixing with my own and changing me. This approach is my definition of what being Liberal means, being open to ideas, allowing them to mesh with my experience and trying to understand what lessons shape others. It’s a word that’s been twisted to mean inflexible and turned into an epithet, so much so that I go back and forth on whether I should call myself one anymore.
My definition of self is mine and mine alone. I know what the word means to me and also know that some of the other words I call myself are only shorthand for the complexities that I keep in those boxes. Like anything, I think we get so wrapped up in the labels and the shorthand that we forget what the words mean.
It’s not always easy to hear through our filters, its never comfortable to be challenged, especially when that challenge comes from someone who you’ve already built a persona around. But those problems are often the most powerful. Coming to grips with the fact that someone who comes from an entirely different background or had a very different experience in their life than you’ve had in yours yet you are still able to connect in a meaningful way is one of the most gratifying experiences you can have.
That is part of the reason it makes me so angry to see people put up walls, especially those who label themselves with monikers that define them as just the opposite. I spoke here about the Yale nonsense that happened a few years ago, and there have been numerous other newsworthy incidents, mainly on college campuses, that reflect an unwillingness to be self-reflective in the face of opposing viewpoints. The Milo incident at Berkeley or the Charles Murray incident at Middlebury college in Vermont are two big ones that spring to mind. While I find Yiannopoulous a repugnant, showboating, self-promoting buffoon, I also found it ironic that the protestors, who became violently agitated over this clown, didn’t understand the legacy they were trampling on at that institution. Murray is also a cultural accelerant, but a more thoughtful and one who has been maligned in a way that makes me sad for the state of academic and cultural discourse.
When I look across the Millennial landscape and see the hairs-on-end sensitivity, the jumping at shadows and accusations, real or imagined, of triggered talk by folks who just haven’t caught up yet, it terrifies me to think that they will be the ones making some of the harder decisions about what speech will be allowed and what will be censored by shout down.
I’m so incredibly sick and tired of people being so offended by what they think they hear that they’ve become the monsters they, without a shred of irony, finger-point to daily. Sick of the fucking crybaby, triggered nonsense, sick of the proliferation of safe spaces as places NOT to be confronted on your bullshit instead of real and genuine refuges from psyche destroying trauma. Let me make this clear; there is shit in this world that is so horrible, so psychically damaging, so mind-fuckingly severe, that it requires years of intense therapy to get over. Let me also make this clear, about 10% or which happens here in the United States, and about 5% is genuinely worth isolation from.
At this point a clear distinction has to be made, we all experience trauma, and unless we talk about it respectfully we never really know how difficult another’s existence is. BUT what is also true is that we’ve created a culture that condenses each of our experiences into little nuggets that cling like leeches to the identities we create for ourselves. In no way do I discount anyone’s stories of abuse, be they sexual, psychological or emotional, but when we are so deeply wrapped up in our traumas that we can’t see what someone else has gone through, see our universal personhood, we put another nail in the coffin of this grand experiment.
When we don’t dispense with our hegemonies of our experiences over other’s, when we refuse to listen, to hear what others bring to the table however flawed it might be, we lose a bit of that connectivity to each other. When we start pulling outward into the human instead of backward into an identity, into white, male, female, cis, gay, trans, straight and queer, we remember our sameness isn’t opposed to our uniqueness. When we stop the ridiculously insane push to be right all the time and be wrong at least some of the time, we gain it back.
We’ve all gotten too sensitive in all the wrong ways, instead of being sympathetic to how others may feel (which requires asking them exactly how they think and why) we hold way too tightly to our identity constructs.
I’m calling out so-called Liberals an Progressives on this as well as gender rights activists, queer theorists, and feminists, mainly because I feel allied or am a part of those loose identifications. I’ve called out the prevailing myth of white supremacy as a historical fact, women’s struggles as history and the benefits that come with being of a privileged class. My bonafides are there.
Yes, I find it amazingly ironic and annoying when ego-driven when people like Ann Coulter decry Liberal Fascism, when members of the alt-right claim their free speech is being violated, and when self-promoting attention whores like Milo Yiannopoulous and Mike Chernovich point out the hypocrisy of the left.
It’s annoying and ironic, but also, sadly, right.
It all comes down to money, doesn’t it?
Money coupled with power. Power over people via “ideas” that have more in common with emotional revulsion than logic. This is what we are now.
Steve Bannon was at the left hand of the seat of power; he was the co-pilot of the administration, arguably the primary architect of the Trump victory. You’d have to be utterly blind, delusional, Stockholm Syndrome-addled or just uncaring not to see this. The nearly transparent lie that there was no collusion on the part of Bannon’s appeals to race resentment and the violence that often erupted at Trump rallies doesn’t need calling out, it is there, in plain sight, for all to see.
Nor does the connections to the Alt-Right, real Nazis, and other assorted white supremacists, they too, are plain. Through the denials (what common criminal ever said, “Yeah, I did it, that was me” when being cornered by the cops?) the obstrufications and every logical event to the contrary, Bannon, Breitbart and its network of ideologues and hangers-on continue to play a role in the conversation or at least continue to keep the discussion about them, bolstering the profiles of both the wave riders and the hard idealogues.
There is no such thing as bad press.
So why are we still playing this game?
