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Friday · November 05 2004

Half the country is not stupid. We're all stupid

We're convinced several times a day to do things that aren't in our best interests. We work too hard. We're drinking, eating, medicating, and smoking ourselves into early graves. We overextend ourselves on credit. We knowingly stay in emotionally or physically abusive relationships. We let television raise our children. We're deliberately mean and nasty to people we don't like or agree with. We learn science from the Bible. We stay silent when speaking out would help someone. We fear the future. We fear death. And we're lazy about our beliefs and convictions and we let the Democratic and Republican Parties dictate the political agenda in America by pushing our emotional buttons. Red, blue, black, white, brown, yellow, purple, and retina-burning yellow-green…we all share the blame.

I've heard several interviews in the last couple days with surviving Dem politicians. Each one was posed the question: how do you reach out to those who feel so strongly about moral values? The phrases “reach out” and “appeal” bother me because I realized our party system has the cart before the horse.

Small political parties are formed by a group of people who hold similar beliefs and want to push that agenda into law and tradition. The party's platform is organic, dervied directly from the founders and activists of the group. With our two major parties, it's the exact opposite.

The GOP and Democratic parties exist as corporations. Forget the evil and greedy connotations of the word corporation — though you may think those apply to political parties as well — and consider them as businesses with a board of directors, huge advertising budgets, and a performance responsibility to their core investors. The party doesn't represent anything per se; it's values and constituency shift over time, often assuming the logical inverse position of the other major party if it will lead to attracting more customers.

We're not shaping the parties. The parties shape us. Kottke says, “Kerry voters, we need to get over ourselves…we're not special. We're not informed by some superior intelligence that gives us a unique insight into how the world should work. We buy into the Democratic Party/liberal/anti-conservative/fear the church crap in the same way that our “red state” brethren buy into the Rebublican Party/conservative/anti-liberal/fear the gays bullshit.”

I can only speak for myself, but I couldn't agree more.

Archived: Political » November 2004
What you had to say:
November 05 2004

I'm not sure I follow.

I certainly agree that a lot of people voted for whomever they voted for simply because they have a habit of listening to whatever one or the other party says. That's pretty stupid, even if you end up wiht the "right answer." And I totally agree that the parties should be bottom-up arrangement with people thinking for themsevles and coming up with consensus.

But I don't think we're all so easily led. I don't feel like I've merely "bought into" anything. I like to think I try to evaluate everything I hear and read critically, even if it's coming from a source I expect to agree with. Is he suggesting that I am deluded to think that that's how I think?

November 05 2004

I try to think through things critically even when it's from a source I expect to agree with, but I know I'm swayed by what "I'm supposed to think." I absolutely know I do. I'm biased and I look for clues. I don't have opinions on every topic and I often go along with a position because it seems to be in step with the rest. I know I'm not alone on that.

November 05 2004

"You are all individuals"

"We are all individuals!"

(I'm not)

November 05 2004

I don't understand. Explain it to me.

November 05 2004

Life of Brian? Surely you've seen it?

November 05 2004

I have seen it, but it's been awhile. I didn't remember that line.

November 05 2004

You touched on something that's worth expounding on. It seems to me as if gays are the last acceptable group that it's OK to hate in mainstream America, even in spite of more positive representations in our culture (Ellen Degeneres, Rosie O'Donnell, Will & Grace, Six Feet Under, etc). I was hoping that the Republicans' hate-mongering strategy to use gay marriage as a wedge issue would backfire. The fact that measures to ban gay marriage in 11 states all overwhelmingly passed bodes just as bad for this country as a second Bush term. Perhaps Kerry should have just taken a more definitive stand against the homophobes instead of his nuanaced "opposed to gay marriage, but in favor of civil unions" stance. At least he could have more clearly called out Bush and Cheney on their hypocrisy.

Re: Life of Brian. I've never seen this film before but based on its description, it sounds like the perfect antidote to "Passion of the Christ". I'm going to put it on my must-see list.

BTW Jason, I previously posted under "Hell In a Handbasket" the other day - but only for dramatic effect (yah, call me a drama queen if you must). I read your response to Disgusted, so I didn't want you to get the impression that I was trying to abuse your message boards through anonymous posts since you can track IP numbers.

November 05 2004

No worries, John. Because it was right after the other post, I checked to see if it was the same person, and it obviously wasn't. I don't want to be message board cop.

© 2004 Jason Keglovitz