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The Tone of American Political Discussion
#36
Quote:

Originally Posted by wd40 View Post
 

I've seen the claim that many people have seen their insurance increase because of the ACA. That's either the insurance company being a dick, or something else is amiss. I don't know a single person in reality whose insurance increased by any more than it usually has as each year passes.



In regards to your other point. I desperately want to give the "other side" the benefit of the doubt. I'm a huge proponent of philosophizing and debating and coming to mutual agreements. I try to approach every person with that attitude. However, as of late, I've seen a huge increase in the number of people that I thought were level-headed, moderate-ish Republicans come out as terrifyingly psychotic. It seems to go hand in hand with Trump's run. I thought my father in law was a reasonable Republican for years. We didn't agree on a lot, but we often found some ground to agree on. However, I've just learned from him:



"All Muslims are terrorists."


"All Mexicans should be shipped back to Mexico."


"Obama is a psychopathic, bleeding-heart liberal."


"Global warming is complete bullshit."



Et cetera. I've known this man for 15 years now. While his stance on taxes, foreign policy, and more general social issues were well-known to me, this revelation had me slack-jawed. This man finally had the chance to voice what he's been thinking for years, and it was because a candidate for the highest office in the US was saying it. He told me that Trump was not his candidate of choice, but he will gladly for him. "Cruz is the best man for the job."



This isn't even to make something else about Trump. It's that these allegedly "moderate Republicans" are coming out of the friggin' closet as super-Conservatives. I don't understand why they are so goddamn scared. I get that they are, I just don't want.



I badly want to believe that moderate Republicans make up a majority of the party -- so much, but I just don't see it.


Was it unfair to necessarily blame the ACA for increase in my insurance costs?  Perhaps.  Shenanigans on the part of the insurance companies themselves is certainly a very possible explanation.  Either way, there's not much recourse.



As to your points about the Republicans, what's described there legitimately scares me.  I haven't encountered too many Trump/Cruz supporters in person (the two candidates favored by most in my social circle - irrespective of party - are Rubio and Sanders), so I guess I was assuming they were pandering to the wings and wouldn't catch on with the party faithful as a whole.  That may have been a serious miscalculation on my part, and the fringe-y wings may be larger than I was hoping they were, even factoring in the idea that the more moderate voices tend to either be drowned out by the nutcases or don't speak up at all.

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#37
ABelloq: to go back to your original observation/concern about the tone (tooone) of recent political discourse (without becoming an example of it here-- ahem), I wouldn't fret too much about it if I were you. Go back to the broadsides and pamphlets of the 18th and 19th century for some really nasty stuff. Or remember that our republic's second Vice President shot its first Treasury Secretary to death. Or that a member of Congress once beat another with a cane on the Senate floor (not sure I'd be averse to bringing that one back...) Or also that we once had a Civil War (and it doesn't get much more uncivil than that). There's nothing new under the sun.

It may seem that there is more uncivility these days-- but, given technology, there's more of everything, really. It is true that it used to be taught that courteous people did not discuss politics or religion, for good and obvious reasons. And the anonymity of the internet has allowed that-- and many other courtesies besides-- to fall by the board. It may also be that some of that is seeping into Real Life these days, which is perhaps why every recent holiday season you can see instructional articles and blog posts on "How to be an Obnoxious Twat With Your Tedious Political Opinions at Your Next Family Get-Together".

It's worth keeping in mind that politics is not only ideological (which may or may not be the result of rational analysis) and transactional (the result of rational self-interest) but tribal as well. In ages past the People on THIS Side of the Hill would war with the People on THAT Side of the Hill for the basics like space and resources, but along with that came a sense of personal gratification in thinking one's self Right and True, and indeed Righteous in comparison to the obvious character failings of the dude in the other tribe. These days for the most part, again thanks to technology, our Civilization no longer faces the day to day battle for survival, red in tooth and claw, yet none of those instincts have been bred out of us. Instead, they just animate things like soccer hooliganism, Marvel vs. DC nerd fights, social media mobs, and certain stripes of partisan politics.

Another feature is that we can to a certain degree choose our own tribe, and then pick up all the tribal signifiers that go along with it. In a pluralistic society, one can decide upon the position that best suits his personality, prejudices and priorities. Sometimes they may come to this by reason, but in my experience it's more often by circumstance and temperment. It's a well-worn statement that you can't reason someone out of a position he didn't reason himself into in the first place, and that's sadly true for many people, making them both unpersuadeable and unpersuasive.

Even those that will tell you that their arguments are based purely in "facts" are doing so as a sort of a tribal signifier, to distinguish themselves from some other pack of jokers who also think they have a monopoly on truth, who had it handed down to them on stone tablets or some shit. Thing is, though, that knowledge is diffuse, and on a human level necessarily incomplete. But for some folks, their identity is so wrapped up in in being Right and Righteous that the very existence of a counter view offends them on a personal level. The opposition must therefore be cast as stupid, evil, or stupid and also evil. And if they holler loud enough, they hopefully won't hear any competing ideas that threaten their certainty.

I'll put it another way: whatever side of the great political divide in our country you fall on, there is roughly half of the population out there who disagrees with you in some fundamental way. If you were actually to apply reason to this scenario, you couldn't possibly come to the conclusion that every single one of those people is both your moral and intellectual inferior. I'd humbly suggest that anyone who does ought to be kept as far away from the levers of power as possible.

I'll also be honest with you-- I'm an ideologue, and prone to exactly the kind of bad impulses I just tried to describe to you. I try, however, to be a little self-aware and realize that, while the fringes may sometimes frame the argument, it's the center that actually decides shit. As maddening as that sometimes is to someone like me, I recognize that it's actually the genius of our imperfect, but more perfect than anything else, system. My advice: maintain a skeptical mind, collect information as best you can, and act and vote according to that and your conscience. And don't concern yourself with other people's fucking tone-- you're only accountabke for yourself. Take comfort in the fact that, while others may be raging assholes about this stuff, you can continue not to be.
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#38
Quote:

Originally Posted by Slim View Post

Thank you for posting this.  Fair points, all.  I appreciate the perspective.  I think I certainly try to conduct myself well in political areas, and I guess I should be content with that rather than pulling my hair out over the actions of others.  A person can only truly control what he or she does.

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#39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloq87 View Post
 

There's way too much to respond to here, so I'll just say that I'm sorry to have offended you, and I'll keep my political opinions to myself from now on.


You didn't "offend" me. You expressed a sentiment that I find to be extremely annoying and wishy washy in today's political climate (the "mommy and daddy are fighting and it hurts my feelings" argument as a friend of mine likes to call it), but you didn't offend me. It takes a dumptruck's worth of stupidity to offend me, and this doesn't qualify as I don't know you enough at all mor did you say anything particularly egregious here for me to make any sort of call on your intelligence. 

This is also exactly the opposite of what I was trying to do (shut you down and "shame" you into silence). No one, least of all me, said you should keep quiet and keep your opinions to yourself from now on: YOU'RE the one saying that, and I'm actually against that. What I'd rather see people like you (people who fancy themselves legitimately moderate) do is get more politically ACTIVE and motivated.

Based on what you said, you seem to be presenting yourself as something of a center-right leaning person. All the more reason why rather than bemoaning the polarized nature of today's political climate, you should be coming out strongly AGAINST the super far-right wingnuts in the party you seem to be somewhat more in favor of. If you consider yourself to be a "sane and rational" Republican that's totally fine, but you've got a LOT of horrible bile coming from the Right end of the aisle that's more than worth speaking out against. Painting it as "Everyone on all sides is far too extreme" is a completely disingenuous false equivalence: there's NO ONE on the Left who's even REMOTELY as extreme as the current GOP. If you can take a good hard look at both sides and still claim that they're both equally too far gone and both equally part of the problem, THEN I'll call you stupid.

The point of my above rant was you should be a part of the solution rather than sit in a corner and cry about how testy and volatile the political fields have gotten. The reason they've gotten so volatile is entirely due to the far Right wing collectively losing their fucking minds and becoming further and further fascist and uber authoritarian. If there were a far Left equivalent, we'd be seeing countless Democrats who are in favor of total and complete governmental anarchy. We're seeing NOTHING even vaguely like that on the Left, and anyone who says we are is simply delusional and full of shit. Until Sanders, its largely just been a lot of wishy washy, center-right leaning weenies (who are also just as much on the corporate take as their Republican counterparts) who are weak debaters on the national stage and kowtow at the drop of a hat to even the tiniest bit of Republican fear mongering. The whole tenor of American politics the last 16 or so years has for the most part largely been one giant case of "high school bullies pushing around wimps".

If you want to say that the Left is a problem and just as culpable as the Right because they don't fight back hard enough against the Right's brand of batshit paranoid fascism, then sure I'll agree to that. But if all you have to say on the matter is "I don't like how loudly everyone around me is yelling", well that's a completely useless sentiment that comes across as pitiful whining more than anything else. If you don't like how crazed the tone of political discussion in this country has gotten and you're a Republican, you should be (in whatever even small way you can that is) fighting back against the complete and utter hate-filled bigotry and xenophobia of your own party and trying to pull it back towards a more reasonable, level-headed form of right-leaning political thinking.

Because the GOP has proven time and time and time and time again over the last decade and a half that absolutely NO amount of sincere pleading with them to be more calm, reasonable, civil, and rational will come even within a hairs breadth of swaying them away from their own lunacy. Continuing to pull the "can't we all just get along?" card over and over will not now nor ever accomplish jack shit if one side is so singularly committed to grinding their prejudice in everyone's faces and pushing the country every increasingly towards regressive, dark ages-like policies. One side keeps (futilely) extending a hand in bi-partisan friendship, the other side keeps responding by knocking it aside and punching them in the face: in that scenario, calling for more hand holding and mutual respect as the solution is absolutely ridiculous and idiotic.

What I'm saying is that the reason things are so tense right now is that one side has lost their minds and the other has lost their balls. Take a stand for something and be constructive in the fight against fear-mongering politics rather than sulk in a corner and marinate in self-pity about how out of control the whole thing's gotten.


Quote:
Originally Posted by commodorejohn View Post

Jaquio gets offended if you say that grimdark superhero comics are overrated. Don't let him keep you from speaking your mind.


I shouldn't even dignify this bullshit with a response, but fuck it.

Yes, way to let me have it by responding to a substantive post that (in spite of my having left these forums awhile back) I put a genuinely good degree of thought and effort into with little more than some cheap, petty personal insults. And not even any insults about my actual point in the post or my political leanings in general (the latter of which would still be cheap, but would at least be pertinent to the discussion at hand), but rather instead about some opinions I've expressed on some dumb, silly superhero movies more than a year or so ago. Yes there's nothing the least bit ad hominem about that at all.

I have no idea what it is that made my presence on these boards so egregiously offensive to certain folks awhile back, nor what it is about dissenting views on fucking stupid-ass superhero films that gets people's panties in such a twist in general. All I can say is this: either respond to my actual point, or don't. Either you have something genuinely worthwhile to contribute to the discussion at hand, or you do not: and if you do, by ALL means say it please. And if you don't, then simply piping in with dumb, gratuitous snark about petty, unrelated drivel from months and months back in totally unrelated threads does little more than make you look like a fucking asshole with some sort of a personal ax to grind. So don't be an asshole: say something of actual substance instead.

And in case it wasn't apparent enough, I wasn't trying to keep belloq (or anyone else) from speaking his mind, and framing what I said as if I was is just patently false and pulled from thin air.

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#40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaquio View Post
 

You didn't "offend" me. You expressed a sentiment that I find to be extremely annoying and wishy washy in today's political climate (the "mommy and daddy are fighting and it hurts my feelings" argument as a friend of mine likes to call it), but you didn't offend me. It takes a dumptruck's worth of stupidity to offend me, and this doesn't qualify as I don't know you enough at all mor did you say anything particularly egregious here for me to make any sort of call on your intelligence. 

This is also exactly the opposite of what I was trying to do (shut you down and "shame" you into silence). No one, least of all me, said you should keep quiet and keep your opinions to yourself from now on: YOU'RE the one saying that, and I'm actually against that. What I'd rather see people like you (people who fancy themselves legitimately moderate) do is get more politically ACTIVE and motivated.

