Wednesday, October 2, 2013

We Are All the Problem

In real life, I fraternize almost exclusively with Republicans. They know how to do amazing things like drive very large vehicles and build houses by themselves. They also share their views loudly and freely, confident in the assumption that they're surrounded by like-minded peers (or that, if they're not, the other side is comprised of Satan's spawn, so who cares what they think?). They rabidly defame Obamacare, conveniently ignoring the market inefficiencies it corrects, and spew vitriol about the president and anyone else who happens to disagree with them.

Online, I fraternize almost exclusively with Democrats. They know how to do amazing things like land invites to swanky cocktail parties and organize relief efforts for shooting victims. They also share their views loudly and freely, confident in the assumption that they're surrounded by like-minded peers (or that, if they're not, the other side is comprised of idiots--honestly, their average IQ can't be much higher than 100--so who cares what they think?). They rabidly defend the Affordable Care Act, conveniently ignoring the long-term problems it creates, and sling pithy one-liners at the religious right and anyone else who happens to disagree with them.

Is it any wonder that our legislators, the vast majority of whom will shortly be campaigning for these people's votes, can't stand to look at one another, much less work together?

For the record, I'm a registered Republican, though I identify with that party less and less every day. I guess I'm more of a centrist, willing to give up ground on most issues so I can stand firm on the ones I really care about. As a result, I usually end up playing devil's advocate loudly and freely (which, I'm afraid, makes me just as guilty of the overzealous rhetoric I've been decrying in this post).

The truth is, we'd all be better off if we'd just sit down and, you know, talk. Ask each other what we think and why. Not make assumptions about the people on the other side of the aisle just because we disagree. If one side had all the answers, we wouldn't be having this argument, and I think it's safe to say we're in the middle of a slugfest.

So let's just talk (preferably with the intent to understand where we're both coming from).


Jenilyn Collings said...

You know, one of the most insightful things I've heard on the subject of politics was someone telling me that, "You can't consider yourself well informed until you can understand why the other side feels they way they do." Not that you agree with it, but you can at least understand why someone would feel that way.

And I think I'm a centrist as well. ;)

Mrs. Dub said...

I think we should fraternize online more. And by more, I mean, I should probably comment at least once after following your blog for years.

It sounds like we have a lot in common: Writers, mothers, Mormon liberals, urban conservatives, centrists bored with the endless nitpicking and name-calling we call politics these days.


I used to be quite politically engaged, but basically gave up. I agree with your thoughts on Obamacare - not perfect, but not pernicious either.

So, how do we get others to play nice? And how can we fraternize more?

Faith E. Hough said...

You can fraternize with me if you want to balance out the online Republican/Democrat ratio. :) I get frustrated with both parties, like you, especially when the need for good is met with "but this is what our party says!!" instead of logically finding the best option. (For example, I worry about some of the social policies being enacted now, but I could strangle the republicans who claim that social justice shouldn't be a government issue.) But I'm sure I'd be a terrible politician, so maybe I shouldn't talk... ;)

Jessie Oliveros said...

Thank you for writing this. I agree we should talk, both sides. I don't like the inflammatory comments from either side, and I believe if we stripped the parties away people would agree much more than they are willing to admit now.

Ryan said...

Well said. exactly how I feel. I'm a republican but only relate to them on a few key issues. I wish human nature wasn't so....political.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Such a good point, Jeni. We often don't take the time to just LISTEN to each other, but if we did, we'd learn so much.

Mrs. Dub, so nice to meet you! I always feel good about the posts that draw lurkers to the surface:) I have no idea how to get everyone else to play nice, but it would be lovely to fraternize with you. We do have a lot in common:)

Faith, I was thinking about this very issue just the other day, how unlikely it is that there's even a single person who agrees with every single plank in his/her party's platform. We're all a mishmash of thoughts and opinions; if we agree with everything our parties espouse, we're probably more like robots than people.

Now that's an interesting idea, Jessie, disbanding parties altogether. I fear it may happen to the Republicans whether we want it to or not...

Ryan, one of the great ironies of life is that the people who are least suited to public office are usually the ones who seek it out. I'm so tired of the posturing. Just tell me what you really think and let me decide how much I agree with you. I want to vote for a person, not a politician.

Mara Rae said...

Grrr...I have input on this topic, but since I work for the State Department I feel like I can't say much (partly because of where I live as well). Suffice it to say they're all being a bunch of babies who can't play nice, and they're using our livelihoods as toys. The whole thing is infuriating.

Suzi said...

Mara Rae- I love your comment, so true.

Great post, Krista. I'm sorta like you. Republican, but don't follow the hard line all the time. What I hate is when one side (both do it) misrepresent what the other is doing or saying. I wish we could just get the straight facts from them, but I don't feel like that happens much. It's frustrating.

Jer said...

Well said, Krista. Like you, I am mostly surrounded by Republicans in one area of my life and Democrats in another. Yet I'm over here in no-man's land, registered as an independent. It sucks that I don't have any say in the preliminaries and some other matters, but from a pretty young age I never felt like I could truly identify with either party. And as the years have gone by, I've watched the conflict escalate more and more and the gap between belief and civility widen further and further. It makes me sad because really, no one's winning.

What a concept that maybe things would improve if we all sat down to TALK about it, with the genuine desire to actually understand where the other side is coming from. I think there's this fear that listening to the other side means you're compromising your own values. I don't believe that. I like how Winston Churchill put it: "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Maybe if we listen and *gasp* try to work together, we'll actually find better solutions than what anyone's come up with already.

Andrea said...

Thanks for your post, Krista. And Jenilyn I couldn't agree more. People need to understand where the other side is coming from. We as citizens need to get our information from all different news sources, not just rely on one source. And listen to some of the news shows that have panels of guests that represent different sides to an issue. The demonization that takes place between Republicans and Democrats is absurd. Most are good people, wanting what's best for Americans, but disagree on how to get there what the role of government should be. But I repeat - both sides have GOOD people wanting the BEST for America!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Oh, Mara Rae, I'm sorry to hear that. But it's very cool that you work for the State Department (any other week than this one). I checked out your blog--it looks like you're in Russia at the moment? I hope the government gets its act together soon.

Suzi, it seems like they're NEVER honest; there's always something to spin. Don't they realize that we just want the facts and can make up our own minds?! It's like they don't trust us with it (or think we're too stupid to be able to tell the difference).

Jer, thanks for sharing that Winston Churchill quote. He totally hit the nail right on the head. Where have all the good leaders gone? (Answer: They're too busy being plumbers or taking care of their kids or serving meals to the homeless.) Oh, and Honey Bear's an independent, too, for the same reason.

Andrea, you took the words right out of my mouth (fingers?). I feel exactly the same way. And I loved what you said about getting your information from different news outlets. I think the press has given up on neutrality altogether. (They gave up on it a long time ago in secret, but now they're openly revealing their biases.)

evelyne holingue said...

Your post made me smile and sigh. I fully agree: talking solves almost every issue.
The thing is, I'm afraid all of our leaders have skipped kindergarten where we learn how to listen, take turns, respect different opinions and eventually agree to change our minds.
Let's send them back to kindergarten!

Melodie Wright said...

So true!! American politics have descended into the realm of propaganda where the truth isn't as important as a pithy slogan or name calling in order to place blame. Which gets us nowhere. My prayer is that pragmatism replaces grandstanding, so that issues matter more than posturing.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Evelyne, I wonder how possible it would be to do a wholesale recall and just replace Congress in one fell swoop...

Excellent way to put it, Melodie. I totally agree. But hey, you're from Alaska. Maybe you guys should just secede:)