The political false dichotomy

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 19, 2012, 11:04 PM | comments: 0

Some would argue that as you get older, your political beliefs tend to swing one way or the other. While there may be some truth to that, the idealist in me would like to think you stop seeing things in black and white, as life experience teaches you that most things are a big gray area.

In this, an election year, the single most annoying thing that I can observe is that most people want the false dichotomy that suggests there are two choices. You're for or against, left or right, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, with me or against me, black or white (literally and figuratively).

So for example, the Internet offers no shortage of opportunities to engage in political conversation. I've been critical of both presidential candidates, and also pointed out how stupid and irrelevant some of the "talking points" are. In every case, it's immediately assumed that I'm an advocate of the other guy. Ultimately, I vote for the dog catcher because I think he has a better shot at catching dogs, not because of the color of his tie.

That's one of the strange things I find about that gray area. I would think that most people would be swing voters, and not self identify with a particular party. This year, I find it hard to understand how anyone can be so passionate about either candidate enough to campaign for them.

The excellent thing about not being too wrapped up in either side, even if you have already voted (as I have), is that you can cut through a lot of the bullshit and emotional hyperbole and get to actual issues. I can't even tell you how liberating that is. Most people can't tell you what they like or dislike about either guy's policy, but instead focus on matters of personal history or even more ridiculousness like the whole "birther" and communist stuff.

Certainly the political ads don't help (having a DVR, I never see them), but imagine a world where people spent less time trying to create division over things that don't matter and actually discussed policy. Imagine a world where people actually had enough clarity to vote on issues instead of personality. Sadly, I don't think this world can exist if people can't turn off their fucking TV's, but again, my inner idealist believes it's possible anyway.


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