Based on what you said, you seem to be presenting yourself as something of a center-right leaning person. All the more reason why rather than bemoaning the polarized nature of today's political climate, you should be coming out strongly AGAINST the super far-right wingnuts in the party you seem to be somewhat more in favor of. If you consider yourself to be a "sane and rational" Republican that's totally fine, but you've got a LOT of horrible bile coming from the Right end of the aisle that's more than worth speaking out against. Painting it as "Everyone on all sides is far too extreme" is a completely disingenuous false equivalence: there's NO ONE on the Left who's even REMOTELY as extreme as the current GOP. If you can take a good hard look at both sides and still claim that they're both equally too far gone and both equally part of the problem, THEN I'll call you stupid.

The point of my above rant was you should be a part of the solution rather than sit in a corner and cry about how testy and volatile the political fields have gotten. The reason they've gotten so volatile is entirely due to the far Right wing collectively losing their fucking minds and becoming further and further fascist and uber authoritarian. If there were a far Left equivalent, we'd be seeing countless Democrats who are in favor of total and complete governmental anarchy. We're seeing NOTHING even vaguely like that on the Left, and anyone who says we are is simply delusional and full of shit. Until Sanders, its largely just been a lot of wishy washy, center-right leaning weenies (who are also just as much on the corporate take as their Republican counterparts) who are weak debaters on the national stage and kowtow at the drop of a hat to even the tiniest bit of Republican fear mongering. The whole tenor of American politics the last 16 or so years has for the most part largely been one giant case of "high school bullies pushing around wimps".

If you want to say that the Left is a problem and just as culpable as the Right because they don't fight back hard enough against the Right's brand of batshit paranoid fascism, then sure I'll agree to that. But if all you have to say on the matter is "I don't like how loudly everyone around me is yelling", well that's a completely useless sentiment that comes across as pitiful whining more than anything else. If you don't like how crazed the tone of political discussion in this country has gotten and you're a Republican, you should be (in whatever even small way you can that is) fighting back against the complete and utter hate-filled bigotry and xenophobia of your own party and trying to pull it back towards a more reasonable, level-headed form of right-leaning political thinking.

Because the GOP has proven time and time and time and time again over the last decade and a half that absolutely NO amount of sincere pleading with them to be more calm, reasonable, civil, and rational will come even within a hairs breadth of swaying them away from their own lunacy. Continuing to pull the "can't we all just get along?" card over and over will not now nor ever accomplish jack shit if one side is so singularly committed to grinding their prejudice in everyone's faces and pushing the country every increasingly towards regressive, dark ages-like policies. One side keeps (futilely) extending a hand in bi-partisan friendship, the other side keeps responding by knocking it aside and punching them in the face: in that scenario, calling for more hand holding and mutual respect as the solution is absolutely ridiculous and idiotic.

What I'm saying is that the reason things are so tense right now is that one side has lost their minds and the other has lost their balls. Take a stand for something and be constructive in the fight against fear-mongering politics rather than sulk in a corner and marinate in self-pity about how out of control the whole thing's gotten.


Though I reject your characterization of me as somehow being a Republican or a conservative (though I’m clearly to your right, I don’t know many who would self-identify as such while holding all of the following positions: pro choice, pro gay marriage, a believer in evolution as scientific fact, and accepting of climate change as a thing that is happening and that has been - at the very least - influenced by human activity; those probably should be mainstream positions that could be held even by people on the right, but that's not the world we live in at the moment), I understand what you’re getting at and I appreciate the clarification.



I don’t agree with all of it, obviously, but your major point about a person (in this case me) getting off his ass and doing something instead of whining about the state of things is very well taken.  I didn’t see this thread as being a venue for whining (I just wanted to see if other people had noticed something that had been nagging at me), but I get that it came across that way to some, and I will concede that my time (and anyone's time, really) would be better spent actually trying to make things better instead of just talking about how bad things are.



And as for the inference that you might have been trying to shut me up, I apologize for that.  It was a sentiment written in the heat of the moment when a more thoughtful response on my part would have been appropriate.  It was a childish “I’m taking my ball and going home” reaction that I regret.

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#41
AI agree with Jaquio's general premise, but I don't care for all the browbeating. I don't know what superhero fight you're all referring to, but there's better ways to articulate what you're saying here, ways that don't start with 'YOU'RE the real problem in America!' I can appreciate the sentiment that the Left's problem is a lack of balls and pretending the approaches are equal is totally false. That was the whole problem with Jon Stewart's disappointing DC rally some years back. By trying to so hard to be genial, they ended up being nothing at all.

But being a prick isn't just ineffective, it's counter productive. Look at the atheist movement nowadays. Those tactics aren't working. Sure, it's easier to get your mind opened in college, but I think that's more to do with the March of progress shining an inevitable light on stuff that used to be brushed away much more easily. The actual atheist intelligencia is more or less just entrenching religious types and making them feel persecuted. Because all they're doing is calling everyone stupid. When you open with that, it doesn't matter if you have facts on your side afterwards.

I don't have a solution to this. But angry, accusatory rants just push people farther apart, even when they're correct.
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#42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloq87 View Post
 

Though I reject your characterization of me as somehow being a Republican or a conservative (though I’m clearly to your right, I don’t know many who would self-identify as such while holding all of the following positions: pro choice, pro gay marriage, a believer in evolution as scientific fact, and accepting of climate change as a thing that is happening and that has been - at the very least - influenced by human activity; those probably should be mainstream positions that could be held even by people on the right, but that's not the world we live in at the moment), I understand what you’re getting at and I appreciate the clarification.



I don’t agree with all of it, obviously, but your major point about a person (in this case me) getting off his ass and doing something instead of whining about the state of things is very well taken.  I didn’t see this thread as being a venue for whining (I just wanted to see if other people had noticed something that had been nagging at me), but I get that it came across that way to some, and I will concede that my time (and anyone's time, really) would be better spent actually trying to make things better instead of just talking about how bad things are.



And as for the inference that you might have been trying to shut me up, I apologize for that.  It was a sentiment written in the heat of the moment when a more thoughtful response on my part would have been appropriate.  It was a childish “I’m taking my ball and going home” reaction that I regret.


I think his point is that in our current political climate, anyone that's to the right of the mainstream Democratic party is automatically a conservative in the grand scheme of things.  Which is pretty much accurate.  The US skews pretty deep red compared to (most of) the rest of the civilized world right now.



But as noted above...don't feel too terrible about the climate of political discourse...it really hasn't changed all that much, and it's always used the media of the day to fling its' vitriol in both directions.  Go all the way back to the Federalists and Anti-Federalists and you'll see plenty of hateful mudslinging.  Heck, even the Revolution itself was partially pushed forward by pretty vicious and hyperbolic anti-British propaganda.  Hateful political rhetoric is pretty much in our national DNA (and in plenty of other nations too, to be fair...at least ours doesn't usually involve people killing each other over it.  Except for those times it has).

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#43
AYou want a response to your post, Jaquio? Fine: your post is a clear illustration of exactly the kind of behavior the OP was complaining about. No matter how much you berate your mortal enemies for being pure awfulness and hatred and probably raping puppies on the orders of Satan, you are displaying very similar behavior to the radical contingent of the Republican base, in that you're stomping around in what is intended to be a forum for civil political discourse going YEAH FUCK THOSE GUYS and you don't see anything wrong with that because by (God equivalent), you're on the side of Right! Who cares about being the better man? Who needs politeness and decency? This is ideological war! I remember seeing this exact attitude twelve or thirteen years ago when people were running around seriously equating George W. Bush with fucking Adolf Hitler, and even back then I knew it was the end of civil discourse. When the Democratic equivalent of Donald Trump inevitably crawls out of some hole (2020? 2024?) it'll be people like you that are massing at the rallies.
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#44
A[quote name="Arjen Rudd" url="/community/t/155186/the-tone-of-american-political-discussion#post_4015424"]I agree with Jaquio's general premise, but I don't care for all the browbeating. I don't know what superhero fight you're all referring to, but there's better ways to articulate what you're saying here, ways that don't start with 'YOU'RE the real problem in America!' I can appreciate the sentiment that the Left's problem is a lack of balls and pretending the approaches are equal is totally false. That was the whole problem with Jon Stewart's disappointing DC rally some years back. By trying to so hard to be genial, they ended up being nothing at all.

But being a prick isn't just ineffective, it's counter productive. Look at the atheist movement nowadays. Those tactics aren't working. Sure, it's easier to get your mind opened in college, but I think that's more to do with the March of progress shining an inevitable light on stuff that used to be brushed away much more easily. The actual atheist intelligencia is more or less just entrenching religious types and making them feel persecuted. Because all they're doing is calling everyone stupid. When you open with that, it doesn't matter if you have facts on your side afterwards.

I don't have a solution to this. But angry, accusatory rants just push people farther apart, even when they're correct.[/quote]

Just so. I'm not a believer, but I wouldn't associate myself with capital - A atheists for exactly that kind of thing. For a lot of them, they can't just leave that in a box for a while either-- it gets brought up no matter the context or occasion. And that's Churchill ' s definition of a fanatic: someone who won't change his mind and won't change the subject.

There's a fair bit of that going on here. Given the subject about tone generally, there's a lot of specific soapboxing and browbeating Belloq because he isn't sufficiently frothing at the mouth.

And on that, Belloq-- you seem like a nice guy and not being confrontational is rather the point here. But for Christ's sake don't apologize when you're the guy being insulted.
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#45

Quote:



Originally Posted by Jaquio View Post

I have no idea what it is that made my presence on these boards so egregiously offensive to certain folks awhile back,



Oh, I have a pretty good idea.

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#46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slim View Post

There's a fair bit of that going on here. Given the subject about tone generally, there's a lot of specific soapboxing and browbeating Belloq because he isn't sufficiently frothing at the mouth.

And on that, Belloq-- you seem like a nice guy and not being confrontational is rather the point here. But for Christ's sake don't apologize when you're the guy being insulted.

I really appreciate this, but I'm just trying to keep this thread from devolving into shouting matches.  People can challenge my premise, that's fine, but my reaction to that is not going to be to engage in the thing I was decrying in my first post.  I'm not asking everyone to agree with me (how boring would that be?), I simply wanted to get the opinions of others on the topic at hand.



If we (all of us, as a whole) can't keep it polite and respectful in here, then I'll suggest the thread be abandoned or locked.  I don't think we're there yet, but we're getting closer than I'd like.

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#47

It's funny but also sad how many Chewers posted in this thread words to the effect that "Everyone to The Right (which apparently is most everyone) is a Psychopath!" why want' they be like meeeee". Total lack of awareness that if you want to discuss Tone in Political Discussion, that demonizing and santomoniousness IS the problem.

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#48
AThis is what brought Jaquio back in? Not Deadpool? I'm amazed.
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#49
A[quote name="Cylon Baby" url="/community/t/155186/the-tone-of-american-political-discussion/30#post_4015454"]It's funny but also sad how many Chewers posted in this thread words to the effect that "Everyone to The Right (which apparently is most everyone) is a Psychopath!" why want' they be like meeeee". Total lack of awareness that if you want to discuss Tone in Political Discussion, that demonizing and santomoniousness IS the problem. 
[/quote]

While the majority of the folks in the GOP car are decent folks, the people driving that car most assuredly have an authoritarian worldview.

Out of curiosity Cylon, what should be the political path foward ?
Should progressive minded individuals remain silent when confronted with conservative ignorance?
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#50
Quote:

Originally Posted by VTRan View Post


Out of curiosity Cylon, what should be the political path foward ?


Obviously, we liberals should remain high-minded and above the fray whilst Trump's audience goons beat and kick out dissenters.

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#51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
 

It's funny but also sad how many Chewers posted in this thread words to the effect that "Everyone to The Right (which apparently is most everyone) is a Psychopath!" why want' they be like meeeee". Total lack of awareness that if you want to discuss Tone in Political Discussion, that demonizing and santomoniousness IS the problem.


"Psychopath" is a bit of hyperbole and pretty much ends all rational discussion if used to refer to a group... but I do see a real disconnect in the discussion within my own family (I was raised by 2 democrats but have an extended family of 90+ cousins/aunts/uncles, all republican or libertarian) that has at least a tangential connection to that term, and why I think it gets tossed around in heated moments:  the issue is Empathy.



