User talk:Woozle/2005-09-06 Thoughts on the Divide

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anonymous user 166.89.26.43 said:

You make some good points at the start, but then you resort to "us vs. them" statements.

I think your generalizations and simplifications are stereotyping everyone you don't agree with as not as educated or intelligent as you because their priorities are different from yours, and, I don't believe, entirely accurate.

Most of the division on Red vs. Blue is because of core issues, where each issue has its importance to a certain group of people, and they are willing to compromise on the others to see their issue addressed the want. It is one of the biggest failures of the two-party system.

For example, I work to earn payment so I can support my family as best as I am able. I prefer keeping more of my hard earned money in order to spend it on the things I and my family need and giving to charities that I choose. I don't like giving tax money to the government beaurocracy, which takes 88% of it then doles out the remainder to whom they see fit to, deserving or not.

JFK cut taxes, and I would have voted for him. Reagan cut taxes, and I would have voted for him but I wasn't even registered at the time because I didn't care about politics. Clinton raised taxes, and I registered to vote and voted against him (observe I didn't vote for anyone, just against the ideal that the government knows better how to spend my hard earned money than I do.)

The core issues are, as you indicated, about the direction we'd all like to see this country going. Many prefer the way things were when the Constitution was written, others want to make changes to laws to make things change toward what they see as ideal, and some want to completely rewrite core components to meet their own ends (e.g Handgun Control Inc.).

Before addressing the core issues, the basis of this country itself is an issue. Some Americans don't even believe in the things that caused this country to be founded.

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." ~Preamble to the Declaration of Independance

Many would take exception with that:

  1. All men aren't created equal.
  2. There is no Creator.
  3. Rights are not inalienable.

That these core beliefs, found to be self-evident by the founding fathers of this great nation, are themselves in dispute is a major issue of contention. How can our country remain as great as it was it is no longer what it was founded to be at its core?

From these base issues expands many core issues that are constant points of contention, and personal priorities are the deciders where you will see people throw their vote. If I believe in Pro-Choice I vote with the Dems, if I value protecting myself and my family I'll vote with the Repubs, etc. However, none of it matters, as the political system is not about making America better, its not about doing the right thing, but only about lining politicians' pockets with money from the lobbyists, special interest groups, and the taxpayers.

Until the people start electing representatives based on values instead of core issues, we will continue to have career politicians and not real representatives.

"In democracy you get the goverment you deserve. Alternately you deserve the government you got." ~Josef Heller

counter-counter

...but then you resort to "us vs. them" statements.

Well, I'm talking about ideologies which are seemingly mutually incompatible, so this seems appropriate. The "us" and the "them" are not each [a particular group of people] as much as they are each [people advocating a certain viewpoint].

Regardless of whether the ideologies truly are incompatible, what maintains the divide is the lack of dialogue. I have to say that I really don't see much effort on the part of "them" to find common ground for discussion; "they" seem to be much more tightly rallied around a particular way of thinking than are "we", with a great deal of mistrust (not to mention outright ridicule) of anyone who suggests different ways of looking at things... and when one group declines to engage in dialogue, the dialogue can't happen.

Two qualifying statements, though:

  1. I'm more than open to the idea that those ideologies are actually reconcilable; in fact, that what what I originally thought, before I came up with my theory (shared values, different priorities). It is just a theory, of course, and not very well-developed at that.
  2. Lately I've found myself agreeing more with what David Brin has to say on the subject, i.e. that the supposed Red-Blue Divide or "Culture War" is not so much an inherent crack separating two fundamentally different moral "sides" in this country as it is a deliberate attempt to find any notable crack, shine a light on it, and insert wedging implements to widen it, as a way of garnering support for a particular power-hungry cabal. Find a threat, magnify it, and convince as many people as possible that you're the only hope in fighting it: a very old recipe for power.
I think your generalizations and simplifications are stereotyping everyone you don't agree with as not as educated or intelligent as you because their priorities are different from yours, and, I don't believe, entirely accurate.

That is very much why I also said "I hope any readers with one or more toes on the "Red" side of affairs will correct me if I am mischaracterizing them in any way." I am aware that I may have an innate tendency to oversimplify viewpoints with which I disagree; I think most people do. It looks like you have accepted that invitation in your response, which I appreciate.

