This election cycle is a scary one. I feel like I belong in the Land of Oz saying “Ignorance, Socialism, and Debt…Oh my”. I have a theory (which probably isn’t original but I don’t feel like researching it) that I call the social pendulum theory. It posits that an allegedly free thinking society will remain centric, so long as it lacks any external forces to coerce its movement in one direction or another. In America, those forces are the 24 hour new cycle (with ignorant and one sided viewpoints from Foxnews, CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times), civil rights “leaders” who feel a sense of anger when someone of a particular demographic is mistreated, or even vocal religious leaders who don’t accurately portray the perfect love and justice that they claim is real. I’m sure there’s more but I digress.
Nowadays it’s all too easy to focus on these negative voices, which exist for one purpose: to counteract and contradict each other. Like two magnets forcing an object to perpetually propel toward each other, our society is left feeling dizzy in the fray. It all began back in the 1980’s with the inception of the 24 hour news cycle (CNN). It was groundbreaking for its day and sharply heightened everyone’s acute awareness of the most minute details of the inner workings of our government. This is a good thing, right? We rapidly became aware of EVERYTHING wrong in our society’s construct. Then this great invention, the 24 hour news cycle, was hijacked by politicians as a platform for their talking points. It became a rallying point for an ideology. Slowly, over time, the minor differences of opinion between left and right, Democrat and Republican, conservative and liberal, became the great divide. Eventually, these newly divided sub-societies planted their flag in various outlets (Foxnews – Conservative and CNN, MSNBC, New York Times – Liberal) to serve as the official standard bearer for their cause like a real life Game of Thrones. This is where the pendulum comes into play.
Starting with Bill Clinton’s time in office, the country saw its rise in polarization. Bush II touted his platform as being vastly different than Clinton’s because, well that’s what catapulted his voice to the top. The pendulum, which was a few points to the left, was now a few more points right of center. Fast forward to Obama and we see the same scenario play out again. His views and opinions were so far to the left that it appealed to those being repelled by the recent conservative rhetoric.
Here we are in 2016 facing yet another circus election. Given how far to the left recently elected officials have been, those disenfranchised with that ideology have been galvanized by a rallying cry from the lunatic known as “The Donald”. In response to their ideology being threatened, the antithesis of Trump’s platform has been called to action. No, I’m not talking about Hillary. I’m talking about Bernie. There is so much overlap between these two candidates and their supporters, that it’s scary. Here’s a few:
Expressing anger towards immigrants Expressing anger towards the rich
0 experience in government 0 experience in business
Extreme views on economics Extreme views on economics
Supported by ignorance Supported by ignorance
Message of division Message of division
Bad foreign policies Bad foreign policies
I believe the biggest concern to the future of the US is not ISIS. It’s not Russia. It’s not even our debt (even though it’s worse than a 10 year college grad with no job, living in his parents’ basement). It’s our polarity. When our pride causes us to react to the issues at hand by shoring up support and preparing for war, then we’re doing it wrong. Discussing the issues of immigration, abortion, terrorism, and basic civil rights should encourage candid conversations, not stop that dialogue in its tracks like a 7 car pile-up on the Don Holt Bridge.
In this election cycle, there are many voices out there crying for attention like a child without his toy. There are many wagging fingers who claim to have the answer. Here’s a little secret: None of them have the answer. It doesn’t matter if you support one of the outlying candidates who are offering something radically different from what we currently have, or one of the more moderate candidates who offer much of the same. None of them have the answer because all of them use our differences for their gain.
Here’s a few tips on how to navigate these tricky times:
- Be Discerning. Consider whether the candidate you support truly supports a unified America, or simply appeals to your demographic.
- Choose Love. I once heard a child psychologist say that the goal of parenting, even in disciplining, needs to be connection. The same holds true for adulthood. When you disagree with someone, the goal should always be to maintain that connection or relationship in spite of the differences.
- Be Grateful. It’s way too easy to blame immigrants or Wall Street for our problems. At least, it’s far easier than to own our portion of the blame. Practice the art of being grateful for what you have, and for the inalienable right to pursue more of it.
If we practice these 3 points I believe it will help the pendulum stop swinging so wildly out of control so we can make some real progress on tackling the real issues.