In a very fundamental way, there are those who believe that if we're going to have ANY government at all (so basically anything other than pure anarchy) then it should provide some very basic, basic functions, and they disagree down to their bones about what those basic functions should be.  For a government to do anything, it needs some kind of pooled resources, which can only come from a tax of some kind, or the equivalent by any other name.  Some way for folks to pool their resources to do together what they could not do individually.  So far so good.


The problem comes when you then ask:  "OK, what exactly are these basic things that Government (be it local or state or federal) should do?"



To some, the answer seems obvious and is generally summed up by the following:



The roads should be paved.  The air should be clean.  The water should be safe to drink.  The sick should not be refused medical care if the resources exist to treat their illness and they desire treatment. The elderly should not become homeless when they no longer have an income.  Children should receive schooling regardless of their birth status (so an orphan should have the same opportunities as a child with healthy parents). 



To others, the answer seems equally obvious and is generally summed up by the following:



The roads should be paved.  The land and the persons within its borders should be protected.  The practice of free trade and exchange of capital for goods and services should be unimpeded.  The freedom of the individual to use their earnings as they see fit should not be infringed upon except where the pooling of resources is needed to ensure the first 2 items. 



These are such fundamentally different views of what even the most basic functions of a government (ANY government) should be, that to attack one's political affiliation is really now an attack on the person themselves, on their most deep seated views of the world and their way of existing in the world.  It's almost impossible NOT to take it personally.



So, to Empathy:



If you strip away all of the layers of argument both for and against the various forms of social safety nets that exist in the US and elsewhere in the world, at the bottom is a fundamental reality of the form of economy that's currently practiced here on Earth:



You need money to eat. 



If you lose your job, or you run out of savings, you need to be given money in some form in order to continue to eat.  Whether that comes in the form of a check from the government, a gift from your family, a property tax forgiveness from the government that allows you to farm on your own land despite no income, in some way you need to be given money in order to avoid dying of starvation. 



This is so fundamental that it's taken for granted, or shrugged off as a natural, universal Way Things Are.  My point is that depending on which of the two worldviews above you ascribe to, how you approach this issue is going to be both emotionally charged, and very, very different.



It is a widespread viewpoint that guaranteed incomes as practiced in some countries, or welfare, disability and social security as well as Medicare, Medicaid, the ACA, and the host of other social safety nets currently practiced in the US contribute to or reward "laziness."  This view takes as an axiom that ultimately people need the threat of abject poverty in order to be motivated to work.  This might be true; I've never faced the prospect of homelessness or the need to rely on a safety net so I don't believe the need to eat has been a prime mover for me yet in life.



Answering this question is something these two camps spend a lot of time on, even if it doesn't seem like that's what they're arguing about.  I'd suggest that the answer to whether or not people truly need the threat of homelessness to go seek a job or not, and whether or not being able to feed yourself and your family without having to work makes you lazy, is the wrong way to talk about the real philosophical argument these camps need to have is, and it's the reason that Empathy gets invoked:



If someone is unable to work, is that punishable by death?  It seems like a weird question, but it's really an incredibly fundamental one that goes to the heart of who we are as a people.  Both camps say "no, of course not, that's absurd" and the First Camp will immediately offer a solution:  This is one of the fundamental Functions of Government!  To make sure individuals who had been paying tax to the Government do not die of starvation or exposure to the elements simply because they cannot work and generate income.  So the Government will provide the resources to ensure these things don't happen.



The Second Camp also says "no, of course not, that's absurd"... but the solution to this problem is not so clear.  Because this is a problem for an individual.  And the idea of pooling resources to provide food and shelter to this individual is not one of the fundamental Functions of Government.  In fact, if resources were pooled to provide food and shelter for every individual in such a circumstance, the earnings of those still able to generate income would no longer be garnered only for the pavement of the roads and the defense of the people and land, but now those who work would see a (perhaps significant) portion of their earnings go to feed, shelter, and clothe their countrymen who cannot do work.  Or perhaps could, but do not wish to.  Or could, but would be unable to earn enough to match what they receive from the pooled resources of those who work, and so no motivation exists to work.  And so we have a problem.



The Second Camp sees this chain of possible events and says "You see?  This is unworkable.  It breeds resentment and puts an enormous burden on those who can work.  The only solution is for individuals to fend for themselves, and for folks to save for a rainy day as best they are able."



The First Camp sees this as callous disregard for their fellow man.  To turn a blind eye to the sick who cannot pay, the elderly who made the mistake of living too long and so have run out of savings (more and more likely today), to the disabled who cannot work or the low wage earner who is never able to save enough to retire at all, seems completely at odds with their worldview of who we are as a people.   The Second Camp sees the first as naïve and idealistic with too much faith in the ability of Government to provide the things they want it to.  The Second Camp balks at the accusations of being uncaring or unfeeling towards the less fortunate, and often practice individual charitable giving as a direct way of giving to causes for the less fortunate because this is fully in keeping with the principle of individuals being able to exercise absolute choice over where their money goes, and those who wish to help their fellow countrymen can then give to them directly.



But fundamentally, at the bottom of all argument and all obfuscation, the Second Camp believes that if you run out of money, then it is up to your friends and your family to ensure you don't starve to death.  This SHOULD NOT be a function of the Government.  The First Camp believes that this not only SHOULD be a function of government, it is one of the most primal, basic functions of any self-organizing society. 



Until we figure out which of these people we are, or until we stop needing money to eat, we will continue to have this argument, just buried under a thousand other different arguments that obfuscate the bedrock disconnect.

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#52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Analog Olmos View Post
 



But fundamentally, at the bottom of all argument and all obfuscation, the Second Camp believes that if you run out of money, then it is up to your friends and your family to ensure you don't starve to death.  This SHOULD NOT be a function of the Government.  The First Camp believes that this not only SHOULD be a function of government, it is one of the most primal, basic functions of any self-organizing society. 





There's a lot to unpack in your excellent post, but I'll focus on this to talk about how deeply rooted concepts of morality play a huge role in this.



In your synopsis above, Camp 2 believes that we are our brother's keepers. Not some faceless bureaucracy and not via some "one size fits all" program or programs.



That implies that there has to be a powerful social network, of Churches, businesses, extended families etc. And that all those entities should, to coin a phrase, "be in your business". Think of the Church that has a Homeless shelter, but requires that the homeless attend Mass. Or the family member who will take you in when you are jobless, but you have to pay them rent, do chores, attend AA etc.



There's a lot to be said for this: it implies a personal touch: someone knows or gets to know you and your problems and helps you sort your shit out. It also requires the shouldering of that responsibility by members of society. By "outsourcing" that function to the Government, we in effect wash our hands of responsibility for our fellow man (and I would argue that it's a slippery slope from sending X tax dollars to some nameless entities that are supposed to help the poor, whom we know as an abstraction, to simply saying "fuck that I want to keep my money").



Camp 1 would point to the problem of scale: there are so many people homeless in this country, no informal organizations could take care of them. Also, many of the problems faced by the homeless are complicated by drugs, mental illness, emotional issues, and frankly in the US, issues of Class and Race. (and in the case of the later, many minority groups are poor as a statistical group, making it even more problematic that they could support the down and out). The problems are too large for any one group in society to deal with them. And it's not fair to society as a whole, and especially not fair to struggling minorities, to expect them to shoulder all sorts of burdens they are not necessarily equipped with in addition to the problems of basic survival.



With regards to the place of Work in society: The Protestant Work Ethic is still a real thing, and many people in Camp 2 will tell you that work is ennobling in and of itself. My personal experience is that my parents paid for my Undergrad degree, and despite getting a high GPA I was a lackadaisical student with no real focus or idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Getting that degree and realizing I had to pay my own way was a shock and a wake up call. But it led me to go to Grad School (paying my own way via part time jobs and Student loans) with a very clear focus on what I wanted to be (It didn't turn out the way I thought it would, but that's another story).



Having ones own "work" whatever that may be, gives one a sense of responsibility, self confidence and restraint, and gives one "stakes" in society. If a large number of people don't have this, if they are "on the Dole", they have no stake in anything other than making sure their benefits keep rolling in. Or they become active enemies of society, gaming the system to their benefit, or demanding that "the rich" have their wealth confiscated, or simply becoming criminals.


Camp 2 would respond that, especially now, there's a large group of people who simply cannot find work, or such work as they do find is the opposite of ennobling. Again if you are a minority, you will (statistically speaking) find it harder to get a good job. If you got the wrong degree, got busted for having a joint on you, are "too old" etc etc you are Blackballed out of the work force.



Larger trends in society (the increasing Mechanization of work, the failure of the school system etc) are creating more groups of people who will not have a better life, or maybe any life, compared to their parents, and Government has to deal with that, out of compassion or (as the originator of Social Welfare, Otto von Bismark would have put it) "Realpolitik". (< in other words, give the poor enough to keep their bellies full or sure as shit they will come after those that have to take it).



Sorry for the simplistic analysis. There's much more to all these arguments, and a lot nuance that I don't think an Internet Chat Board will be able to address.

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#53

Olmos, I think casting it as an either/or proposition is a false choice. The devil is in the details. By making it such a simple choice and saying a person either has empathy or does not, you take away the discussion of the finer points.



Quote:


The roads should be paved.  The air should be clean.  The water should be safe to drink.  The sick should not be refused medical care if the resources exist to treat their illness and they desire treatment. The elderly should not become homeless when they no longer have an income.  Children should receive schooling regardless of their birth status (so an orphan should have the same opportunities as a child with healthy parents).



I think most people would agree with this sentiment to some degree. But it is not by any means so simple. Does your statement on medical rights extend to viagra for the elderly? Does paved roads mean a bullet train connecting two districts of politicians that have been bought and paid for? Does clean air mean regulating business to the point it fails? To what standard are the elderly entitled to live if they have not saved for retirement? Is it more moral to pay for my neighbor's child's braces than my own child's college education?  These types of questions are real and valid. Given the governments propensity for waste and inefficiency, is it really wrong to feel that paying more taxes does not necessarily mean a better world?



I am a firm believer that people are more productive when they are rewarded for their own hard work. I am also a believer that all the actions taken against the "rich" end up being taken against the middle class. It is classic bait and switch. So I worry at what point does confiscation and redistribution start to eat itself. The government taking a larger slice of an ever diminishing pie to feed the mob.



The old Tocqueville quote about the American Republic enduring until congress realizes they can bribe the public with their own money continues to resonate because it is easy to see where redistribution can go wrong. (I know there are many who say that Tocqueville never said that, but I think whether or not the quote is real or twisted, it expresses a sentiment that exists and should not be readily dismissed).



As one of the people that has worked full time for the past 30 plus years, pays my taxes and generally tries to be a good person, I can tell you that I do have these questions and want them addressed before I accept the latest tax increase or program the government assures us will be paid for by the rich.



I can also tell you that from my experience, when a salesman makes an emotional appeal, or challenges your humanity, morals, social standing, ability to pay etc., it is generally because what he is trying to sell you isn't really a good deal.

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#54
Quote:
Originally Posted by commodorejohn View Post

You want a response to your post, Jaquio? Fine: your post is a clear illustration of exactly the kind of behavior the OP was complaining about. No matter how much you berate your mortal enemies for being pure awfulness and hatred and probably raping puppies on the orders of Satan, you are displaying very similar behavior to the radical contingent of the Republican base, in that you're stomping around in what is intended to be a forum for civil political discourse going YEAH FUCK THOSE GUYS and you don't see anything wrong with that because by (God equivalent), you're on the side of Right! Who cares about being the better man? Who needs politeness and decency? This is ideological war! I remember seeing this exact attitude twelve or thirteen years ago when people were running around seriously equating George W. Bush with fucking Adolf Hitler, and even back then I knew it was the end of civil discourse. When the Democratic equivalent of Donald Trump inevitably crawls out of some hole (2020? 2024?) it'll be people like you that are massing at the rallies.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd View Post

I agree with Jaquio's general premise, but I don't care for all the browbeating. I don't know what superhero fight you're all referring to, but there's better ways to articulate what you're saying here, ways that don't start with 'YOU'RE the real problem in America!' I can appreciate the sentiment that the Left's problem is a lack of balls and pretending the approaches are equal is totally false. That was the whole problem with Jon Stewart's disappointing DC rally some years back. By trying to so hard to be genial, they ended up being nothing at all.

