The Third Way

You don’t have to be a democrat or republican, conservative, or liberal. Don’t be deceived into thinking the only choices are one or the other. You could choose both, or neither. You could be a lot one and little the other, or a little bit of each. You be could very disenchanted and disenfranchised by either option.

You could opt out of political tribalism. 

There were no political parties when our nation was founded. George Washington, our first and only independent president warned against them. Incidentally, all the negative fallout he predicted has happened as he predicted.

Our stubborn adherence to the two-party system has devasted our country. We have been experiencing our own contemporary version of civil (uncivil) war. Neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother. Red states, blue states. Sides must be chosen on every issue. 

If one side says it is black, the other must call it white. An opposite position must be assumed for the party to maintain any sort of relevance. So far, we are not killing each other, just name-calling, ridiculing, vilifying, and appealing to people’s very worse nature. 

The most extreme of the “other side” is always marched before us to stir up fear about “what they are doing to our country.” Both sides are equally guilty. It’s not a democrat or republican problem. It is a human problem.

The consequences of our tribalization are devasting.

Americans are hating each other over their political positions on any and every issue.

Legislators are not doing their job representing their constituents because the party position is more important to them, especially, if they want to be re-elected.

The gerrymandering of legislative districts has insured that democrat or republican districts will remain so.

Due to gerrymandering, the only person who can win a primary is someone with an even more extreme party position.

Legislators vilify their colleagues across the aisle rather negotiate with them, which is the only way legislation is advanced. Hence nothing gets done and country continues to fall behind in so many ways.

The other option is that party with power, no matter how narrow the margin, does what it wants without negotiation, because it can. When the other party regains power, they switch it back. The hatred continues to grow worse.

I can guarantee that each and every one of us is not right about everything and we all have something to learn. 

There are experiences and perspectives foreign to us that we do well to attempt to understand before we develop an opinion.

There are billions of dollars to be made from tribalism. Without it, the very nature of our political system would have to change. It is how political parties raise money and appeal to their base.

It also generates staggering income for cable news outlets and other partisan media. If they began saying something like we need to “find a way to get along and work together,” they would die. They are built upon fear, outrage, and pseudo patriotism. The goal is to keep you worried, riled up, and tuning in.

We have voided something that our nation was founded upon: civil discourse, i.e., people listening to each other, trying to understand each other, and treating each other with common (uncommon?) human decency. We have rejected the idea that we may not be right and that we might have something to learn. 

In our polarized, tribalized, extremist culture, there is no room for negotiation, nuance, or hearing other voices. But there is where the truth lies. That is the way forward. That is how we begin being neighbors again.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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