Most of the division on Red vs. Blue is because of core issues, where each issue has its importance to a certain group of people, and they are willing to compromise on the others to see their issue addressed the want. It is one of the biggest failures of the two-party system.

I think I agree with this... it's not too far from what I said about culture war, above.

...

Before addressing the core issues, the basis of this country itself is an issue. Some Americans don't even believe in the things that caused this country to be founded.

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." ~Preamble to the Declaration of Independance

Many would take exception with that:

  1. All men aren't created equal.
  2. There is no Creator.
  3. Rights are not inalienable.

I see a slight shift from the way the words were written to the way you're interpreting them. (I won't call it "twisting" because that implies intent.)

To invert your inversions:

  1. "All men are created equal": so far so good; that's exactly what the preamble contends.
  2. "There is a creator": Possible problem. I'll concede that they were probably talking about God, not (say) their parents, because of the capital C in Creator. However, the existence of said creator is not one of the claims of the Preamble or the Declaration, as far as I know; it was simply common belief at the time, and is mentioned as such... in much the same way that only "Men" are included in the deal, because women had no political existence at the time. We've changed that.
  3. "Rights are inalienable": actually, it says that there are certain rights which are inalienable, not that all rights are inalienable; for instance, the "right to remain silent" only applies in certain situations (probably not the best example, but maybe you see what I mean).
That these core beliefs, found to be self-evident by the founding fathers of this great nation, are themselves in dispute is a major issue of contention. How can our country remain as great as it once was if it is no longer what it was founded to be at its core?

We don't have agreement about what the core values were, for starters. Perhaps that would be a good topic to start.

Slavery was another one of those commonly accepted practices and beliefs, at the time of the Declaration. Any number of beliefs about the nature of the universe have been changed since that time. Isn't gradual refinement part of all progress?

You have to remember, too, that when the country was founded, it was a huge departure from the accepted practices of the time. I could also ask: How can our country remain as great as it once was if we no longer have the vision and energy to see when old ideas are simply no longer needed or wanted, and we're straining under the weight of the baggage? The Founding Fathers did just that – discarded (for example) the idea that we had to have a king; they took a lot of Enlightenment ideals which, up to that point, hadn't really been taken seriously enough to be trusted as the structure for a government, and said "this is how we want things to be, this is how we want our country to work, and we're willing to pledge our lives and our honors in pursuit of this idea".

...

However, none of it matters, as the political system is not about making America better, its not about doing the right thing, but only about lining politicians' pockets with money from the lobbyists, special interest groups, and the taxpayers.

Certainly that is the problem with the present political system. I see some alternatives in early embryonic form, here and at Campaigns Wikia and countless other places.

Until the people start electing representatives based on values instead of core issues, we will continue to have career politicians and not real representatives.

I wouldn't disagree with you, but I'd go a step further and say that until we can start deciding issues based on rational discussion, instead of having to maneuver through the present weird political chess-poker hybrid, we'll continue to have bad laws and corruption in high places.

--Woozle 21:59, 24 July 2006 (EDT)

166.89.26.43 replied (2006-07-24 21:59)

until we can start deciding issues based on rational discussion, instead of having to maneuver through the present weird political chess-poker hybrid, we'll continue to have bad laws and corruption in high places.

So how does one start discourse when both sides are so close-minded in their ideals they won't budge an inch?

Personally, I find both sides hypocritical and ignorant in many issues, yet they are so stuck in their idealogies that they can't see the forest for the trees. A common example, the right-to-lifers think life is sacred and killing unborn children is abhorent, yet most also believe we should kill murderers. Most pro-choicers believe that murderers have rights, but the murderers' victims do not, nor do innocent unborn children up to the point of cutting the umbilical cord.

How do you make either side see how hypcritical they are being, never mind trying to find common ground between them?

Personally, I believe in what works. If arming every citizen in the country lowers crime (e.g. Switzerland) then I'm for it. If legalizing abortions prevents backstreet coat-hanger inflicted deaths, I'm for that too.

Sites like this one and Campaigns wikia have the possibility to get a small selection of the populace sharing ideas, but how does it make the leap from "paper" to action?