But being a prick isn't just ineffective, it's counter productive. Look at the atheist movement nowadays. Those tactics aren't working. Sure, it's easier to get your mind opened in college, but I think that's more to do with the March of progress shining an inevitable light on stuff that used to be brushed away much more easily. The actual atheist intelligencia is more or less just entrenching religious types and making them feel persecuted. Because all they're doing is calling everyone stupid. When you open with that, it doesn't matter if you have facts on your side afterwards.

I don't have a solution to this. But angry, accusatory rants just push people farther apart, even when they're correct.


I'm not even touching Olmos' post for now simply because it was so masterfully stated and I don't think I have much of anything that's any more substantive to his point to add to it at this particular moment. 

But these two I'll bite on.

I think the problem I've had with politics for a very, very long time now is the general premise of "It doesn't matter what you say, but how you say it". To me, within a topic as crucially important to all of human life on this planet, I can't think of an idea that's any more insanely dangerous and intellectually stunting. 

Politics for a very long, long time in America now have been treated like some perverse combination of a sporting event, reality show, and a choice in fashion for people to wear as some sort of "status symbol". In that way, politics in America has over the years become increasingly trivialized as just another form of entertainment or otherwise shallow bit of pop cultural ephemera. And the reality is that politics couldn't POSSIBLY be more further from those things.

I'm shamelessly stealing this next line from a podcast I'd heard a long time ago, but its so perfectly descriptive of what I'm trying to get across here: You want a treatment for your life-and-death bypass surgery that won't bankrupt you into a homeless shelter afterwards? That's politics. Are you a person of color who wants to be treated with the same level of common decency and respect when you walk into a grocery store as any other person of any other color around you? That's politics. You want to see white collar criminals face justice for robbing an entire country's collective life savings blind rather than some silly teenagers facing ridiculously equivalent prison time simply for toking on a joint? That's politics.

You want to have clean and un-poisoned drinking water for yourself and your family without fear that the local utilities companies will taint the water supply with lead from shitty piping materials just to save a few extra pennies on their bottom line? That's politics. You want to see this planet continue to spin and be able to sustain human, animal, and vegetative life without things like toxic chemical spills and carbon emission poisoning completely eradicating everyone and everything in this world? That's politics. You want to see this world continue to flourish and be able to maintain a future for your children and grandchildren (or at the very least maybe your loved ones' children and grandchildren if not your own) without moneyed interests completely fucking them all over in the long run for a cheap few extra bucks for themselves in the short term? That's fucking politics.

Do ANY of these things sound like trivial matters to you (royal you to anyone here reading, not simply Rudd and commodorejohn) that can be easily dismissed? If so, well then fuck... I have no idea what else can really even be said after that.

I'd like to think however that most of us can all agree that these problems (and countless others within the current political sphere) are about as severe and life-altering as they come. And yet time and time and time and time again I come across people, so so so so very depressingly many people, who easily and thoughtlessly brush these sorts of things aside. Because they don't affect them personally and directly in the immediate now.

12 year old black child shot in the fucking throat and left to gurgle to death on his own blood in the middle of the street by police officers who are then allowed to get completely away with it without punishment by the corrupt judicial system? Eh, I'm not black and he wasn't my kid, not my problem.

The entire world will be well on its way to being completely unable to produce or sustain fresh fruits, vegetables, or even drinking water within roughly the next 80 to 100 years? Eh, I'll be dead by then, not my problem.

Tens of thousands of people within the wealthiest nation on Earth are being made to needlessly suffer and die for easily treatable illnesses purely due to a perversely incentivised insurance industry? Eh, I don't know any of 'em and I'm perfectly healthy and have never been sick, not my problem.

The entire housing market across the whole country is built on a system of legalized gambling and bribery that rewards a handful of real estate CEOs with hundreds of millions of dollars in stolen tax money and dishonest investments while leaving countless thousands upon thousands of regular, every day Joe and Jane Average people completely broke and living out of their cars? Eh, didn't happen to me thankfully, so not my problem.

This is the casual callousness (the "lack of empathy" that Olmos so wonderfully laid out earlier) that's REALLY at the heart of so very many of our problems within the current political climate. NOT a handful of liberals getting over heated and losing their cool with people about this stuff: because really its BARELY anyone on the liberal side who allows their bloodpressure to rise so much as a microfraction over this. Not even the completely unhinged fascism on the far right. That sort of thing can actually be fought against with critical thinking and factual information. No, the real problem is the droves upon droves upon droves upon droves of average people who are on NEITHER side and who aren't getting themselves educated about these things, nor are they getting invested and involved. Because "eh, its not my problem". 

Bullshit. Its ALL of our problems, and if they haven't affected you now, then just wait a moment. And even if by some miracle they somehow NEVER wind up affecting you (because you're leading that goddamned charmed of a life or what have you), I simply am unable to comprehend how any reasonably intelligent person can still sleep at night and look at themselves in the mirror the next morning without these things eating away at their soul to at least SOME small degree. 

What I'm getting at here is that ALL of these things that go on in our political system have consequences that directly affect real live flesh and blood people by the truckloads. This isn't a fucking game when these politicians get up on stage and argue. This can't keep continuing to be treated (like it has been for so long now) like its an episode of Survivor or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Real human lives are actually in the balance, and who runs the system will determine for many, many people out there whether or not they'll live or die. And these are people who, at the end of the day where it truly matters most, are totally not very much unlike you and/or other people you know. They very well even COULD be you or other people you know who are next to be affected by these decisions. 

There was a time, many many many generations ago, where it was seen as a person's civic duty to their fellow common man to be at least PASSINGLY educated on and active in politics within their country. It meant that they were engaged, that they genuinely gave a shit about the homeland they were living in and that they were greatly prospering within. We haven't lived within a time like that for a very long time how, and we're seeing the horrible, horrible consequences of that kind of disengaged apathy from the masses within the total rot of the political system as its existed in the modern day.

As has been stated ad nauseam by our political leaders, we have an incredible and blessed amount of freedom within our system and society: but the thing about freedom is that, ironically, it doesn't come for free. Freedom comes with responsibility in order to maintain it, and that responsibility is ALL of ours to shoulder by staying informed and engaged as a people and keeping watch on our own leaders to be sure that they never step outsides the bounds that we've agreed upon. Society as a whole can NEVER lax on this: it has before already and look where we are now because of it. Part of the reason we're in this pit that we're in politically is that so many average people simply stopped paying attention to those who have been entrusted to wield power within the U.S. (part of that whole axiom on "absolute power corrupts absolutely" and all that). Its been ground into several generations now that this stuff "is not your problem, its someone else's; you never have to worry about any of this and can just go on about your merry way".

If you think that this is less of a problem than those who ARE actually active and care about what's going on (to the point that they may shout and holler about it at times) then you're horribly, tragically mistaken.

Which brings me back to "it doesn't matter what you say, but how you say it". For just about every political election of my lifetime since as far back as I can remember, elections have been most often decided predicated more on feelings and emotions rather than cold, hard facts. Part of that is because there are so very, very few average people who stay politically informed and engaged, so all they really have to go on in lieu of facts is "which of these candidates FEELS more right to me". And even ever since I was little, this has NEVER sat well with me. Even as a stupid fucking kid, I could see plainly that when two people are arguing on national television over which of them has the better plan to balance the budget and ensure that regular people like myself and my friends and family can maintain basic necessities like food and shelter and be able to see a doctor when we get sick, and the primary points being discussed and argued by both news media pundits and regular people around me are "which candidate had more poise and likable charm and personality in how they were speaking" rather than any of the actual substance behind what they were saying... something about that ENTIRE situation is very, very, VERY fucking wrong and ass backwards.

I don't give two fucking shits what my president is like aesthetically. I don't care if he (or she) stutters or slurs or if they curse too much or if they pick their nose or if their dad was Jewish and their mom was Catholic, if they're too tall, too short, skinny or fat, if they're gay or black or a woman, whether they have a "kind and personable smile and demeanor" or what the fuck ever. ALL of that shit is utterly meaningless drivel. All that ultimately matters is what does this person plan to do about our national interests and issues? How good of a thinker and problem solver are they, and how well can they handle speaking with other foreign leaders and things of that nature. And all too often these are the VERY LAST things on anyone's mind when they get in the voting booth. People all too often judge these things like they're judging a beauty pageant or voting for their high school class president.

I see the same thing with regards to political discourse among us regular people. When you discuss politics, its not the same thing AT ALL as discussing movies or tv shows or musical bands or shit like that. In all of those cases, personal aesthetics are OF COURSE prevalent and substantive to the topic. Not so with politics. At all. Politics aren't (nor should they be) a matter of merely "personal aesthetic preference". This isn't a trivial fucking topic. When you talk politics, what you're talking about are issues and decisions that affect the very quality of everyone's lives on an exceedingly basic, fundamental level. You're talking about whether or not you believe that the black person standing next to you has the same inalienable rights as you do, whether or not you think that people who are less fortunate than others have the right to be clothed and fed as you do, whether or not you think that the wives of your friends and family members are entitled to the same freedoms and protections as their husbands, whether or not other people in foreign lands abroad (who again, are flesh and blood people no different ultimately than you or I, who have families, small children, friends and loved ones and lives of their own, etc) should be vaporized into human charcoal by our bombs.

People even voted for Obama based largely on aesthetic preferences. They voted for him because he was black (thus netting us our first ever black president in a shallow and pitiful attempt to "prove" how far we've come and risen above racial differences, even at the exact same time as countless innocent black people are gunned down and murdered in broad daylight by a racially bigoted police force), and because he was a sweet, warm and inviting speaker who "sounded presidential". Almost NOBODY looked into reporting (that was most assuredly being done at the time, even back in '07) about who he was taking political donations from, what sorts of interests were really at play on his voting records... you know, things that would ACTUALLY dictate and point to what kind of a leader he'd actually be in practice. Substance in other words. 

People took him at face value and voted for him based entirely on surface-level fluff. And in the end, while I'd NEVER go so far as to call him a "bad" or even total failure as a president (he's certainly made significant strides on certain issues), ultimately when all's said and done he was a disappointing milquetoast who sold out to the same corporate interests as every other president within my lifetime, was weak and ineffective on fighting for the will of the people, thus costing more and more countless innocent lives, both in drone strikes abroad as well as to poverty, greedy insurance laws, and to police corruption, amongst countless other horrors.

This shit ISN'T who you're favorite pop singer is or what summer blockbuster you think will kick the most ass next year. People, real live flesh and blood men, women, and children even, are fucking DEAD because of the decisions that Obama has made and continues to make at the behest of his corporate donors. Many of them people of color even, dead at the hands of institutionalized racism that he himself is ultimately at some level helping to reinforce, showing you at the end of the day exactly how much shit like "our first president of *insert put upon minority here*" actually fucking matters to any of this ultimately. To say nothing obviously of the horrors that Bush was responsible for before him obviously.

When it comes to issues like this, do I get mad? Do I get heated? Do I lose my cool with others in ways I would NEVER if it were about almost literally ANYTHING else when I think that they're not thinking or acting constructively about what's going on right now in these matters? Yes, of fucking COURSE I do. Why? Because I have a functioning brain and a working pulse. Because if you can't get mad about innocent people dying every day by the hundreds and thousands purely to line the already over-stuffed pockets of a handful of disgustingly wealthy corporate tycoons, then what directly the mother of fuck CAN you get mad about exactly? What more else is there that's even WORTH getting mad about? The next Academy Awards snubbing?

When it comes to politics, we all should mostly have the EXACT OPPOSITE view that most of us seem to have about these things now: it should be all about WHAT you're saying, and far more rarely about HOW you're saying it. When millions upon millions of lives are decided on these discussions and debates, SUBSTANCE TRUMPS ALL ELSE. The end.

We've already tried and done the whole "lets be polite, respectful, and well spoken" approach. Time and time and time and time again. Its moved just about absolutely no one on the far right. We've done and are still continuing to do the "mad as hell" approach in some circles, and as Rudd (correctly) noted, its not doing much either. Because at the end of the day, like it or not, here is the reality of the current political spectrum: one side cares about facts and reality and is trying to operate accordingly, while the other doesn't care at all about what's factual and tangibly real in front of them and is actively choosing to fight against reality, continuing to do so no matter how many people continue to suffer and have their lives destroyed, and no matter what or yes even HOW the facts of the matter are presented to them. Heated or polite, calm or not calm, argumentative or peacefully pleading, doesn't fucking matter either way: blind, willful ignorance and fear are what a terrifyingly significant portion of the American electorate is allowing to rule their thoughts and emotions.

