Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why liberals and conservatives are both blind

Not too long ago I wrote an article titled "America needs a bad guy". In it I discussed division in American society as a reflection of our own internal division projected outward. I was trying to explain how because of our on needs we create villains to give ourselves an out for the internal negativity we cant consciously face. Pretty deep,huh? Well I thought so.

But then I got to thinking about society and the current political climate and it dawned on me: Most politicians just aren't that bright. So why do we continue to villianize anyone who's opinion we can readily identify as different than our own? The answer became so obvious I was almost embarrassed I tried to make it such a deep abstract concept to begin with. Politicians keep the division up for the same reasons politicians do anything: power.

You see I realize that it is in the best interest of politicians to create division so they can win elections. Think about it. Why would someone vote for you if you agreed with the person already holding the job? If they are doing such a good job then why would they need you? You could make the argument that you could improve on what they are doing, but that's a hard sell. You know what is much easier? Saying you are doing a BAD job and I could do better.

People in this country are so focused on their side winning they lose focus on the real objective: solving the problem. I never (and I rarely use the word never) see on here somebody saying with what they agree on, when it come to the opposite side. Just whats wrong. All the things that get hype in the media are such small parts of what is really happening we miss progress.

Take the last two spending bills. In the stimulus plan we spent almost a month talking about the 2% of the bill some governors objected to and not the 98% that most felt was needed.

In the recent budget omnibus bill we are debating 1% of the total bill b/c of earmarks from both parties that were in place before the current administration.

Now the flavor of the month is trying to figure which side is to blame on the few millions of dollars going to executives out of the billions of dollars given to the country that many haven't noticed the good news in the stock market's modest upswing.

My criticisms aren't just with the right. The left is just as bad. Bush was heavily invested in Africa, a good thing. And NCLB (while my wife is a teacher and no fan) was a positive step in the right direction but instead of having a tone of what can we do to fix it. We just called the whole thing garbage and touted Bush a failure in education.

The reason we do it is because politicians know they need division to win an election. How do you get in office if you agree the people there are doing a good job? So the goal becomes find something, anything with which to trash your opponent so we can win the next election.

The problem with belonging to an ideology, be it conservative or liberal, is it becomes infallible like a religion. People tend to view everything through the the lens of that ideology and try to make it fit that specific view. It blinds them to the merits of the other side or even considering if that opposite view has any merit at all. They thunk it so it must be wrong.

I refuse to label myself either way because I enjoy the panoramic view I get from the outside. Makes common sense to me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

America Needs A Bad Guy

One of my favorite movies is The American President, this one of my favorite quotes from the movie:

We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.

I chuckle to myself as I think about the current economic situation and our response to it. I chuckle not because there is much funny with the crisis facing our economy, but rather because it amuses me how much effort is spent at trying to figure out who is the cause, and whose idea won't fix it.

I listened to President Obama talk about his hopes of bipartisanship and the coming together of our country into "one perfect union" . I listened and became optimistic, something very hard for this natural cynic to do. Then reality set it in, what was this going to change?

All day on the news and around the net, I see people more and more divided. Divided along every line I could think of. Race, economic status, political ideology-- any way we can segregate ourselves we do. I began to ask myself why is that? Sorry for going Rodney King on yall with this cliche, but why "Cant we all get along"?

Then it dawned on me, as great revelations do, while responding to a post. We need bad guys. Carl Jung pointed out universal patterns, called archetypes, that he observed in different cultures. Some guy writing about Jung states:

The Shadow is the easiest of the archetypes for most persons to experience. We tend to see it in "others." That is to say, we project our dark side onto others and thus interpret them as "enemies" or as "exotic" presences that fascinate. We see the Shadow everywhere in popular culture. He is Batman. She is Spider Woman. It is the Ninja Turtles. We see it in popular prejudice as well. We "imagine" that the Black Man is our enemy; that Communists are devils. We incline towards Hawaii as the "land of paradise." We accept people uncritically if we perceive them as "Fair Haired." Of course, Satan is the great Shadow image of popular religion (Consider: the word only occurs 54 times in the entire Bible.)

The Shadow is the personification of that part of human, psychic possibility that we deny in ourselves and project onto others. The goal of personality integration is to integrate the rejected, inferior side of our life into our total experience and to take responsibility for it.

To put it simply, for us to see good in ourselves we must find evil in others.

I think the reason we cant move forward as a society is because the system is made to create us the "bad guy" we so desperately need. We pick that bad guy depending on our point of reference based on how we identify ourselves. Since that with which we identify with has to be pure and perfect, we need a place to stick the bad that's left over.

If you see yourself as peace loving, compassionate person, and think that is what is represented by being a liberal then for you the opposite must be a conservative and they must hate peace and compassion. If you see yourself as a responsible moral person and that is what you think is represented by being a conservative then liberals must be irresponsible and hate morality. You can put poor/rich, black/white, tall/short into the equation, but you get the picture.
We seek that with which we best identify, and hate what we see as not being similar

Watching most "news" shows is like Orwells "15min" of hate in 1984 . In the story, the government showed everybody pictures of the enemy for 15 mins everyone booed and jeered and hated the enemy. We watch people like Bill O'Riely, Kieth Olberman, Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs. They tell us who is right and who is wrong. They tell us who to hate and why. The reality is that things aren't so black and white. There is no one true bad guy to point the finger at, only problems. The sooner we realize that the closer we will be to working on fixing them together.

Makes common sense to me.