Thursday, December 16, 2010
To my liberal and conservative friends as they yell at each other
A study done during the Bush v. Kerry campaign rounded up a bunch of partisan Democrats and Republicans, put 'em in an MRI brain scanner and while there had each consider material that was negative about their guy and negative about the other guy.
Both kinds of partisans reacted exactly the same: they experienced a moment of cognitive dissonance when they read negative stuff about their guy. They proceeded to rationalize away that stuff, and at the same time to treat the negative stuff about the other guy as presaging the End of the Republic if he won.
During this entire process their brains' cerebral cortexes never lit up. Not once. All the processing went on down in the Chimpanzee Core of the human bran, after which the partisan got a rush of endorphins upon getting rid of that distressing cognitive dissonance.
* Doctrinaire Republicans and Democrats process political information IDENTICALLY--with emotions and tribal associations, not reasoning.
* Each only sees the bad in the other and only the good in themselves.
* Each considers their political philosophy as if it were a religious faith, whose principles are self-evident and not to be questioned.
* Each sees the other as having consciously decided to be evil and destroy America and themselves to be right-thinking patriots (though the extremes of both extremes hate America--both the commie one-worlders and the militia group conspiracy nuts).
* And each defines the same political terms differently, making it nearly impossible for them to communicate with each other.
* Consequently each sees the other as believing self-contradictory things because they apply their own definitions to the things the other side says.
My conclusion: America needs liberals, conservatives, and centrists. So has every tribe back to the dawn of time.
The tribe always had to decide whether to move or stay put, go to war or flee or surrender, try the new berry or not, see if you can pull more with those round thingies or a travois (answer: depends on surface conditions, actually). And between the eager proponents of the new thing and staunch defenders of the old, of considering issues by probable outcome or by strict adherence to principles, a plurality of centrists has always been needed to mediate, listen, and make the soundest decision possible.
Politics gets out of whack when either liberals or conservatives get control--or when the whole shebang becomes so mired in special interests that nobody gets what they want except for a relative handful of powerful families, as is true in most of the third world, and as has become true recently in America.
Those powerful families are delighted by liberals and conservatives thinking each other is the enemy, when its actually a group that has no political philosophy other than getting power, keeping it, and getting more.
But every time the people start to get an inkling of what's been done to them, the richest families get us to go after each other--and by doing so, play into their hands.
The Republican Party's rich patrons aren't really conservative, except when it fattens their wallets. As a Democrat I consider my part slightly less corrupt, but only slightly, and covertly beholden to the same patrons under the table, along with certain special interests.
Some have said there's only one party in Washington--the Party of Money.
I wouldn't go so far. Liberals and conservatives have real differences, of course. But have you noticed that neither side gets what it wants after "their" party gets back into power? Bills emerge, but always so loopholed and skewed to satisfy the whispering voices in the corridors that they're hardly recognizable.
Take healthcare reform. Yay, we won. Only "we" wanted single payer. What we actually got was the mildest of reforms--trumpeted as Armageddon by the Right, of course. But watch what "your" pols do now.
The fact is that the incomes of nearly all Democrats and Republicans have stagnated for over 30 years, while the richest of the rich have appropriated more and more of America's financial output. This has held true through both Republican and Democratic administrations.
And that's the reality, folks. So just remember as you're yelling at each other--you're amusing the billionaires no end.