Again, the two sides are plainly and obviously NOT fucking equivalent, and if you still insist that they are somehow then I'm sorry but you're just not paying anywhere near enough attention. Its that simple. Again I ask, how on earth can you even begin to equate "all brown people are rapist killers and savages that we need to be afraid of and eliminate from our society" versus "all people of all races, religions, and sexual orientations have the same inalienable rights to basic comfort, care, and quality of life" as being in ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM two equally valid sides of the same coin. Fucking how? Go ahead. Lay it out for me and spare no detail. This oughta be good.

Its a paralyzing, seemingly no-win situation, and like Rudd (and pretty much everyone else) I don't know what can be done about it ultimately either. But I do know one thing: all's said and done, I'm long, long, LONG ago sick to death of giving two shits about the tone and tenor of how facts like "We're now responsible for more than ten times the number of innocent deaths than 9/11" or "the very planet we're standing on is melting beneath our feet and if we don't act RIGHT FUCKING NOW, then all of our children and grandchildren will be living on borrowed time" sounds to people who, no matter what stone cold reality is presented to them, refuse to budge and refuse to believe what is RIGHT THERE but two inches in front of their fucking face no matter what flavor of applesauce the pill comes to them wrapped in.

So you know what? To hell with tone. To hell with "who's warmer and friendlier or colder and more harsher-spunding". People are literally dying over this shit and that very reality in itself combined with any possible form of politeness or conversational etiquette has done all of diddly shit to sway the extremist wingnuts (on which only one side has been taken over by and not both) away from the firm grip of irrationality and extreme, emotion-based paranoia. Level of politeness and etiquette should at this point be the LAST things on anyone's minds in these kinds of matters. And if you disagree with me still, if you still think that I'm being overly histrionic and that I'm being "part of the very problem that Belloq was opining about", then wait until any one of these issues comes directly to YOUR doorstep and directly affects and/or harms YOU and the people that you actually care most for. Then come back and talk to me after about how you feel about "both sides being equally too extreme and irrational". Then lets see how easy it is to be so detached and apathetic and "able to see above all the pettiness and bickering at both ends".

Because treating the current political climate as little more than just a shrill squabbling match between two sides that are just as wrongheaded as the other on every issue evenly is in its own way almost every bit as disingenuous, reductive, ignorant, wrongheaded, and ultimately damaging of a fantasyland scenario as the sort of disgustingly fascist shit that the far right GOP is painting. And if you don't want to just take my word for it on that, go ahead and ask people like Sandra Bland.

Or the families of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and the kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Or any one of the 1.2 million people turned homeless after the 2008 housing crash.

Or any of the hundreds of people in New Orleans who spent the latter end of the summer of 2005 drowned and floating face down in a river that used to be their home streets.

Or any of the innocent farmers and grandmothers and 5 year old kids who were turned into ricotta cheese at the business end of a U.S. military drone's missiles.

Or any of the 40,000 regular Americans who die every year from easily treatable illnesses.

Or any of the thousands of U.S. troops and military personnel who've been killed, permanently maimed, or psychologically fucked in any number of insurgent hot spots in Iraq and Afghanistan over what has turned out to be in the long run one great big money making scheme for a few oil companies and weapons manufacturers who described 9/11 as "a prime business opportunity" in several now-leaked documents and e-mails.

Go ahead and see what any of THOSE poor souls have to say about the idea that "eh, this is all just a bunch of petty bullshit that everyone's getting too wrapped up in, and it just makes you a giant dick to even care so much to get all riled about any of it at this point".

Someday, heaven forbid, you just might find yourself or someone you know and care about as one of those statistics. Trust me on this one tough guy (or gal), it'll be a touch more difficult to be so cavalier about any of this when that happens.

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#55
AIssues and what you say about them are absolutely non-trivial, and I don't think anybody was intending to say otherwise. However, A. the cynicism towards the political establishment expressed here has not been about issues, it's been about how little the political establishment is actually about issues (cheerlead for the Dems all you want, but the differences between most elected officials at the national level on all but a few generic items are so miniscule it's mind-boggling,) and B. that still doesn't excuse being an asshole, nor does it make it an effective means of communication/persuasion.
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#56

I certainly do not now, nor have I ever in most of my life really "chearled" for the Dems. The Dems are almost totally worthless political dead weight more often than not, offering only the flimsiest of resistance (if that even) against the self-immolating flights of fancy of the GOP, and yes when it comes to who they're bought and owned by, they're every bit as bad and guilty as the Republicans. That's about one of the few major issues where they ARE just as evenly corrupt across both aisles. If anything, I've generally always been a proponent for "can we get at least a third viable option here perhaps?" so far as political parties are concerned.

What I'm against is the notion that those who consider themselves left leaning, not just on the political stage but also right here in the streets in the real day to day world, are just as disastrously wrong and delusional about the issues as those on the far right on the overall whole. Because "who's right and wrong" about issues as important as these ABSOLUTELY fucking matters: anyone of any political ideology who is SO catastrophically wrong that they cause as much death and destruction as has been caused over the last 15 or so years NEED to be held accountable, if for no other reason than to help better ensure that the exact same fucking mistakes are never repeated.

Framing the whole divide as "two shouting voices who are both evenly right and wrong about everything to the point of canceling each other out" is not only completely absurd, its genuinely dangerous.

Even right now, the Republican base is eager and hungry to elect another wealthy, pampered moron with shit for brains for the highest office purely on the basis of his being an Alpha Male cult of personality. I've seen this same exact movie back in 2000, and it ended with us getting W. and the ensuing 8 years of absolute utter horror.

When you aren't firm on "who was right and who was wrong" about shit this crucially important, the same follies will be doomed to be repeated again and again.

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#57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaquio View Post
 

Framing the whole divide as "two shouting voices who are both evenly right and wrong about everything to the point of canceling each other out" is not only completely absurd, its genuinely dangerous.


I’m not sure if this was directed at me (by implication I assume it was, since I started this thread), but that is simply not the argument I was trying to make.  Perhaps you believe that’s the case because I brought up the issue of finding myself agreeing with Democratic and Republican policy roughly equally, and therefore call myself a centrist (in terms of the way the two parties are currently constituted); that was just background on me and where I have arrived in terms of forming my opinions on the issues so people would know where I was coming from.  I agree/disagree with each party’s stated platform roughly equally, but that doesn’t mean I think my way of looking at the world is necessarily 100% correct, and this thread was not meant to be a call for centrism as a whole, or to say to people that it's wrong to hold deeply-felt ideological convictions and that we should all moderate our positions into the wishy-washy middle.



I’ve never had any problem with anybody thinking one side is clearly worse than the other.  No problem whatsoever.  If you believe passionately, then more power to you.  My concern was only ever about the tenor in which those differences of opinion were being voiced.  Your stance on that issue has been fully articulated, so I doubt either of us is going to be able to change the other's mind about it.

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#58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloq87 View Post
 

I’ve never had any problem with anybody thinking one side is clearly worse than the other.  No problem whatsoever.  If you believe passionately, then more power to you.  My concern was only ever about the tenor in which those differences of opinion were being voiced.  Your stance on that issue has been fully articulated, so I doubt either of us is going to be able to change the other's mind about it.


I don't "believe" that one side's worse than the other. I know that that's the case. Its an absolute goddamned fact at this point. Why? Because I have a working set of eyes and ears, and grotesque shit like this (and this) only ever happens on one political stage and never the other.

At a certain point, the debate on certain things just becomes good and over with. There is no more debate on global warming: we know for a fact that its happening and that were the ones causing it and that anyone arguing differently is simply resisting against reality. There's no more debate on evolution: we know that that's a part of nature, and most resistance against that fact is simply clinginess to archaic medieval religious dogma. There's no more debate on the scientific validity of shit like phrenology: we know that that's utter bullshit and anyone who says different is very likely a racist scumfuck.

These are all arguments that are just null and void at this point. The ballots are closed and the jury is in on them.

And by that same token on the matter over which end of the U.S. Left/Right political spectrum is the more bloodthirsty, authoritarian, and self-destructive, again that isn't a debate anymore at this point: if you're someone who still thinks its an arguable issue than can be seen either way, I'm simply flabbergasted.

And so far as "tone and tenor" goes, my final closing sentiment will simply be (and this is as much aimed at commodorejohn earlier also) that if you are still able to look at a situation where one side is getting furiously angry and exasperated with another side that keeps adamantly and steadfastly insisting on dragging the rest of the country with them away from the 21st century and back instead to a Puritan-era time of political and social norms, and still find that both sides are equally culpable of being assholes with asshole-ish behavior and that one isn't doing more real tangible harm than the other, then yes, at that point you ARE arguing for "centrism for centrism's sake" whether or not you realize it.

Because in a divide that's at this point become so overwhelmingly clear and stark, if you're unable to see the real moral difference between "lets plunge the whole nation back into the Dark Ages" and "motherfuck these superstitious, fascist, authoritarian douchebags", or "all Mexicans are rapists and killers" versus "screw these racist shit heels, they don't speak for all of us", or "all people of any gender, ethnicity, economic class, etc. deserve equal treatment and equal quality of living because its the humane thing to do" vs "fuck 'em all and let 'em die, I've got mine", for no other reason than simply because both sides are using heated rhetoric, then that paints you as someone who can almost never make a concrete decision or take a real moral stand on just about anything.

Everything is 50/50, no one ever has nor can have any real moral high ground in any argument, etc. You are then the textbook definition of "wishy washy", the kind of person who if they were confronted with a debate on humanitarianism between Noam Chomsky and King Salman of Saud, would probably scratch their chin with a puzzled look by the end of it while musing "Gee I dunno who to pick: they both have such good points. I guess its a wash." A prime candidate for an MSNBC commentator in other words, or a swing state voter.

Am I "browbeating" as Arjen Rudd said earlier? If I am, I'm not really intending to. Browbeating to me implies some level of subtlety, not to mention malice. And I'm clearly not being the least bit subtle here, nor am I saying any of this to in any way viciously hurt Belloq's (or even commodorejohn's) feelings. I don't know either of them from Adam, I have absolutely no reason or desire to pointlessly spew bile at them in some inane attempt to dump on them senselessly. I'm sure that they're both sweet, lovely people. That isn't the issue here.

I'm using the verbal/argument equivalent of hitting them with a tire iron (in stark opposition to the "can't we all just get along?" nature of this thread's entire premise) to make the crucial point that only one side in this political argument has allowed themselves to devolve into a cartoonish caricature of the denizens of the Twilight Zone's own Maple Street, and if the other side has finally lost any and all patience after all these years and has resorted to shouting back at them, THAT DOESN'T IN ANY REMOTE WAY MAKE BOTH SIDES EQUALLY THE ASSHOLE HERE.

Saying that it does is absolutely bugfuck ridiculous and reductive to the Left's actual points: not acknowledging the aforementioned complete and utter devolving into cartoon villainy of the one side and framing this as if its still a debatable issue between two morally equal sides inherently lends moral and intellectual credence to the side that by far and away least deserves it.

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#59

Look, my feelings about the tone of our discourse should not be mistaken for letting the crazy voices on the far right off the hook.  For example, Trump’s candidacy scares the hell out of me, and a lot of his supporters make me sad for the state of the country.  However, it doesn’t make me feel better to say “They’re all fucking racists and bigots and terrible, evil people who want to destroy the nation.”  I don’t see that as doing any good for anybody, and it will only make those supporters feel even more under siege than they already (fairly irrationally) think they are, further pushing them into even more outlandish and entrenched positions from which it will become fully impossible to even hope to reason with them.  You disagree and appear to feel that they must be shamed into submission or silence (or what have you) rather than possibly being persuaded and reasoned with (if that's an unfair characterization of your position, you can set me straight).



Again, to be clear, me holding some positions that you would consider to be on the right side of the spectrum does not mean I’m defending the right as a whole, or that I condone the insane rhetoric coming from others on the right.

