OldVet on Pandora’s Box

This one is by OldVet.

Putting People in Boxes – Pandora’s Solution is Grating My Nerves

Is a political “liberal” somebody who wants to play Robin Hood with other people’s money, or a “conservative” somebody who wants to stick his nose in your bedroom and listen to you whisper on your phone? We have commercial businesses who sell beer through advertisements using talking frogs, and liqueurs through sultry dancing girls at a disco.

Labels, boxes, categories, – are these harmless shortcuts or are they obnoxious assumptions designed to produce conformity? Our political parties and media pundits are happy with putting people in boxes, like the proverbial crippled Spanish-surname woman or the bible thumping black-hating redneck. Whole campaigns are built around putting you in a box, or a political tribe, and appealing to your assumed prejudices.

I find it obnoxious, even if it works. Since I’m closer to Democrats than Republicans this year, let me pick on the Democratic Party first. I’m repelled by the ethnic and tribal categorization of Americans under the disguised battle cry of “multiculturalism” and “pluralistic politics.” It’s Democrats who have introduced the idea of the “hyphenated American.” African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Irish-Americans, Jewish-Americans, working class-Americans, and so on and so on and so on. This is one of the most divisive tactics that exists. It splinters the very concept of the “united states” and the sense of a shared destiny and political ethos.

Republicans couch it a little differently, but aim to do the same thing. Pro-life-Americans, never-surrender-Americans, patriotic-Americans, free-market-Americans, small-government-Americans. And so on and so on. These are terms that don’t merely describe, but which over time have trained Republicans and all Americans to have strong visceral reactions. Competitors have been turned into enemies. Old women spit out their hatred of “liberals” as they wait in doctors offices for treatments paid by Medicare. I’ve heard them here in Tennessee.

After decades of constant efforts to splinter our society into “Us” or “Them”, and drive voters into unthinking tribal loyalty to one party or the other, is it any wonder that political debate has become a matter of irrational statements and slogans? I have a theory. My theory is that the fastest growing set of registered voters in the United States are listing themselves as Independent. They’re sick of being taken for granted because of their color, or income, or gender, or religion, or for any other reason. Otherwise why would John McCain and Barack Obama be such strong candidates this year? They’re the two candidates who are LESS easily put into a standard box with the standard political labels slapped on them.

If you think that micro-targeting and micro-pandering to voters in the U.S. is a good idea, think about the other ethnic or religious tribal societies in the news today. Afghanistan, Rwanda, Kenya, Iraq, Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Israel. We keep on this same divisive path, we’ll have to take our machetes down to the polling place in November and chop our way into the voting booth.

This one was by OldVet.