With the passing of the recent taxpayer subsidized marketing and sports spectacle (for many of us, football ended in January with the National Championship), the season of traditions which begins around Thanksgiving, that time of year which, with its celebrations and observances inspires us to temporarily set aside our differences, can be said to be truly over.
Our assumed national obsession with politics and identity will soon continue the long and insufferable crescendo of drama that accompanies our never ending campaign cycles.
For those of us who lost friends and suffered anxiety during the last cycle, it might behoove us at this point to take a step back and speculate on the nature of the things which separate us.
For some time now we have struggled to better understand what we perceive to be a false dichotomy that divides almost half of the nation, or at least those of us not too busy making a a living to have time for such concerns. Just what is it that separates us into warring camps of conservative and liberal, democrat and republican?
The loudest and angriest among us follow leaders, and leaders in the vast majority of cases carry a red or a blue banner. Yet government itself, and the business concerns which direct government, seem more apolitical. Once elected, our leaders are political only as far as it is necessary to be reelected, and the vast bureaucracies of federal, state and local governments act as entities unto themselves, with their primary goal being their continued existence.
To put it bluntly, politics is for little people, but since our numbers are overwhelming, we hold if we do not in fact wield a power which is actively sought by business and government alike. Politics is the method by which our power is divided, diluted and controlled.
Political control is achieved by identifying and leveraging the natural divisions which exist between people. By understanding what those divisions are, it might be possible to reduce the amount of manipulation to which we are subjected.
Think of a round of firewood we intend to split. To do so, we look for cracks in the wood and we guide our axe to that “sweet spot.” If we hit it just right, far less effort is needed to split the wood. We are not firewood, but we do have vulnerabilities which are used over and over again. In this limited space we can only address a few of those. We will speak in generalities, and we concede the point that there are many exceptions to each of these. Our intention is not to judge, but to observe.
There are several “sweet spots” where a wedge can easily be driven between democrats and republicans, conservatives and liberals. In our opinion, a sure sign of the path of the wedge can be found in the logical inconsistencies, some might say “hypocrisies” that result from our forced separation.
Generally speaking, conservatives tend to be more religious while liberals tend to be more humanist. Conservatives believe in the higher power of God while liberals trust more to the higher power of collectivism. Both yield individual responsibility, the conservative to a belief system and the liberal to a government.
Observe the many splinters left by the passing of the maul. One of the biggest and sharpest is the issue of abortion, which is kindled every election cycle to the point where it is now a litmus test of political affiliation. The conservative postures as a pro life advocate, but has no problem with capital punishment. The liberal abhors capital punishment, but accepts the termination of life in the womb in a culture which, in its admixture of science and faith cannot agree at which point a human life begins.
The liberal is predictably a defender of the environment. The conservative, when it comes to the environment, has been more of a consumer than a conservator. The conservative would consume the environment to create jobs. The liberal would conserve the environment, but consume the wealth of working people to support the jobless.
Both conservative and liberal allow, and even encourage business and government to go adventuring around the world with our blood and treasure, to meddle unceasingly anywhere that it seems possible to extract wealth. Distracted and content or angry and made fearful by the wedge of politics driven between us, we have allowed death and destruction and debt, and the transfer of vast amounts of wealth into ever smaller numbers of hands.
Throughout history, every time wealth inequality has become extreme, volatility has ensued. Inequality leads invariably to the rise of collectivism and of socialistic forms of government that are doomed to fail. Even capitalism, the core of the American way of life, degrades as free markets are gamed into crony capitalism and oligarchy. In the end, the only proven method of reducing inequality, is disaster.
Every civilization, every philosophy and belief, every form of government and every nation has a shelf life. All human institutions contain the seeds of their own destruction. Human nature dictates that we evolve and devolve in cycles. When we work together, we slow down the turning of the wheel. Conservatives want to preserve what we have accomplished and hold back the tides of change which threaten those gains. Liberals want to use change to improve the general well being. Each side has valid ideas to contribute to the common good. But as long as we allow it, the only people who will prosper are the ones driving the wedge.