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#60
A[quote name="Jaquio" url="/community/t/155186/the-tone-of-american-political-discussion/30#post_4016063"]words[/quote]

Here's the thing: you flood the thread with thousands of words of ideological fury. But over what, specifically? You don't go into almost any detail about your exact points of disagreement with Belloq, which isn't surprising because he's said very little about what his opinions on individual policies are.

Your rage seems to be purely over his unwillingness to buy in to the whole rah rah team sports approach to politics, which you equate as a refusal to take a stand on any issue, and tacit support of everything you hate. You seem to feel that gives you licence, if not a moral imperative, to disengage and break out the soapbox rhetoric.

The mentality you're advocating - where righteous fury seems to trump all - could just as easily be used to justify any given zealot screaming at passers by outside a tube station (in fact it could've been transcribed from one of them).

Raging at your chosen villains is easy, finding workable solutions in a world full of conflicting interests is hard. Political change doesn't happen unless you can convince people, and you don't convince anyone by shouting in their face that you're right and they're wrong.
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#61
Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul C View Post

...Political change doesn't happen unless you can convince people, and you don't convince anyone by shouting in their face that you're right and they're wrong.


Thing is, despite presenting a logical position/argument and facts to back up said position, there are going to be some folks that will never be convinced.



I mentioned on another thread here that there was another discussion going on about the moon landing...specifically, a member there denied that man ever landed on the moon.



He wasn't 'ha ha' joking about it either...when other members proceeded to present evidence to back up the claims that. Yes, we did land on the moon, he remained unconvinced.



How do you deal with this kind of intransigence?



Now, what happens when people with this level of denial are in positions of political power?


Like the NDT quote I mentioned earlier in this thread....




      -"In a free society, you can and should think whatever you want and if you want to think that the world is flat, go right ahead.


But, if you think the world is flat and you have influence over others, as would successful rappers...or even presidential candidates, then being wrong becomes being harmful to the health, wealth and the security of our citizenry"

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#62
A[quote name="VTRan" url="/community/t/155186/the-tone-of-american-political-discussion/50#post_4016115]

How do you deal with this kind of intransigence?

[/quote]

I don't know-- how would you propose it be dealt with?

If you're talking about people who are unpersuadable by reason, then how is ranting and raving about them and calling them names on an internet message board meant to remedy anything? Whose mind does that change?

And anyway that's not what's happening here; we have some people essentially taking a hard line against centrism. And again, the center is where persuasion does have to happen, where the argument has to be won-- in a democracy, at least.

Part of the problem is that some commit the category error of casting every single point of dispute in the same light as a Flat Earth argument or conspiracy theory. At that level, all opposing views get to be called dangerous. And a discussion really doesn't have anywhere to go after that.
Reply
#63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloq87 View Post
 

You disagree and appear to feel that they must be shamed into submission or silence (or what have you) rather than possibly being persuaded and reasoned with (if that's an unfair characterization of your position, you can set me straight).



Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C View Post

Your rage seems to be purely over his unwillingness to buy in to the whole rah rah team sports approach to politics, which you equate as a refusal to take a stand on any issue, and tacit support of everything you hate. You seem to feel that gives you licence, if not a moral imperative, to disengage and break out the soapbox rhetoric.

The mentality you're advocating - where righteous fury seems to trump all - could just as easily be used to justify any given zealot screaming at passers by outside a tube station (in fact it could've been transcribed from one of them).

Raging at your chosen villains is easy, finding workable solutions in a world full of conflicting interests is hard. Political change doesn't happen unless you can convince people, and you don't convince anyone by shouting in their face that you're right and they're wrong.


Fine. Totally fair points made by Paul C. Let me phrase it like this then.

I've said this already in the above posts, but I'll repeat/rephrase it again here: overall, most left leaning folks have already tried calmly and rationally getting through to the right wing crazies over the last decade+. We've had an entire two term presidential administration of which roughly 85/90% of it has consisted of genial and heartfelt pleading for bi-partisanship, to the point of the president starting his very first few weeks in office (with a Democratic majority Senate no less) arguing down his own positions on healthcare just as a show of solidarity with the Republican base (and also probably to appease his own big money donors, but that's neither here nor there). He was met in return by hysterical shrieking from the far right that he is somehow a secret Muslim Socialist Manchurian Candidate out to burn the entire nation to the ground from within. We're now less than a year until he finishes his run, and no one has seen any sign of Obama's secret army of Muslim radicals invading capitol hill yet.

This has been the general political landscape of the entire U.S. for the last 15+ years: the reasonable, sane people trying to be calm and soothing and amiable, and the histrionically paranoid and fearful wingnuts responding to any attempt at being swayed by digging their heels even FURTHER into the land of crazy. The right wing isn't being pushed by anybody into further fanatical mania, they've all generally been working themselves into an increasingly far extremist frenzy. If you think that the current GOP infatuation with Trump is somehow symptomatic of increasingly hostile attacks from the Left for the past 8 years, you're simply and staggeringly flat out wrong in every which way possible. The closest the left has come to anything even vaguely approaching "hostile" was the Occupy movement, which fizzled itself out in fairly short order, unlike the Tea Party which is as active and frenzied today as ever.

Might I also add that the inciting incident that caused the Occupy movement to form was the 2008 economic crisis. The Tea Party's? Black guy getting elected president. Again, if these are the two "far end extremist" points on the American political spectrum, HOW IN THE FUCK are they in any remote way equivalent in temperament when one side gets riled up by unpunished economic injustice and the other side gets freaked out by minorities getting into positions of authority?

The point here is that trying to calmly rationalize with far right leaning American voters and politicians has already been tried. A lot. And it NEVER fucking works. Ever.

When one person keeps continually trying to rationalize with someone who's already very worked up and the latter person responds to the former's calm civility by continually slamming them in the face with their boot heel over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and again and again and again and again and again... at what point exactly is the calm, civil person allowed to finally lose their patience and just hit back at the out of control asshole bully? Without being judged then as "just as big of an asshole" as the panicky, hysterical bully in question?

The problem I have with Belloq's entire premise that "everyone needs to just chill out" is that its a no-win scenario when one side has already for long many years demonstrated itself to be completely and utterly unwilling if not outright incapable of calming itself the hell down while the other HAS largely been calm, actually TOO calm to the point of being borderline sedate. What the fuck is the side that's already tried being calm, cool, and reasonable for more than a decade and a half now, supposed to do exactly in the face of that that would make Belloq, or anyone else in this thread who mostly agrees with him, happy?

This isn't a "rah rah team sports" thing. I have absolutely zero real connection that I feel towards the Democratic party, and I can't stand the whole "red state vs blue state" paradigm either. My "spewing of words" is my general frustration with the entire notion of "I'm not really sure what's going on here, but everyone's yelling really loudly, so I'm going to treat this situation as if everyone on all sides is just being a giant dick and this whole situation would just work itself out if everyone can just talk this out nicely".

If this were the sort of situation that would be possible to simply work out with a calm, reasoned dialogue, it would've been long well over with by now. The problem is that there's a significant chunk of the American populace that, particularly post-9/11, is hopelessly addicted to fear and keeps getting itself worked up into these "OUTLANDER!!! KILL THE OUTLANDER!!!"-like manias. 


I don't know what can be done to stop that. I never claimed I had all the answers here. All I do know is that wishing for everyone on all sides to "be more civil" (as per Belloq's intent with this thread) not only sure as hell isn't the solution, it disingenuously paints the situation as if the entire political spectrum across all of the U.S. is just a bunch of hysterical yahoos getting themselves slathered into a frothing-mouthed frenzy over trivial nothingness, when that appraisal only applies to about maybe 30-35% or so of the national electorate, while the rest are mostly just average folks trying to just make sense of things rationally no different than you or I.

And yes OF COURSE I deeply, DEEPLY wish that the answer was as simple as being patient and diligent with the easily frightened right wing until they come to their senses and we can all talk it out peacefully. But my problem here is that that's been tried for more than half my life now, and it hasn't really made any real headway with most people who align themselves with radical far right fundamentalist thinking. They've demonstrated time and again over the years that they don't NEED anyone else's help, left leaning or otherwise, to feel like persecuted, put-upon victims: they do a more than fine enough job of that all by themselves. There's a reason why the word Jihad means "struggle": the people who define themselves in these radical fundamentalist religious terms (be it Christian, Muslim, whatever have you) are the sorts of people who define everything in life as a struggle, usually against a perceived "oppressor". And if there isn't one, they'll just as gladly make one out of whoever's handy.

Also by that same token, I don't think that righteous fury necessarily trumps all: the problem I have is that over the course of the last 15 years, we've been watching the two major ends of the political spectrum across the U.S. slowly distill themselves further and further down to their most base, primal essences. And ever more increasingly, one side has been consistently revealing themselves to be coming at politics from a place of xenophobic "fear the other" paranoia and blind authoritarian obedience (be it to an Almighty God or a Fuhrer in Chief of some kind) while the other is generally the one with the more nuanced, mannered, and humane approach to things. 

One could make the argument (and that indeed seems to be the argument that some in this thread are making) that by left-leaning people demonizing the right so much, that makes the left just as bad and just as "fear the other/fight the oppressors" crazed as their opposition. The problems I have with that are numerous.

For one, I've been watching so much of the Left-wing end of the U.S. media (what pitifully little there is of it at least) maintain this level of self-awareness and thus have this hesitation at getting "too far riled up" so as not to become too much like their opponents. This lends an air of self-doubt and hesitation in their arguments that makes the left seem like the "weaker" of the two sides of the political spectrum to the casual observer while the right are the more confident and sure of themselves and thus appealing to the more layman, less politically savvy as the more alluring choice, if only on a pure lizard brained level of brain-stem thinking.

If the left is guilty of anything, its time and again being SO deathly afraid of stepping out of line and coming across as being seen as fanatical as the far right that they'll twist themselves into knots of caveats and apologies and argue down their own premises while biting their tongue when they have a clear opening to conclusively end a debate, even when they are clearly and demonstrably 100% right on a given issue.

For another, I don't generally see very much "demonizing" of the right coming from the left. I see a lot of labeling and calling out from the left, but here's the thing: their labeling is based in reality. Its predicated upon the right's very own actions and clearly stated ideologies. Are they fascist and authoritarian? Trump wants to even further put a muzzle on our own (already gimped) news media, to say nothing of his whole "bag 'em and tag 'em" approach to dealing with Muslims: if he were any more openly fascist, he'd be costuming himself in all of his rallies in some ridiculous military commander's uniform (and at this point I feel like we're but a stone's throw away from this actually happening). And for all this, he's only more and more lauded by the GOP party base, with the rest of his Republican primary competition contorting themselves into even further and further extremist pretzels in order to try and keep up. Right now, like it or not, his is the current face of the American Right Wing.

But when the right lashes out against the left? Its always "communist" this and "ISIS sympathizers" that and "they're coming to burn our bibles!" and so on and so on. All total lunatic fabrication as just about anyone with two brain cells to rub together can plainly see. Again only one side engages in mindless "demonizing" of the other.

Again, what gets me mad is all the false equivalencies that discussions like this make of the U.S. political climate. The climate as a whole is obviously indeed WAY too heated yes, but its so heated because only one side of it is flailing itself into an "ideological purity ball" as someone a lot smarter than I once perfectly put it. The other side of it has done nothing at all whatsoever to stoke the fires of the other's continued implosion. The left has been such a non-entity in America that when a genuinely strong-voiced left leaning politician like Sanders actually comes along and gains the slightest bit of traction, its an utter shock to everyone's senses. And Sanders, by non-American standards, isn't even all particularly THAT far left!

The whole premise of this thread topic implies that both sides in the current U.S. political climate are equally culpable in stoking the fires of ideological fanaticism, when that's just on its face total bullshit. Again, being genial and calm and invitingly reasoning with the far right has been the American Left's default setting for the last 15 years. At what point does finally raising one's voice (and thus engaging in "righteous fury" as Paul C puts it) actually become an appropriate action to take? Its like when the schoolyard bully ruthlessly picks on and torments the one quiet kid, hitting and beating up on him over and over and over, and just as the quiet kid is even beginning to start to put up SOME sort of a fight in self defense, the teacher comes along and gives them both equal amounts of detention with the old "I don't care who started it, we don't tolerate fighting of any sort" chestnut.

