2: The policing of political opinions is a double-edged sword.
In 2021 America, bipartisanship is a bona fide pipe dream. Every predominant party, and its offshoots, hail it, and seemingly advocate for it, but there is so sustenance behind such supposed admiration of it. Perhaps the concept itself is flawed. Togetherness…in the United States Congress? Unheard of. Every four years, a party takes over the Oval Office, and is instantly at odds with some other component of the federal government. Even if you were to say, “Well, what if the Executive and the Legislative were both blue?” or “Well, what if the Executive and the Legislative were both red?,” an essential understanding of the fundamentals behind governmental operations would demonstrate such scenarios are insignificant.
Mitch McConnell, for example, is the Senate Minority Leader, and to the average “Joe” (no pun intended here), it would appear his influence supersedes that of the Democratic leadership in the Senate, which have the majority of members. There is a finite focus on the 2022 election, which may in fact alter the power dome of the Congress astronomically. The GOP (or whatever is left of it…) has grandiose aspirations of reclaiming the White House in 2024, but as both the Obama and Trump administrations proved, the Executive is constantly challenged by the perpetual power grab in the Legislative. Of course, all bets are off if the United States throws away the two-party system like yesterday’s meatloaf, and that may very well be Gen Z’s very own bona fide pipe dream, but from a scholarly perspective, diversifying public opinion and subsequently the roles of governmental chapters may significantly temper the disenfranchisement most have with government, and naturally, with the realm of politics in its entirety.
“I don’t feel represented by the candidates the parties in power keep offering up… [a]nd I won’t vote for a ‘lesser evil’…” (Norman, the “conservative millennial – The Doe, 2020)
“Lesser of two evils” was a commonly used phrase in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. Those who were exhausted by political hogwash were unbothered by grouping together Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden as “more of the same.” The Trojan horse for the alt-right that was Trump now faces a challenge rallying up the very same base that positioned for the White House in 2016, as he leaves the world in suspense regarding a potential 2024 run against the incumbent. There is anecdotal accounts of those now facing persecution for their participation in the failed Capitol insurrection that Trump “betrayed” them, and turned out to be just as much a “swamp beast” as those he vowed to eliminate from the Washington aether. With Trump’s reputation now stained as yet another corporate insider, along with his egregious downplaying of the coronavirus pandemic and fanaticizing of murderous dictators abroad, political dissatisfaction is at an all-time high. If the social experiment known as Donald John Trump was not the answer to anti-government sentiments, than what is? Does such a solution actually exist?
The consequence is an abundant fracturing of political opinions, bolstered by ever-increasing access to free platforms that enable expression of such various thoughts. Freedom of speech is NOT freedom from consequence. We simply cannot make claims without evidence as formal backup. We simply cannot stoke the flames of division further by mischaracterization via misinformation. Misinformation has always been a tent pole issue amongst the technologically advancing conglomerate, but only recently has its extraneous effects been prophesized. The mainstream media is no longer an objective form of communication, as viewers simply seek “news” from the organizations that withhold their political beliefs, and thus, the stories advertised find themselves at odds with the literal….what really happened at that moment in time… the good ole’ truth is lost in the shuffle, and the assault in truth is an assault on coexistence. Those who are bad and those who are good tell us who is bad and who is good. There is no mediator for the media, there is no mediator for political discourse, and there is no moderator for civility on the World Wide Web or the in-person debate stages. The art of debate is no longer something to be enamored by and richly analyzed. Rather, debates (especially in the presidential arena) are spectacles, doused in popcorn and wine spritzers. It is keeping tabs of personal quips, ad hominem for the win! Whether it is “…then you’d be in jail” or “Would you just shut up man?” the electorate craves personality over policy. In the 1960s, the issue was relatively subtle: an overt preference for JFK in the first presidential election of the new decade was due to his posture and physical appearance verses an evidentially nervous (and profusely sweating) Nixon.
Now, in the “Age of Trumpism,” the loudest (and most gaudy) voice in the room is favored. Such characters may very well have no legitimate approaches to the problems they become preachy about, but so long as there is anti-political rhetoric to salivate over, then most of the disenfranchised will remind hopeful. Their ignorance, however, threatens the sanctity of democracy. Anarchy was once solely anchored in the construct of fantasy, and yet, the extremes of the political spectrum belabor disregard for the rule of law, essentially making a mockery of the very Constitution some claim to “protect and defend.” As someone who has prodigious respect for our veteran population, and those who sacrificed their own lives for the betterment of society, such division is tiring and trying.
“What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy? It means that only the most narrow perimeters of change are possible and allowable.” (Lorde, 1979)
Policing political discourse is a double-edged sword, when the powers conducting the metaphorical gold sifting are shifty themselves. We cannot rely on those installed into power only to make fundamental changes to our way of life, and improvements to these nation states. Too easily, and too frequently in history, those aroused by power (even in the most apparently democratic election processes) mutate into spineless despots, with no regard for the human condition. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, and then we must be tactful, as to who we idolize and we scrutinize.
Politics is no longer categorized as boring, mundane, and only for “old folks.” With these past two presidential elections alone, younger folks have mobilized in never-before-seen rates. There is a clear interest there, and thus, investment towards the future of the nation at large. With that in mind, the work is never done, but the motivation remains supreme. The hogwash that seems customary is weaponized to deter involvement, which ultimately leads to realization in the inequities of political contribution. We must always defend our voice, but also admit to our inaccuracies, abolish misinformation, and not abruptly disparage those who do not see eye-to-eye with. It is hard, but possible, to come to terms with the notion that even our elected officials fail to possess all the answers to the anomalies of life. Nobody knows which is a blessing in disguise. It enables us to think, lament, hypothesize, try, fail, and sometimes even succeed.
The death of discourse is the death of a nation. The double-edged sword perforates both predator and prey, so always tread carefully in your call to action.