I’ve never made a secret of my political views; I tend to lean left. Honestly, I don’t think my beliefs are that radical but, compared to what serves as the other end of the spectrum these days, admitting to some Conservatives that you have handful of liberal views is like announcing that you once opened a fair trade wind farm and abortion clinic with Che Guevara and Jane Fonda.
I do have several Conservative friends. We do our best not to talk politics but, in Wisconsin in 2012, politics is not just the elephant in the room, it’s the elephant in the room making out in the corner with a cheetah that also happens to be in the room.
I’m sure that my facts are just as frustrating to them as theirs are to me. And, while we don’t admit it, these “facts” are usually half-truths and opinions filtered through our perspective echo chambers. The “facts” are then disseminated by celebrity pundits with their own axes to grind.
I don’t think my Conservative friends are stupid; just like I don’t think French people are stupid for speaking French and not English like me. Nevertheless, I’m fairly certain that certain Conservatives just got offended and no longer trust anything I have to say because I mentioned French people.
I’ve been thinking about why then, if everyone involved is carbon-based and somewhat reasonable, are the debates are so maddening and unproductive? I have a theory that I’d like to put out there (I am, after all, paying good money for the web hosting), and hopefully it won’t be immediately kicked and beaten to death by our collective umbrage.
It has to do with a kind of ideological language barrier. You see, when I think about my longest, loudest, and, ultimately, most pointless arguments, they all have one thing in common: “You just don’t get it!” or “You refuse to listen!” I think political debates have become loud and pointless for the very same reason.
And it’s all about the game that is America, and the best way to “win.” The game is rigged for sure; we can all agree on that, and the rules to the game are constantly being made up and amended by those who are already winning and would like to keep it that way, thank you very much.
As it pertains to this game, my Conservative friends are playing it exactly how it should be played. They play by the book and by the rules set before them because it is the honorable thing to do. Besides, it is the only way to “win” according to the bylaws written by the current “winners.” It makes perfect, empirical sense, and it is the power plant for 99% of the Conservative argument.
The fact is that, yes, according to the rules of the game, Conservatives are absolutely correct in their assessment of America. Even the Conservatives making $21,000 a year are correct (despite the fact that they’re a long way from standing in America’s “winner’s” circle). However, and this is what all of the fuss is about, Liberals want a different game. Liberals don’t care for this game and its convoluted, lop-sided rules and, frankly, think that those writing the rules do not have our best interests in mind.
I think this is the reason we shout past each other instead of communicating. One side is red in the face arguing the rules of chess, and the other side is apoplectic because they want to play Quidditch. “You just don’t get it!” “You refuse to listen!”
Now I’m not suggesting that we all circle up, give each other shoulder massages, and sing Kumbaya. By all means, we should continue to yell at each other, but keep in mind that you might be yelling in different languages. And volume does little to promote comprehension.
I’m not sure what to do with this idea, or even if it will change the tone of the discourse, but if, for instance, your neighbor has a different yard sign than you, and the elephant in the room has now gotten to second base with the cheetah, maybe this theory can help mend the fences somewhat. Or maybe not. Probably not. I don’t know.
I’m sorry; I can’t stop watching this elephant…