Am I thus arguing against having the American left's self-awareness and being mindful of the "battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster" axiom? Absolutely not and in no way shape or form: BUT at the same time, what I think I am arguing for is for those who aren't aligned with insane right wing rhetoric in this country (be they politically left leaning, or even moderate right leaning people) when engaging in debate and argument with those who are clearly batshit far right to also be mindful of another cliched axiom at the same time: "Have an open mind, but don't be so open minded that your brains fall out". That and "don't be so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance".

The problems that we're facing as a nation ARE hard and are complex as all hell. Repairing our economy and infrastructure and rooting corruption and moneyed interests out of the electoral process are going to be daunting tasks for ANY upcoming president or political leader (that I don't in any way envy), to say nothing of the complete and utter clusterfuck we've made of the Middle East and the very real fact that we may not ever act quickly enough to fight back against the effects of climate change. I'm not advocating "shaming" or "mindlessly shouting down" any opposition on how to deal with these issues. I'm simply also not in favor of the kind of intellectual/debating equivalent of "turn the other cheek pacifism" that seems to be the main idea being favored here: where no matter what sort of ideological opposition you face, even if its the most vile, twisted, despicable kind imaginable (such as one that favors open racism, sexism, homophobia, strict authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, anti-intellectualism etc.), you're response to it should always be "Well that's just your opinion, this here is my opinion, we can just agree to disagree and still be friends though right?"

Wrong. With the kind of divisive, hate-filled rhetoric being espoused by the GOP base in its current form, with the increasingly unhinged direction that they are continuing to take (unprompted and unprovoked by anything coming out of the left I continue to add) I just don't see how the "lets talk friendly and get through to them calmly" approach is somehow still perceived as a viable option on the table anymore. As I said, I don't know what the solution is with such a large mass of people who are this willfully disengaged from reality and this eager and hungry to listen to and buy into some of the most Klan-esque rhetoric coming out of mainstream politics that I've ever heard. What I do know is "lets just continue to be nice and friendly and reasonable, and eventually they'll all come to their senses" sure as hell ain't it. Not after all this time and so much continued willful devolving on the part of the right wing. 

I don't think, after 15 years of piddly barely-there resistance and naval gazing hesitation, that the left side of the U.S. political aisle has to worry in any real way just yet about falling victim to being as consumed with mindless, raging ideology and demagoguing as the far right's brand of zealotry. What the left in this country (and even those who are more moderate, despite it being probably against their natural inclinations) needs at this point is at the very least just a bit more of the far right's level of confidence and self-assurance in making their arguments. I don't think that that's any sort of cure-all solution, nor am I at all making any sort of a case that there even is one for any of this. But if nothing else, a bit more fire and aggression from the more liberal minded in the country is at the very least a start of some kind.

And if any of this still sounds to you (again, royal you, not just Paul C or Belloq or whomever) like its the exact same sort of "mindless raging" that's indistinguishable from what you'd see from a raving "the end is nigh" homeless person at a bus stop or like its in any way even vaguely equivalent in thoughtless dickheadedness to the kind of bile and swill you'll see on a typical Right Wing blog, then yeah I'm packing it in here, because I have no idea how much more thought out, reasoned, and rational I can possibly make this. 

Again, I'd love to hear a reasoned explanation for how it is that what I'm saying here (that a "lack of civility" isn't an "across the board" issue in American politics and that one side is FAR MORE culpable of it than the other) is even vaguely morally and temperamentally equivalent to "BE SCARED OF ALL BROWN PEOPLE!!!" and "Fuck you, I've got mine!", since at this point those are the mantras that the American Right Wing has essentially boiled itself down to.

I'm not the one that's oversimplifying it: the GOP has already taken care of that themselves. They're the ones who've conclusively made themselves over the last 15/20 years into the "pro-racism, pro-unprovoked wars, pro-oligarchy, and anti-science & education" party. And my argument and the source of my "mindless raging" here is that I have an immense problem with not only flagrant bigotry and intolerance, but also the wishy washy leniency that it gets: both in the mainstream news media (which confuses neutrality with impartiality) as well as in day to day political discourse.

If the best that anyone's got for how the typical left leaning person are being somehow just as dickish as most right wingers are in day to day political discourse is "well they're also yelling just as loudly as them!" then yeah: this all basically comes down to "Mommy and daddy are fighting! Wah!"


And as to this:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Slim View Post

And anyway that's not what's happening here; we have some people essentially taking a hard line against centrism. And again, the center is where persuasion does have to happen, where the argument has to be won-- in a democracy, at least.

Part of the problem is that some commit the category error of casting every single point of dispute in the same light as a Flat Earth argument or conspiracy theory. At that level, all opposing views get to be called dangerous. And a discussion really doesn't have anywhere to go after that.

The real heart of the problem here is that a significant (and seemingly unpersuadable) portion of the country have shifted their worldviews sooooooo insanely far into a hardline position of "disbelief in the tangibly real even in the face of overwhelming evidence and continue to nurture ego-driven ideological fantasies that are provably false".

Overwhelming scientific evidence that we're killing our food sources and flooding signifigant chunks of landmass? Don't believe it, the Bible says that only Jesus will decide the end of the world, continue drilling for oil more than ever. Countless innocent, unarmed black civilians are being murdered by an increasingly racist and paranoid police force? Not happening, racism isn't real, and anyway whatever it takes to keep those shifty darkies in line amirite? Botched military campaigns meant to fight terrorism are actually CREATING more terrorists and are also ultimately motivated primarily by war profiteering rather than domestic security? Bullshit, I'm still scared shitless of not only a terrorist attack that happened nearly 15 years ago now but also even terrorists attacks that happen in totally far off other countries half the globe away: KILL ALL MUSLIMS! FEAR THE BROWN PEOPLE! The political system is rigged by favoring giant corporate donations over the average working people? Just a lame excuse by whiny poor people and welfare queens who don't wanna work: those rich people worked hard for and deserve all the money they get (even when they just inherited it from their parents) and we should admire and look up to them. Bootstraps! Use 'em!

This isn't a "far out there minority" of the right that I've described: its mainstream. Its a more than significant chunk of the American voting populace. Shifting even to the middle of that isn't an actual middleground position still: the middle road away from 110% completely crazy is still roughly 50% pretty far crazy.

This is why I'm against neutrality in this particular case. I'm not against ALL forms of neutrality in ALL instances. Only when the mainstream paradigm has shifted so exceedingly far out into the wilderness of racist, xenophobic, religious fundamentalist wackosville.
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#64
Quote:

Originally Posted by Slim View Post

I don't know-- how would you propose it be dealt with?

If you're talking about people who are unpersuadable by reason, then how is ranting and raving about them and calling them names on an internet message board meant to remedy anything? Whose mind does that change?

And anyway that's not what's happening here; we have some people essentially taking a hard line against centrism. And again, the center is where persuasion does have to happen, where the argument has to be won-- in a democracy, at least.

Part of the problem is that some commit the category error of casting every single point of dispute in the same light as a Flat Earth argument or conspiracy theory. At that level, all opposing views get to be called dangerous. And a discussion really doesn't have anywhere to go after that.


I think that there is something to be said for giving the ignorant folks a soapbox and letting them 'hang themselves' with their own irrationality but their irrationality and disinformation needs to also be called out publicly.



If no one pushes back against the 'crazy', it has a chance to become 'the norm'.



You are right about centrism being the plateau upon which real change happens and grows. The optimist in me wants this to be the way forward.



However, the pessimist in me realizes that there is a huge segment of US conservative politicians and businessmen (and it's mostly white men) who don't want things to change and they are have been spending millions (billions?) of dollars to stymie any positive change whatsoever to US society.



The goal of many of these folk is to destroy every good thing that was accomplished in the last 70 years.  Unions- fuck em, voting rights- only wealthy should vote, EPA- don't tell me where my company can dump it's waste.



As for having 'all opposing views being called dangerous'.....you know what, sometimes that opposing view IS dangerous and it needs to be called as such and fuck this whole equivalency bullshit.



I am reminded of the cigarette manufacturers standing in DC and, without blinking, lying their asses off about the addictive properties of nicotine.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6B1q22R438


Just because these 'captains of industry' believe what they are saying is true, does not make it so. These men are 'flat earthers' for their particular business.

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#65
AI 'm afraid you'll both have to clarify for me, then: if you find the opposition crazy and dangerous, that it can include the center of the political spectrum, but is aso unpersuadable, then what is meant by pushing back against it, outside of some kind of Jacobinism?

I suspect that if you put things into the kinds of terms, you're in for a lot more anger and disappointment. But, you know, good luck with all that.
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#66
I thought a bit more on what Paul C said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C View Post


Here's the thing: you flood the thread with thousands of words of ideological fury. But over what, specifically? You don't go into almost any detail about your exact points of disagreement with Belloq, which isn't surprising because he's said very little about what his opinions on individual policies are.

Your rage seems to be purely over his unwillingness to buy in to the whole rah rah team sports approach to politics, which you equate as a refusal to take a stand on any issue, and tacit support of everything you hate. You seem to feel that gives you licence, if not a moral imperative, to disengage and break out the soapbox rhetoric.

I feel like dismissing my views as a "rah rah team sports" approach to politics is sort of antithetical to my entire point from earlier about these issues being the farthest thing in the world from a game. Trivializing politics as "just like rooting for one's favorite football team" or whatever is precisely the sort of thing I'm staunchly against. If my various posts in here make it come across as if that's the prism I'm looking at this through... well then fucking hell, have I failed pretty hard at conveying my thoughts. 

By that same token, I didn't walk into this discussion with the specific aim of tearing someone (in this case Belloq) down because I felt like I was "given a license to" by something he said. As I said before, I've little doubt that he's a very good guy IRL, and I don't harbor any personal ill will against him (how can I when I don't even know the guy?) so why would I have any kind of personal ax to grind with him? The idea of "false neutrality" though is one that I'm extremely passionate about: I very much don't believe that EVERY political argument or debate is inherently even-handed and even-sided. Some certainly are of course, but I'm made extremely angry by the notion that all sides in any political argument have merit when that's just so, so, so obviously not the case, particularly within the core nature of the major arguments being hashed out in mainstream U.S. politics.

What I consider to be infuriating behind what Belloq said (and not because I think he's some hissably awful person, which I don't and is ridiculous, but because maybe its a perspective on his views that he hasn't really examined or thought about) is the idea that all sides in the American political spectrum are more or less equally uncivil and dickish. Not only is that demonstrably not the case, but this kind of fake-neutrality narrative as I said inherently favors (even unintentionally) the side that is actually and provably in the wrong by framing the argument as if they are on equal footing to their opposition.

And I went into such long rants earlier in order for me to illustrate exactly why and how I think that one side is demonstrably more dangerous and more wrong on all the issues than the other is: racism (institutionalized via the corrupt police force), sexism (having Biblical views on gender norms), homophobia (again, Bible-based bigotry), xenophpobia (demonization of the Muslim world due to post-9/11 terrorist fear mongering), war profiteering (the Iraq war and now the Afghanistan and Syrian clusterfucks, born out of unjustifiable preemptive military strikes), religious fundamentalism (watch 0.2 seconds of any Republican debate or read a mere paragraph or two of any Right Wing blog or website), imperialism (yet again, look to the right wing's military policies): only one side of the national debate has so ardently configured itself as being staunchly in favor of these things (as VTRan said, largely due to the majority of them being white male corporatists).

Continuing to paint a false-equivalence narrative of U.S. politics with all sides having equal merit and/or being equally culpable in being unreasonable (as Belloq's main points here are the types of sentiments that do) only helps to favor the insane extremism of the present day American right, as it makes their views out to be "just another political viewpoint" and thus "the norm" rather than "crazy".

If my points there weren't substantive enough, then I'm at a loss for what to say.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C View Post

The mentality you're advocating - where righteous fury seems to trump all - could just as easily be used to justify any given zealot screaming at passers by outside a tube station (in fact it could've been transcribed from one of them).

Raging at your chosen villains is easy, finding workable solutions in a world full of conflicting interests is hard. Political change doesn't happen unless you can convince people, and you don't convince anyone by shouting in their face that you're right and they're wrong.


