Go Team, Go! Political Fanatics

It amazes me how we align ourselves to a political party. We marry it. It’s our team. We wear the “D” or “R” proudly. For some of us it’s been a tradition passed down as a family heritage, father and mother to son and daughter. “My daddy always voted ___, and my daddy’s daddy always voted ___, so shall we.” Go team, go! THIS IS NOT A SPORT.

It’s bad enough that we fall into this trap as American voters, but then it spills into our elected officials, whom we would expect to know better and be above the game. Yet they pledge loyalty to their party over the very people who entrusted them to represent their communities. Those officials claim they love their country, and they clearly believe it. I believe they believe it. They’ve convinced themselves of it in all sincerity. I suppose this is the “swamp”, where the stream of bold ideas flows into a bog of self-righteousness then stagnates.

We cannot sustain as a country with extreme polarization forcing us to side with one team versus the other propelling us towards anomie. Nor can we overcome our growing intransigence with a leader driving one side against the other within the very country he leads. This makes no sense. This is not leadership. We all know it.

We have met the enemy, and he is us. ~Walt Kelly

What’s the cause? How did this happen? We, the people created it. We, the people took our eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, texting while driving. We disengaged from our responsibility of holding our elected officials accountable. We own it! Voting into this amazing country’s highest office a showman playing off our anger towards the very swamp we created to juice his own brand may be the dumbest, most reckless thing we’ve ever done to our country. It isn’t his fault he’s in office. He’s not to blame. He believes in himself, as misguided as that might be. We selected him against our own good judgement, or lack of. Some of us recognize this. Some haven’t … yet. Now we may be faced with living our own “Pacific Heights”, a tenant who refuses to leave. Our president, our senators, our representatives didn’t cause this. We did! We need to take more care in how we elect our government officials. It’s our responsibility, our job.

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity. ~Dale Carnegie

We are an emotional species. Our most vivid memories tie to emotional events. Our inspiration spawns from emotional images or sounds. It’s no surprise then that we have a tendency to make decisions based on emotion, yet we know better. We often remind each other “don’t let your emotions make your decisions.” We’re human, we forget. Our successful choices may sometimes be dumb luck, but more often occur where we seriously weigh the lofty impact choices may have on our lives, not only as individuals or families, but as community members. There should be no doubt now the gravity in our voting choices. The outcomes reflect a neglected duty.

Let’s treat voting with the respect it deserves. Let’s educate ourselves appropriately and help each other better prepare. For example, we can take remedial education in civics and demand it from political candidates. We kid ourselves in thinking we already know this stuff. We’re human, we forget, and we are biased towards self-crafted narratives based on what we’ve convinced ourselves is “truth” that takes us down paths we might not have followed otherwise.

It’s not all dire. Our unique form of government has been challenged before and we’ve survived, before our time. Our time is NOW. Survival is not automatic. It takes a collective “NO MORE” effort, a spark to wake us up as it did in the 1950’s when Joseph Welch stood up to Joseph McCarthy’s “Red Scare” bullying saying, “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” We are Americans. If there’s any team to get behind here it’s letter begins with “A”.

Careful now! Mind you, this shouldn’t then unite our “A” team against some foreign enemy, unless of course we’re confronted with the need to do so. Rather we are uniting to a different cause. That being to answer for ourselves…

Can we continue the tradition of governing ourselves using the constitutional framework handed down to us by a group of brilliant, yet imperfect, often disagreeing early Americans?

They were the first “A” team. Now that’s a team I can get behind. What about you? Go team, go!

Notable: Serving as McCarthy’s right-hand man during his absurd and abusive communist-cleansing tactics was Roy Cohn, our President’s mentor. That’s a coincidence that should not be readily dismissed.

Worthy Reading:

“What they learned in deliberation — at least for some of them — is you don’t just accept what your party says … You ask questions. You deliberate, even if you only do it with yourself.”

“… people are trying harder to look right rather than be right.”

“Like rats that cannot stop pressing a button, partisans may be simply unable to stop believing weird things. Extreme partisanship may be literally addictive.”

“We all fuse our identities in some ways. If you are a diehard Red Sox fan, you are almost certainly going to stay a fan, even as the roster completely turns over.”

“Once fused with a group or leader … followers seem tied to them in such a way that things are true because the leader said them. Dystopian as that may seem, it can be a coping mechanism. Fusion is not appealing because it makes sense; it is appealing because it alleviates the cognitive and emotional burden of thinking.”

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Philosopher, dreamer, always learning and generally striving to find clarity in chaos.

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Guy Hochstetler

Guy Hochstetler

Philosopher, dreamer, always learning and generally striving to find clarity in chaos.

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