I see a mindset that is very prevalent with friends and strangers alike, and on both sides of the partisan divide.
The simplistic way to say it is that they will ignore the atrocities of their favored candidate because that candidate says things they like and supports something they like. They will ignore things like murder, fraud, war, violations of rights, lies, and everything else, provided their candidate gives them something they want, or says things they like.
Here’s a question: what atrocity would your favored candidate have to commit before you’d say that there is no lesser evil* anymore?
This question causes people to face the atrocities their candidate has committed, or if they don’t know, then to wonder what they might have done. Perhaps it even inspires them to find out. When they see that their candidate does things that are just as reprehensible as the other, it causes a cognitive dissonance, and the beginnings of a realization that forgiving those atrocities due to a pet issue might just expose their own hypocrisy and immorality, perhaps even inhumanity.
People spend years invested in the idea that their team is better, even if just a little, than the other. “Well at least my candidate didn’t…”. Yeah, but they did do some things that you would consider pretty evil if the other guy did them. So, why forgive it in your own candidate for ANY reason?
It’s tough to break away from that “my team, their team” mindset when we’re conditioned with it from birth and we consistently reinforce it through what information sources we choose to use and what propaganda we continually ingest. Each side is pushing the message that “We may have our faults, but THOSE guys are just pure evil!”
What if someone asked you “Which is your favorite evil?” When you say there’s a lesser one, that’s the question you’re really answering. You’re still supporting evil.
Plus, most people who still pick a side listen to what their candidate says, because it gives them warm fuzzies, but they pay very little attention to what they do. Most of the worst atrocities aren’t on the evening news, so they usually don’t even know what they are. However, the more one informs themselves, or becomes informed by others, the harder it becomes to maintain that “lesser evil” mindset. It becomes a lot more uncomfortable and this is the point where most will just shut down and stop thinking about it and just stubbornly maintain their position.
I figure, if you’re getting something you want, but you’re willing to forgive things like killing innocent civilians, or defrauding the poor of what little they have, or wreaking destruction on the environment, or signing away your freedoms, or anything else you’d consider morally bankrupt, then you become somewhat complicit. A vote for them is a vote for those atrocities, by default.
Those few things they do that you like is what buys them the ability to do unconscionable things. As long as people hear what they like to hear, they’ll stand up for their candidate. As long as people get their way on something, they’ll turn a blind eye to horrific things. That, I think, is evil.
Rather than accepting what choices we are given for candidates, we should set the bar higher. Any candidate who commits certain atrocities should have no one’s vote, no matter what else they may say or do. They should not even be considered qualified to run for office. That does kind of rule out just about every Senator and Congressperson as well as most other politicians, and it should. We should expect more, because as long as we vote for any evil, we will have evil. We should not settle for it. Let’s set the bar higher so that we never again have to hold our nose at the voting booth, and can vote with a clean conscience.
Sadly, one could be forgiven for saying that is wishful thinking. But should it be? Should we accept that as our reality? Or, instead of hoping for better choices, should we drop this political system once and for all? How about we stop supporting it and start supporting another way that does not make us dependent on a broken system? Let’s do something else. Ignore the politicians and start helping each other directly. Stop taking part in any evil whether through action or vote. Face our heretofore hypocrisy (I have some of my own), recognize what we’ve been feeding, and turn it around into supporting something worthwhile.
If we did this, then we could create those things we want without having to accept the evil that has until now come with it. We could have better, truly universal health care without also indirectly supporting drone strikes or warrantless wiretapping. We could fix our streets and maintain our infrastructure without paying taxes that go to things we abhor.
Even if all one has is the ability to come up with good ideas, other people can implement them. We have the ability and potential to make a humane, compassionate, reasonable, balanced, safe, fair and just system. All we need is ideas and action. A basic framework that simply works due to good design, regardless of anyone’s personal ideologies.
Whatever personal politics may ensue, at least they will no longer be partisan. If we recognize each other as all on the same team, doing what we can to help each other, then the old divisiveness becomes irrelevant.
But it won’t come about by trying to patch up a system that’s rotten to the core. Nor do we need to tear down that one. Just stop feeding it and start feeding one you do want. Then the old one can’t help but die of malnutrition. If we don’t feed it, it will fade. We don’t need a revolution, we need a renaissance. When this concept is part of the culture, the culture will change. So, for now, all we can do is reinforce it and stop reinforcing the current system.
Instead of talking about our current politicians and politics, we could talk about ideas on how we could do it better. Talk solutions, not issues. Start collecting these ideas, and get them out there. Keep giving them our attention and energy and starve the current system of our attention. Keep injecting national conversations with better ideas of how to do things rather than talking about who or what to blame for our problems.
Of course, we must, for the time being, pay certain bills, do certain work etc. to maintain shelter and food and other necessities. However, when we’re not doing those specific things, we can build the new system on the side. Wean ourselves slowly off the current one.
Stop asking for permission or waiting for the gov’t. They are as dependent on the old system as we have been. They won’t solve our problems.
With community gardens, we’d give less money to chain supermarkets. With trade for fixing things, we’d give less money to other large chain stores (for instance, having a computer savvy person fix your computer for trade of something else, or even for pay, rather than taking it to Best Buy).
You’ve heard of DIY (Do It Yourself). Together it could be DIO (Do It Ourselves)! We work together to provide the supplies and services we all need. Just replace the current infrastructure bit by bit, gradually, with better ideas and better designs and better systems that do not create a vast disparity of health, wealth or anything else.
It will take time for this transition to take place, but if we don’t start, then we’ll never have something better.
*For clarification: the word “evil” as used in this article, refers to acts that cause massive physical, financial, and/or environmental harm or destroy rights specifically guaranteed to us in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It has nothing to do with religious morality.
© 2015 William Suphan
- You Think You Got It Bad?
- Symbiotic Economy