Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Power of Zero

I've been chewing on this idea for awhile. I first noticed it last year. That is, I noticed it from a new perspective; this idea of Partisan Politics. A few weeks back I went to my girlfriend's parents house for Christmas. I was forced to promise, in advance, not to discuss politics while we were there because she rightly knew that it would never end. I love to debate politics, but many people these days are downright hostile and it's made political discourse a risky conversational topic.

I tend to have some 'progressive' or 'liberal' views on things overall, but I also have some opinions that could be called conservative. However, I've never been either a registered Republican or Democrat. I've voted often and enthusiastically, but getting on board with a specific party always seemed limiting to me.

Over the last year though, it seems that being on 'one side or the other' is no longer just a description of our political landscape, but a problem in itself. The oh-so-obvious truth is that very few things in life have only two sides. Putting things in a liberal/conservative, Republican/Democrat, Left/Right scheme doesn't elucidate issues, it dumbs them down. It makes the all important details too fuzzy to spot.

Then today, I came across this article on Slate: http://www.slate.com/id/2282306 Of course, it made perfect sense to me. Political parties are just another 'us or them' opportunity.

But when you really break it down, when is the last time a political party did anything for anyone? Have you ever received a call from a Democratic candidate who said, 'Thanks for your vote, I'd like to take you to dinner'? Has a Republican ever called you and said 'As a fellow Republican, I'd like you to come golfing with me'? For that matter have they ever invited you to any strategy meetings, asked your opinion on pending bills or offered you any voice in how your parties funds are spent? I'm sure some within the 'party elite' get those things, but doesn't it bother you that your party has an elite?

Yet, after religious affiliation, political party ties are some of the most prominently displayed identifiers in our culture. Imagine what a newscast would sound like if they left out partisan terminology. There would just be names of representatives and their opinions on topics. Suddenly it's harder to hate them. You might disagree with their stance, but five minutes later you might cheering them on for a different vote. Even when it comes to people who are registered in neither party, there's a strong push to label them as Independent with a capital "I", as though they were a third party.

Along with major election reform in this country, I think one of the best things we could do would be to dismantle the corrupt, glad-handing, divisive, nasty, outdated, parasitic party system in this country. I'm not sure how to go about that. All I know is, I want to vote for a candidate, not a 'party' that does nothing but profit from the lowest of our societial tendencies.

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