So, we got the “wave” that we deserved. Republicans took seats in the Senate, the House, and at governors’ mansions across the nation. This good old-fashioned trouncing has the right quite spiritedly, nay gleefully, affirming that America is the “greatest nation in the history of the mankind.” (Interesting case of confirmation bias, don’t you think?) In light of last night’s outcome I thought I’d pen a plea—and it may not be the one that you expect.
For decades we’ve been bowling alone. Voluntary association by Americans—unions, social clubs, bowling leagues, et cetera—has gone the way of the dodo as the internet destroys human empathy. Enquiry shows that without voluntary association, individuals become bereft of social trust. Historically, without social trust, we see very little support for liberal legislation (in the inverse, political and social trust was at an all-time high in America during the passage of New Deal programs). Without liberal legislation, America’s Democratic party lives on as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and as a brand without substance. Logic tells us that if political distrust leads to a dearth of liberal-minded legislation, the political right has no incentive to be trustworthy and, in fact, is likely to work toward disillusionment.
What can be done?
First, let me make an abstract claim I can’t substantiate; one I feel in my bones: with the devolution of trust, the two primary American political parties are now, and have for decades been, in cahoots. Yes, cats and dogs are getting along—a closed-loop ouroboros with Democrat head eating Republican tail.
It all sounds crazy, I know, but why should it? For one, candidates across the aisle take funding from the same corporate sponsors. Their cooperative Manichaeism holds the American political system in a paroxysmal state, a tug-o’-war over the same irreconcilable issues. Cast as devil or god, each party plays a specter defined by individual temperament—reason is the enemy of both. How else could absurdities such as a climate-change-denier as climate chair work? It’s all a comedy of errors intended to inflame sensibilities toward either extreme.
So, for those interested in avoiding the status quo, everlasting political infighting, and pervasive denial of rights, what can be done?
Love and associate with thy neighbor, friends. As often as possible, break taboo and talk about political perceptions and realities. Actual political dialog among peers changes the paradigm and sets independent actors on the path toward creation and understanding of ideas—a sharp departure from the consumption of stale prescribed thought we’re spoon-fed by the mainstream media. More important than farm-to-table, shop local, slow-food and others localized movements you can think of, instead, Think Local.
Shut off your teevee. Forget what George Will, Wonkette, and even Nate Silver have to say. Support independent candidates. Become one yourself! At the very least, go roll a few with friends and talk about what is and what ought to be.
If we don’t take political thought back, we’re in for a thousand years of political gymnastics, business as usual, and trickle-up economics powered by right and left alike.