Do you know why I think talking politics creates anger and strife?

Because it pulls out the deepest of our beliefs and values. The places inside of us that get hidden in the daily this and that of life. The places that most deeply define the ‘me’ of each of us.

We mostly talk about the weather, the kids, TV, funny memes, the traffic, the ball game, the sickness of a friend. The things we know we all can agree to in social way. But when we talk politics we are really talking about who we are. It’s the real us.

And then we see that this person we usually chat with quite easily is not who we are. Is not part of the core beliefs that define ourselves. It’s disturbing and upsetting and even if the conversation is never shouted, it is separator. It creates a sense of other. Not like me.

It is far more comfortable to keep conversations to the safety zones of daily conversations. The places where the illusions of being together and not separate can be maintained. It is these illusions that bind our society together. The agreement to find ways to hold together rather than split apart based on the sense of other that becomes so apparent with politics.

That sense of other is also why people can change their politics. We think we are one perfectly defined ME. But we aren’t. We are an ever changing flow of Me. We are constantly adapting and changing ourselves and our beliefs to our current status. It is the necessity of survival. People change. Politics change. Civilizations change. And the arc of history is toward improvement.

A political conversation marks a person. It makes them think. It puts a small place in their head for a different way to thinking. All of those conversations and experiences add up. Sometimes they add up to have a different view on politics and self. It’s rarely a eureka. It’s rarely a violent change of understanding. It’s usually a small consistent wave onto a shore of new ideas pulling up the sand and redepositing it on a new shore. A new view. A new Me.

It’s a fool who thinks they know everything.  It is a fool who cannot change their views when better understanding is obtained.  And only fools remain the same.

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Did you know?

That Trump, Cruz, Clinton and Sanders all favor gun regulation?  To differing degrees to be sure, but all of them are OK with regulation and have some form of proposal for it.  Trump favors extending the waiting period and eliminating Assault Rifles, while Sanders wants there to be instant background checks and no semi-automatic weapons.  But some kind of regulation – everyone agrees.

Did you know…

That Trump, Cruz, Clinton and Sanders all favor Israel.  With Sanders being almost critical and the rest be unreservedly in support of Israel.

Did you know…

That Trump, Clinton and Sanders all favor increasing taxes on the very wealthy?  Cruz has a flat tax proposal that he thinks is going to save the country.  But the rest of them Clinton & Sanders  think we need to make those 1% stand up for more of their share.  [Keith has pointed out that Trump actually wants to reduce the tax rate on the wealthy – my information was from 17 years ago.  Apparently, he no longer thinks the wealthy need to pay more]

Did you know…

That Trump, Cruz, Clinton and Sanders all favor creating jobs.  I know – that surprises no one.

Did you know…

That Cruz and Clinton  favor the USA Freedom act?  Sanders is against and I couldn’t find Trumps position, except that he is pro surveillance, so… probably fine with it.

Did you know…

That Trump, Cruz, Clinton and Sanders all favor preserving social security and Medicare.  That all of them want to reform the Veterans Administration?  Again – that surprises no one, but its important to recognize the similarities.

 

There are obviously many stark differences along party lines, but the differences between Trump & Cruz and Sanders & Clinton are fairly nuanced.

Between Trump & Cruz the largest difference is on taxes – Cruz is very keen on a flat tax and removing the IRS.  Trump wants to cut spending except on military and increase decrease tax on billionaires.

Between Sanders & Clinton the biggest difference is in Security/Privacy & Healthcare.  Sanders thinks we shouldn’t sacrifice our rights and privacy to fight terrorism, Clinton is OK with doing that.  Sanders wants a true Universal Healthcare Plan, Clinton wants to improve the current ACA.

I think it’s important to note that the differences between the party candidates get inflated on social media and by the candidates themselves in an effort to claim distinctiveness.

I’m worried about the polarization

of human political discussion.

In my lifetime, I’ve never before felt like the everyone is either a Conservative or a Liberal. I didn’t even think about their political thoughts.  I just met them as people.  Their political leanings didn’t enter into my judgement of their character.  But over the last 10 years, I have evolved an unconscious bias of judging people based on conservative or liberal.   ITS VERY DISTURBING.

The reason that I do this new character assessment is that for the last 10 years I have been breathing the ether of the internet on a daily basis.   When I’m on Twitter or Tumblr or Reddit – politics is everywhere.  Memes abound.  And what is interesting is that these people who post all seem to agree with ME.

Because the internet serves us our portions with algorithms that assess what we like and then give us more of that, our politics become a defining character of our internet experience.  Google, Twitter, Tumblr  all know that I’m liberal.  They feed me what I want to see.