Why are we still under the delusion that we are living under anything but a proto-fascist state, a state that combines the worst elements of our cold war and second world war enemies. We now represent the things we have purportedly fought against for most of the 20th century. It’s no longer about left and right ideologies because both would be crushed under the weight of the oligarchy. When there isn’t freedom for anyone, ideology is moot.
It is a cold hard fact that for all of the history of the United States we have been awash in white supremacy. Its taken many forms as the idea of whiteness have been adopted by various Europeans and those of European descent. It isn’t unique to this nation, but the brand of white superiority and supremacy is. We are unique in the fact that we’ve inhabited a Janus-like guise, out of one face we say we are pluralistic and generous, the huddled masses are welcome to come and add their uniqueness to our own and to our collective culture, on the other we are xenophobic, racist and fearful of difference although demonstrably, once we know each other personally those elements diminish.
We also claim to value our collective contributions to our society. We claim to not see race or sex and that the value we place on our fair values is absolute. Even on our political left, there is this illusion, the corridors of power in our entertainment are littered with the desiccated bodies of the women who know better. Liberal Hollywood is awash in its form of hypocrisy. Weinstein, Cosby, and Baldwin, either get a pass or use their considerable power as men to create false personas that defy their goodness while hiding their toxic badness.
At the risk of sounding SWJish, White Male Superiority in general. Yes, even Cosby.
Masculinity is at least a convening force in all this. I’ve spoken before about how this mirror universe came to pass, how the power structure that was had been challenged by an educated, non-white man, and then an educated (albeit universally unlikeable) white woman and the resulting pushback gave us a starring role in the Truman shitshow we live in now. How the years of ingrained, assumed norms of power and who was inherently qualified to wield it, unraveled while Rural White Male America slept soundly in their beds, secure in the fact that their hegemony wouldn’t be undone by a one-term Nigger president.
See how that happened?
We didn’t elect a white knight, we chose the anti-Nigger, the crass boldness embodiment of everything we would have lynched Obama for, and some things lesser, that we tried to. Trump’s money, his conspicuous consumptive nature on full display in House Horrific gold inlay pimp my penthouse bling, his pussy grabbing dullard braggadocio, his obviously ignorant grasp of policy and its implications, all of it punishable by death for any nonwhite who isn’t signed to Bad Boy or in the NBA. Trump is gangsta personified.
Must be the money…
Its been a long, long few months….
I’m not fond of the Obama as savior aspect of this, but it does feel remarkably prescient. Post-presidential second acts in this day and age are often as or more potent than their presidencies.
We are in a mirror universe version of our own.
With increasing regularity, I wake up in a world I do not recognize. Call it getting older (I just hit the ½ century mark, yay!) or some generational time shift, but something seems…off.
Life, in all its greatness (and there is a lot of just fucking great right now), has its fair share of weirdness and sadness. By my own doing, I’ve isolated myself from some people, insulated myself from their anger and confusion and backed away from the accusatory finger-pointing that I have instigated. In doing so, I have created a world for myself that holds immense pleasure and tranquility as well as an occasional little turbulence. On a small-scale, I can handle that. The world inside and outside has gotten weirder and more beautiful, in equal measure.
If there is one single immutable law of the universe (aside from “nature abhors a vacuum”) it is that nature seeks balance, the universe seeks balance. It may be hard to see because our lifetimes are but small micro-moments to the universe and our perception of that time makes universal blinks seem glacial, but this swift passage of moments is nothing. The world is indifferent to our plights; it could give a rats ass about us and would continue to spin without us. To it, we are utterly meaningless.
We are our gods, imperfect and petty, just like the one(s) we’ve made up. To varying degrees, needing the occasional blood sacrifice to keep our anger at bay. We must create meaning from what we see and do, even if it’s a fart in the wind to the greater part of the “everything else.” We must assign our lives meaning to live out whatever small cosmic purpose we have. It may just be the universe saying “I wonder what would happen if I bent this way, or the equivalent of us pulling wings off flies, legs off grasshoppers and burning ants, just to see what happens. Maybe all the strife, the war and the threat of annihilation is just the universes attempt at cat/cow.
This universe, this version of the multiverse though, from this ant’s perspective, is well and truly fucked up. Is it balancing to have, in rapid succession the embodiment of a calming balm on humanity followed by a raging, scab tearing, bitter man-baby? Is it possible that this course correction is a live act cautionary tale of what happens when we neglect to properly note our human progress and revert to animatistic tribes?
I kind of wonder if other people are feeling this too. Are we who are in one respect so insignificant, affected by the higher universes volatility? Are not the smallest of cells a part of the functioning of the more substantial whole? If the universe flexes, don’t we bend, just a little?
Hindsight is a bitch, but it’s also only 20/20 through our eyes. There is, there are things that happen, without question, in this world that are absolute. I’m not talking about the reasons things happen, just the things themselves, the action or event. The slight wave of angst flowing through the world has to be the result of something else, some tiny tear in time/space or a 1000-foot butterfly on some distant exoplanet drying out its new wings. Some reason the world is vibrating like the distorted image of a summer mirage. Some fucking reason this beautiful life is sometimes simultaneously so fucking ugly.
I guess this is why we have gods because not having them makes these questions way too hard to answer or in some cases, to even live with.
We, like nature, abhor vacuums.