I have always felt that political parties were a bunch of bullshit because what they do is they trammel people who might be flexible in regards to certain issues and makes them toe the party line, therefore killing the ability to debate on issues, which to me are the central thing that needs to be handled.
It is true that in the political spectrum you may be more in agreement with a certain way of thinking, but you should be able to judge each issue on its merits, and the parties, if they are to be useful, needs to promote critical thinking, and should celebrate those who provide challenge to the thinking of the group. A group must be capable of evolution in order to survive – at least this is my thinking – but then I believe in the necessity of prescriptive and descriptive grammar, just as I see the value of both representational art and abstract art; I am one of those people that like both the Rolling Stones and The Beatles.
Why? Because I believe that binary viewpoints are divisive and false, and that they are also mostly based on ideas derived from a false equivalence. Are apples or oranges the better fruit? Makes no sense, right? They serve a different purpose. Politics isn’t exactly like that – they market the idea of right and wrong when they are at their most strident, and they like to say there is one definition for something, and that should not be changed, or you have those who see the law as being a fixed thing that is broken and needs to adapt to reflect society. Hmm, maybe it isn’t so different.
The two party system is designed to provide coverage for the opinions of everyone – this is the theory, but in practice, its rigid structure promotes a failure of dialogue. What use is it to have an opinion and be sat in one camp, and to be locked into a system reliant on compromise, and to not be able to freely debate your differences and arrive at a place where you can move forward?
The notion that seems prevalent in the government at the moment is that you can just bully things through the system, and disregard the opinion of those you do not agree with. There is notion that this is “getting things done”, and that the respecting of the process (the democratic process) hamstrings people. The need to point to the failure of the previous administration conveniently forgets that the current party had control of the house and never let anything through. The fact that even with Senate and House majorities it’s hard to get things through is a testament to how well-designed and robust the system is.
The attitude to the media is similar – to render them in effective, and to destroy, rather than to celebrate the fact that we live in a society that allows a different narrative to be unpacked from the events we witness. Or is that what is happening? Might it not be sometimes that appearing to attack and destroy represents playing the game as much as being smooth an easy with them? Being obnoxious guarantees you a story just as much – and then when you come in with a rebuttal to redefine terms the story keeps rolling. Is debate alive though? I don’t know – read through your average thread on any social media and you will get the distinct impression that everyone just wants to get their voice out there and really doesn’t listen to the person they are supposedly debating with.
I think if you deal with people on a person to person it is hard to not think with what should be done to help with that person, and then you build your whole philosophy around helping people. If you start with a large abstract and hope that the benefits will trickle down you are putting all your faith in some kind of philosophical peristalsis as a distribution method. Grassroots – seeing from whence the need for something springs – this is how you learn. Listen to those talking, not to those talking about what the words mean, and you start to see a realer picture. Watch rape victims give testimony – see the weight of numbers, and see the realness of their words and it is hard not to give attention to their pleas. Listen to someone talking about what rape victims always do, or what kind of people they supposedly are, and you might be satisfied that this abstract expert opinion does a job that suffices for digging in and really understanding, but switch it for engagement with personal truths and reassess that position.
So much money is thrown at controlling the narrative, and like the last race to the White House, the debate disintegrates into a two party showdown where one learns nothing – either about the candidates, the party positions, or what the future might hold in a world where either holds sway.
I care little for what a person can parrot from their party’s manifesto – it is much more useful to see where they stand on certain issues, and any failure to zero in on this, and to enable debate of such subjects, is a failure in shoring up the most important factors in determining how the political machine moves forward.
One of the things I like about British Politics is that there are spending caps. The degree of slickness seems to be less, and it is not that there is off necessity more honesty, but it is a bit more warts and all. Of course, New Labour heralded the influx of spin doctors, and we got our media Prime Minister, but the strange distortion of private interests and the lobbyists is not so nicely meshed as it is in America. Of course, you have your Quangos; you have your elites and your push to public private partnerships as a Trojan Horses for selling of things that actually belong to the people.
Is the system held in a deadlock? Is it just that two parties are supposed to be diametrically opposed and sometimes forget their service to the people in favour of pushing the bipartisan line? To say we work with what we have is kind of like arguing in favour of carrying on with the broken limb you received two years back. Smaller government? Maybe just different government. There is a lot confusion – proportional representation in a place that isn’t exactly a democracy with just as much corruption as everywhere else trying to export democracy, which is of course a very noble intention, but is definitely affected by the baggage.
The American project is great, and the promise has never dulled, even now, when you see people representing it that are perhaps not its best ambassadors. Are we in the same place now, though? Do we adhere to the intentions of the founding fathers? Does The Patriot Act allow for that? Does The Military Commissions Act allow for that? Does all the accrued crap around the current administration allow for that? No, we aren’t really in the same place – but that document is more robust than any of these blips in the country’s history, who trade in the worth of that document for self-serving reasons.
How do you earn the right to talk about it? I think America was built with bricks that enshrine that right. There is a lot to love about this place. I made my home here. But politics, becoming increasingly difficult to have a sane conversation about, is something you have to have a conversation about.