Some of it I do to myself.  I chose my followers in Twitter – my first social media experience based on some things I was avidly interested in at the time.  Those things tend toward the liberal side of the coin – science and skepticism.  Then I started to play Favstar on Twitter.  I naturally followed the other people whose funny tweets I liked.  I, of course, thought tweets that reinforced my own liberal bias were funnier.   So I was choosing my own echo chamber.   I started on tumblr by following all my twitter followers and so it went.

I’m keenly aware that I’m living in an internet bubble because I work in a conservative fish tank.  There are 3 liberals and 47 conservatives where I work.   And this reminds me daily that being a conservative is NOT a character flaw.  Which is the message that is served to me daily in twitter and tumblr.

I’ve tried not to create my own echo chamber at WordPress.  We will see if it works.

Here’s the thing.  These echo chambers isolate our viewpoint.  They reinforce it and coax it out toward the edges of extremism.  Because there is nothing to temper it.  To remind us that perfectly reasonable people have different views.

The isolation of a viewpoint is how they create a terrorist.  They physically isolate them from seeing any other viewpoint and then keep hammering in the same ideas.  And those ideas become the ONLY way.  The only right thing.  It makes an unnatural extremism seem normal and right.

On the internet, we don’t have to physically isolate ourselves to only see one view point.  We only have to go to our favorite hangouts.  And the algorithms and our natural tendency to choose people who agree with us will do the rest.   Of course we all experience real life, so we aren’t in danger of being terrorists, but we ARE in danger of creating an unnatural dichotomy.  Of a confirmation bias that is setting us up for failure.

I’ve read from credible sources that this extreme polarization has happened before in the US, and I suppose it’s happened elsewhere.  But I can’t help seeing that uniqueness of our current lives on the internet is contributing.

Where is the Republicans Outrage about their candidates?

Liberals tend to paint a picture of The Republican as a white man with quietly or not so quietly held racist views, desperately and obliviously holding on to his white privilege like it’s a childhood blankie.

But the reality is surely otherwise.  We all know at least one perfectly reasonable Republican who is not a racist.  I know quite a few and I tend to believe there are a whole lot of them.

My biggest issue with them is that they are NOT screaming in outrage at what GOP candidates are saying and doing in the name of their party.

Why isn’t Donald Trump being kicked out the GOP for being a flagrantly misogynistic racist candidate?

Why isn’t anyone even demanding that?

If they don’t want their party to devolve into hellish caricatures of candidates, they need to defend it from the cretins who would make it that way.

Saying they will vote Trump out on the primary isn’t good enough.  The tacit endorsement of the Republican Party is all over him.  He represents their party.

I’m unaware that there is an effort on the part of everyday GOP voters to stop the disintegration of their party into a place where scared white racists go to bathe their fears.

Where is the GOP outrage?

The BURN is deep on this…

Donald Trump uses lawyers gratuitously to shut up his critics.  He sent one of his lawyers after Jeb Bush’s Leadership PAC.  This turned out to be a mistake….  The following is excerpts from a letter was sent back to Trump’s lawyer:

… In fact, RTR has made almost $300,000 in contributions since its creation in January 2015. Unlike your client, we only support conservative candidates.

It is possible you are confusing RTR with any number of federal independent expenditure-only committees (i.e. “Super PACs”) that have exercised their First Amendment rights to educate the public about your client’s public statements and stances on important public policy issues. We suggest you consult the Federal Election Commission’s (“FEC”) website (www.fec.gov) to familiarize yourself about the differences between Leadership PACs and Super PACs,

Should your client actually be elected Commander-in-Chief, will you be the one writing the cease and desist letters to Vladimir Putin, or will that be handled by outside counsel? As a candidate for President, your client is a public figure and his campaign should, and will, befact-checked. The ability to criticize a candidate’s record, policies and matters of public importance lies at the heart of the First Amendment, as courts have repeatedly recognized. If you have the time between bankruptcy filings and editing reality show contracts, we urge you to flip through the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times v. Sullivan. If your client is so thin-skinned that he cannot handle his critics’ presentation of his own public statements, policies and record to the voting public, and if such communications hurts his feelings, he is welcome to purchase airtime to defend his record. After all, a wall can be built around many things, but not around the First Amendment.

[emphasis is mine]

The beauty of this letter,  is it’s perfectly controlled intellectual condescension, which hits every note perfectly.  Bush is apparently smart enough to hire good people and has been raised to be what he is – a  career politician.

Trump – well neither of those things apply is the pleasantest way to put it.  And nothing could be more snidely implied in this letter.

Bush took his assets and jabbed them deeply between ribs of Trump’s fragile  ego.  I have to appreciate that.

I may never vote for him, but I find Bush far more tolerable as a potential leader than Trump or Cruz or nearly every other potential on the Republican board.   If for no other reason than a career politician understands the value of compromise.