Being fair; values

A couple of very quick thoughts:

facts are not what is most important to a Bush supporter.
  • this seems unfair - couldn't this be said about the supporters of most politicians and beliefs?
  • I recall reading about a study which claimed to show that Republican and Democrat votes hold certain values becuase of their party affiliation. That is, they don't have certain values and choose to vote a certain way because of it; rather, they have a sense of identity and/or loyalty, which influences their values. Don't know how the study was carried out, and I haven't been able to find it again...

--Chriswaterguy 23:13, 13 February 2007 (EST)

Woozle responds

I think it could be said about many supporters of most politicians and beliefs, but I think it is especially and overwhelmingly true of Bush supporters – especially the (comparatively) few remaining at this late date, when he's down in sub-30%-approval territory. At the time I originally wrote this, he was substantially higher and possibly still above 50%; in my mind, at any rate, he still (incomprehensibly!) had the approval of a majority of Americans, even if I wasn't up-to-date on the latest polls.

Also, when I originally made the claim you quote, it was little more than a hunch based on my own observations and discussions (well... "attempts to discuss" is probably more accurate) with Bush supporters; since then, I have come across a summary of some research on authoritarianism which seems to back up this hunch with some pretty powerful data. (I've only recently come across that page; it's are packed with very interesting and useful stuff, and I haven't completely worked out what to do with it, but I will definitely be making use of it.)

The study you mention may be the one referred to here or here (don't know if they're the same study). (I posted both of those links on the Main Page earlier this month.) Yes, all parties have their followers – but most parties have at least some justification for most of what they do. The GOP has gone insane, and continuing to agree with the Bush administration's decisions and statements has always required much more "loyalty" to authority than loyalty to the heart and soul of the Republican party's beliefs (some of which I agree with) or to the well-being of the country, much less loyalty to the truth.

Pulling back just a bit to the bigger picture, Issuepedia welcomes writings pointing out how anyone might be placing personal or ideological loyalty over factuality and rationality.

--Woozle 07:19, 14 February 2007 (EST)

I'm inclined to agree, mostly... but having met plenty of lefties who are as narrow-minded as could be, I'm still uncomfortable with labeling one side in this way. Besides which, I think discussion of the facts is far more powerful than off the cuff comments. Such comments can seem dismissive and biased, and I fear could turn some people off, even if there happens to be a lot of thought behind them.
Anyway, I'll put this page on my watchlist, but now I must stleep. --Chriswaterguy 08:20, 14 February 2007 (EST)
If we're talking "Democrats" and "Republicans" as sides (or "liberals" and "conservatives", or however you want to measure people's political views), then I agree; Republicans are not the problem per se. The current administration, however, are republican conservatives in name only; they serve nobody but themselves (conspiracy theories aside; in any case, they serve no constituency), and are not any "side" of any legitimate political spectrum (though of course that opinion is always subject to revision in the face of contradictory data).
Hence the front page quote: Republicans are not the enemy; disinformation is the enemy. The current administration are disinfocrats, using religious conservatism as a cover to create a coalition of the gullible.
As far as turning people off: well, that's why I posted the editorial within my namespace instead of as a main Issuepedia article. If I later refine it to something with sourced justifications, then I might repost it as more of a factual page. Either way, one must speak what one thinks is the truth, even if others find it unpleasant. A primary strength of the wiki format is its friendliness to error-correction (disagreeing comments on articles and articles taking up a contrary position are both encouraged); hopefully we move, however gradually, from just "what I think is true" to something everyone can more or less agree on.
...although it might be useful to have a proper "forum" area on the site, so spontaneous musings can be posted in a less formal way and responded to more easily by those less comfortable with wiki editing. I'm currently trying to decide what package to go with. --Woozle 09:52, 14 February 2007 (EST)
I do love the "bullshit is the enemy" quote by Lars-Erik Nelson. I'll leave the political discussion for another time though - I sympathize to a large degree, but my own preferred approach to communication is consciously somewhat different. But then we're probably both very different in style to the way political "debate" is usually carried out e.g. in the media. Interesting discussion for another day. (Btw, I'm getting broadband in a couple of weeks - I'd be up for a voice chat. I'm Chriswaterguy on Skype.)

Re forums, have you checked out Wikia:Campaigns:Forums? oops... http://campaigns.wikia.com/wiki/Forum:Index. I don't know if that's a good solution, but it's a forum in a wiki context. Still confusing for wiki virgins though. --Chriswaterguy 11:07, 5 March 2007 (EST)