Again, I never at any point here argued that "fury trumps everything". But when no amount of rational discourse or factual evidence seems to be capable of swaying such a large swath of the American electorate, and when people within the mainstream news cycles and even in everyday discussion (like within this thread here) peddle the notion that "its all even-handed on both sides", what the hell other reaction is there to have other than at least SOME measure of fury? 

It always feels like there's a large chunk of people (usually very often the sorts of people who don't like to get engaged in politics in general anyway, not that I'm assuming that that describes anyone here) who seem to insist upon an unreasonably consistent degree of almost robotic-like detachment and polite civility: even when one set of people are all but spewing vile racial epithets while pushing forward policies that set back countless social and economic issues by about four or five generations (if not longer), and the other are barely uttering a peep of protest half the time, and the other half of the time being easily shouted down by the raving loonies and often biting their own tongues so as not to offend anyone.

No no, because the room feels so tense and the volume is so loud, clearly everyone across both political aisles are equally responsible for the disturbance and need to just calm down and be more bi-partisan and civilized with one another. All sides in every argument are always 50/50, and everyone makes some fair points: even when one side are barely restraining themselves from goosestepping, babbling in religious tongues, and burning crosses in white hoods while they're on the national stage.

THAT notion is the root source of my anger here: no matter how demonstrably wrong and sadistically twisted a (horrifyingly) popular political ideology is, you can never ever go TOO far in calling it out, because heaven forbid you break from civility and politeness even for a microsecond. You can vomit up backward-assed, regressive views on race, sex, religion, and economic ideas on the national stage all the live long day, but perish the thought that you ever for a nanosecond get too heated against these ideals and show some bias. Even if that "bias" is mainly against institutionalized racism and intolerance and is in favor of basic human rights for all people across all racial and gender/sexual lines.

I'm sorry but I can't stand seeing people being urged to stifle down their horror at what's happening to the American political arena in the name of "polite etiquette" anymore. Like I said before, if you can't get mad at some of the shit that's happening in today's political sphere, what the hell exactly ARE you ever supposed to get mad about? Its 2016 and we're still debating issues such as women's reproductive rights, and whether or not our police force is racially biased, even as innocent, unarmed black children are murdered by them willy nilly and the perpetrators in blue get away with it without hassle. We're still debating whether or not privatized insurance is better or worse than government healthcare, even as tens of thousands die from lack of coverage every goddamn day, while every other civilized country whistles along with nary a single solitary death borne from a lack of insurance care. We're still debating gun reform, even as numerous modern societies like Japan and Britain show that SOME form of gun regulation is CLEARLY at work in reducing the total overall number of violent gun deaths.

We're still arguing about settled fucking debates decades long after they've been conclusively proven one way or the other primarily because ONE side of the aisle, ONE out of the two major political parties in particular keeps doggedly digging its feet deeper and deeper into into entrenched, unshakable regressivism. I think its gotten to be frighteningly easy for a lot of people to take for granted just how absurdly far to the right the ENTIRE political spectrum has been dragged over the last two or three decades. Hell even just the last one and a half decades.

Take my own pet political issue for example: the aforementioned healthcare debate. This was my "gateway" into politics so to speak, the original issue that got me to care about and follow politics (to one degree or another) even back when I was just a kid. I remember the form that the healthcare debates had taken back in the early through mid 90s: Hillary Clinton's obligatory "First Lady Pet Project" was getting some form of universal healthcare established. At the time she (and others on the Democrats side) wanted single payer (full government funded healthcare for all, without the useless, profit-motivated middle man of private insurance companies).

The Republican/Conservative response meanwhile wasn't even the now standardized "everything's fine just the way it is, do nothing. Hell if anything things were better off in 1953, why don't we all just go back to that instead?" Back then they AGREED and conceded that SOME form of healthcare reform was necessary: but that wiping out the private insurance industry was too much and too far, as was putting it all in the hands of "Big Gov". So instead THEIR proposal was... an "individual mandate". People being made to pay into the still-private system, thereby preserving the private insurance companies whilst getting much more regular working people coverage. Hell Bob Dole, decrepitly old, enfeebled, out of touch Bob Dole, who was laughed at as a complete and utter joke of a Conservative candidate back in '96, ran on a platform that STAUNCHLY favored the individual mandate. Even a lot of moderates thought that the individual mandate idea was much too little of a band-aid on the issue. The oft-talked about "middle ground" position then was the "public health option" where a government-headed insurance service would be created to "compete alongside" the already established major private insurance companies.

That was then.

Cut to today: the overall spectrum (left, right, and center) has shifted soooooooo far to the right, that Obama in his first Democratic majority-lead term, started from the formerly "middle ground" position of a public option (without even for one lousy second putting on the table the idea of single payer), then proceeded to argue himself down to... the individual mandate. Which became "Obamacare". Bob Dole's once-laughed at policy. The great, young, vibrant, handsome Democratic savior, the "next Bobby Kennedy-esque liberal crusader" as some were thinking of him very early on, and his big crowning legacy to healthcare reform that he's priding his ENTIRE administrative run on (and that he's still getting untold amounts of kudos for among many liberals today) amounts to what is ultimately stale, warmed over Bob Dole-lead conservative policy ideas from the mid-90s.

And the modern day Right's response? Shrieking and screaming and carrying on about Obamacare being a "far left socialist evil" wrought upon our perfect and gloriously sublime "free market capitalist healthcare system" that was good and perfect exactly the way it was before. Hillary Clinton, formerly the First Lady Crusader for single payer universal healthcare, has long, long ago junked that idea (since she started taking a shit ton of money from insurance lobbyists and got herself a Senate seat back in the day) and is today, in favor of further band-aiding the papered-over non-solution that is Obamacare. And she's seen by the GOP as a far left liberal! 

This is what I'm talking about about the gradual drifting to the right of the entire whole of the political spectrum making it so that a "centrist, moderate" position today is no longer an actual moderate position anymore. The Democrats today are the Republicans of the 80s and 90s while the Republicans today are the mainstream face of places like the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Stormfront, and the weird, creepy, unbathed guy in worn out old military fatigues that skulks outside your apartment building every day, babbling to you about "secret government societies coming to drag us from our homes and put us in concentration camps".

Centrism within this particular political climate is bullshit. The overall discussion and framing is skewed SO far right that the "middle ground" positions are often still very right leaning positions ultimately (if only less overtly loony right wing), and they're simply lending undue and unearned credit to far-right crazy ideals by saying "Okay you guys are at least sort of right when you say that we should just let uninsured sick people die, and that our police force is totally uncorrupt and not at all racially biased, and that privatized prisons aren't in any way shape or form a problem that overstuffs our prisons with minor offenders and non-violent 'criminals', and that moneyed interests have absolutely no sway whatsoever over the political process, that guns are SUCH an integral and basic fundamental right that ALL average everyday schmucks should have free reign to lug around AR-15's, belt-fed M16's, RPG launchers, and claymore mines openly and in broad fucking daylight, and that giant conglomerates should have every right in the world to dump their toxic crap wherever they please because 'free market'. So we'll give you a fair bit of leeway on all those issues and meet you in the middle."

Yes, I think that both the left leaning AND centrists should be speaking out together AGAINST this sort of bullshit because it negatively impacts and gimps BOTH of their political ideas. There's common ground there, the common goal of dragging the overall national political discourse away from the fringiest of fringy far right ideals, and back to at least SOME measure of real world-based political thinking.

And no I DON'T think that whatever the solutions to these problems may be will be "easy" nor that they will come from simply "raging at chosen villains". Like I said, I don't know what the solution to this gigantic political and societal impasse the American populace has found itself at: clearly this is an exceedingly complex matter that's far over the head of a mere simpleton like me.

But if there's on thing I DO know, its that we have to at least START with reframing the entire paradigm of discussion away from innately favoring giving ground to the right wing immediately offhand out the gate of most arguments. Pleading for "centrism" and "being more polite and genteel" with one another within the current right-leaning framing as it is isn't at all a useful sentiment or approach.

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#67
AHere's an example of what I was talking about. Having read a couple of your posts, I've decided you aren't especially interested in directly addressing what I and others are saying, or if you are, it would require a considerable amount of my time to parse through the rest of the verbiage. So rather than engage with you, I'm just throwing my hands up and leaving you and this thread be. The way you say what you're saying matters. Otherwise, you can be totally right, by your own definition, and no one else has to be involved at all.
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#68

I'm dearly sorry that its come across that way then.

I specifically tried to engage with what Paul C said above, and I also tried to engage with commodorejohn (in spite of the fact that he brought personal insults into this for reasons I'm not exactly sure of). If I didn't more directly address what you specifically said earlier, I don't know what to say other than I'm genuinely sorry. Same goes for Belloq if I didn't somehow more thoroughly go through his deeper points or what have you.

I've tried my honest best here, as I did in the past with this place, to engage with the other chewers in as civil, thought out, and well intentioned a manner as I could (even as in this case when its a topic that strikes a personal chord with me). I'm not at all dismissing the possibility/probability that the problem is in fact me and that I'm simply not cognizant or aware enough of what the exact nature of the issue(s) is with my communication here (aside from post length, and in this particular case my level of passion about the subject), but regardless of whether or not that's the case, the clear conclusion I continue to draw from here is that this community doesn't like my presence and that something about me and other members here is clashing awkwardly and personalities are not gelling in a way that doesn't feel entirely "normal" somehow. Which again, can very well be completely my own fault, but I'm not 100% sure of that.

All the same, its especially disheartening and sobering to hear it from folks like Paul C and Arjen Rudd, who have always long been among my favorite presences on this board since forever ago. Not so much that they disagree with me on any specific points of discussion here (that's totally fine) so much as their problem with what I've said here appears to boil down (to some degree at least) to something deeper than just the surface of the topic at hand. They're both extremely smart guys whose perspectives I've read long enough to have grown to admire, so if anything hits home the fact that there's probably something more fundamental going wrong with my ability to engage with this community (not even just here, but in other threads before), its guys like them basically saying as much.


That really, really sucks and I really do feel a great deal very bad about that. But yeah, I probably did the right thing awhile back by leaving and probably also subsequently made a dumb mistake by wading head-first into this thread. I've already awhile ago made myself into another Princess Kate/Harford/Fleedian-esque sideshow, which is more than embarrassing and shameful enough as it is, and I guess this just further hammers that particular point home.

Deeply sorry again for any trouble or frustrations caused. Out for good now. Promise. Take care folks. This still remains one of the smartest and most continually insightful "geek-centric" communities I've ever come across within the last decade and change.

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#69
AOh well, now I feel like a real asshole! Honestly, post length was a big part of it, easily the biggest part for me. I found myself unable to commit to this thread, a topic which is not something especially near and dear to my heart, and I don't mean to chase anyone away with a dismissive cluck. As I said, I don't disagree with your premise, I'm just increasingly disillusioned about the idea that common sense logic or traditional ideas of empathy mean a damn thing in the arena of political thought. That's a tragedy, sure, but also something of a reality, and to ignore that is to admit defeat. Pragmatism will have to carry the day, no matter how things should be.
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#70
Quote:

Originally Posted by 3nnui View Post
 

Olmos, I think casting it as an either/or proposition is a false choice. The devil is in the details. By making it such a simple choice and saying a person either has empathy or does not, you take away the discussion of the finer points. 




If you'll read my post again, I don't believe I said any such thing, or even close to it.  It's not that "a person either has empathy or does not" at all.  It's that depending on one's worldview, how one sees empathy in practice in the world (and in others) is so different, that what is empathy in action to one (i.e. the direct care of a neighbor or direct gift of capital to a favorite charity, but accompanied by the firm believe that social safety nets are not a Fundamental Function of Government), is seen as a lack of empathy by another (How uncaring can one be to desire less (or none) of their earnings to go to those served by programs for the poor, the sick, and the hungry?).



Which, as Cylon Baby beautifully pointed out above, is an absolutely invertible position (i.e. sending a portion of one's paycheck to a government program without any human interaction or direct sacrifice to neighbor or family hardly looks like empathy in action to the Second Camp).  Both camps see and practice empathy in the world.  Difference in the fundamental beliefs about the Functions of Government (ANY Government) renders each blind to the version of Empathy passionately embraced by the other.  This is the disconnect.

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