Over the nearly 15 years I have written this column, I have been repeatedly castigated as either a liberal or a conservative. It used to be amusing. Now it’s just tedious.
Ideological idiots insist that everyone has to be either liberal or conservative. You are either with them or against them. Listening to the constant cacophony of ideological rantings, one would think that in the entire universe there are but two perspectives on any issue — liberal or conservative, each conveniently programmed and packaged. But then, Americans do love convenience.
The main arena for the contest between intransigent ideologies is Congress, which has become less a legislative body than a forum for political propaganda preached by grandstanding gasbags who have virtually ground the gears of government to a halt. Rarely do we hear practical solutions to problems or rational policy proposals being civilly discussed. Political discourse sounds more like adolescent name-calling than dignified debate. Even the U.S. Supreme Court appears to be caught up in ideological idiocy.
Nowhere is ideological vitriol focused more intensely than on the presidency. While the left’s nastiness toward the hated George W. Bush was tempered by the common pain of 9/11, the right began a mercilessly unrelenting barrage of scornful criticism against Barack Obama as soon as he took the oath of office. In this unseemly competition of insult, hostility and disrespect toward a sitting president, the trophy goes to the right. Obama must have skin thicker than rhinoceros hide. Still, I bet he is looking forward to January 2017 as much as are the Republicans.
It can seem as if the entire nation has chosen sides, convinced of the moral and intellectual superiority of their beliefs and of the deficiency and depravity of the other side. Calumnies, sophistries, exaggerations, fact bending and outright lies are volleyed back and forth over an ever lower net of civility.
An analysis by fact-checking site PunditFact found that 60 percent of comments made by right-leaning Fox News, and 46 percent of those made by left-leaning MSNBC are mostly false or outright fabrications. Such unfair and unbalanced reporting pleases partisan audiences that are more interested in confirming their ideological beliefs than in truth or open-minded, objective thinking.
Are American politics so elementary that one simply need choose one pre-packaged doctrine or the other? I’d like to believe that most Americans don’t think along such simplistic dichotomous lines. It is disturbing, however, to observe otherwise intelligent people clinging tenaciously to political dogma and slinging harsh recriminations at anyone from the “other side.”
The ideologues may be a minority but they are zealously active, and have effectively commandeered political thought and debate in this country. By reducing politics to two fiercely opposing ideologies, duopoly politicians have leveraged anger and angst to perpetuate their hold on office and cater to their special interest clientele, especially those who finance election campaigns. Real issues and critical problems are buried under a constant barrage of character assassinations and platitudinous didactics.
This sorry situation will not be corrected until and unless rational Americans get off their asses and vote in ways virtually unheard of in American politics. Imagine, if independent candidates starting winning elections for major offices. I know, most Americans believe that voting other than Democrat or Republican is a wasted vote. But, really, could your vote be any more wasted than it has been for what we have now — clowns on the left and jokers on the right?
The duopoly ideologues regard independents as apathetic, uninformed and insipid. Any who can’t be converted by Election Day are expected to stay home. But, being politically independent doesn’t mean that one is unconcerned, unenlightened or indecisive. Independents are often objective, open-minded and committed to common sense. They have no allegiance to some party agenda or doctrine that demands unquestioning loyalty. This means that ideas from anywhere along the political spectrum can be considered and embraced if they make sense. Competing ideas can be reconciled and adjusted.
The difficulty for independents is finding authentic independent candidates. Such candidates typically have far less campaign funding than the clowns and jokers, and get far less media attention. But they are out there.
Such common-sense candidates wouldn’t need to waste time on personal attacks to win elections. It should be obvious by now that the clowns and jokers they are running against are irrational fanatics, moral reprobates, incompetents and tools of special interests. Independent candidates need only identify and examine the most crucial problems and issues facing the nation, and focus attention on finding solutions and rational courses of action.
Think about government filled with a bunch of independents who owe allegiance to no one but you, who want to work together to solve problems, who are willing to compromise for the greatest good for the greatest number.
All you need do is break your addiction to Democrats and Republicans — the clowns and jokers.