Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Questions Behind the Issues.

The more I talk to people of different political bents, the more I realize that the entire political dialog in this country is radically stilted. I'm not saying that folks understand how indirect their communication is, but rather that they inadvertently avoid any discussion of the underlying reasons for their beliefs. There is an entire substratum of assumptions that goes unacknowledged. I believe the reason for this is media manipulation. Our corporate "news" purveyors would much rather reinforce the wedge issues that keep our citizenry divided. These are "safe" subjects because there is a tacit agreement among all parties that they regard issues that will never be resolved. They keep everyone distracted.

I've noted a few examples of this in earlier posts. Republicans and Democrats fight over issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and drilling in ANWR. The intention is to keep things as they are, in order to prevent any real challenges to the status quo. If the power brokers can keep us focused on issues of very little significance to them, then they can continue business-as-usual. Naturally that benefits those currently at the top of the heap. And don't get me wrong- 95% of us would act the same exact way if given the chance. Examine your own personal life... if things are going well, do you feel motivated to allow changes that would shake up your life? I can say that I feel no such compulsion.

Now then, if you don't like the way things are going, then you really have your work cut out for you. You have to cut through all of the bullshit just to communicate frankly with your fellow (wo)man. I'll give you an illustrative example using an aforementioned wedge issue- abortion. Say for argument's sake that you are against abortion. Why? Is it because your priest told you it was a sin? Do you believe that fetuses count as humans? And how does that affect your position on this issue? I think there's a deeper core to this question. It goes beyond queries of sin and soul. The elemental foundation of this political distraction is the belief that there is something inherently special about the species.

If you don't think that humans are "special" or "sacred", then why would you consider abortion wrong? Maybe you are of a religious faith that values all creatures equally. If that's the case, then forgive me, because you have a valid philosophical basis for your opinion. But likely you have formed your thoughts about abortion based upon the Christian principle that humans are meant to exercise their dominion over God's creation. And that somehow leads you to believe that a single human life is invaluable. The rational extension of this type of localized compassion should lead you to oppose the death penalty, war, and policies that privilege one segment of humanity over another. Be honest with yourself. Are you being consistent in your views, or are you a hypocrite like the rest of us?

Do you honestly believe that those who profess to oppose abortion are confronting the underlying premises of their positions? Or are they simply using this emotional issue for expediency and exploitation. I'd like to hear them say instead that all humanity is sacred. Because then we could really assess the integrity of their character. We could hold these coyotes responsible for their decisions. I understand that governance involves complexity and nuance, but I have no sympathy when a politician misleads the flock into thinking that he/she is the "Good Shepherd". I'll gladly embrace the flaws of a human being as long as he/she acknowledges them in him/herself. But the old smoke-and-mirrors trick has made me irredeemably cynical, and I would guess that a lot of others in this nation feel the same way.

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