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(Trigger warning: equivalence alert!)
No, I don’t think the Democratic and Republican platforms are equivalent. Ideologically, I’m with the Dems maybe 50% of the time and the Repubs maybe 10%. No equivalence there. But the partisan tone has become equivalent on both sides. If a Dem or Repub leader says anything at all, the other side must consider it a priori wrong (and indeed evil) or risk being kicked out of the club. Perhaps social media is the worst for trapping people into such silos, but with many friends posting political comments daily, I can’t remember the last time any of them on either side deviated from the preset party line when an oppostion leader spoke.
So yes, I favor the Dem platform (or at least find it less bad), but there are three beasts in the cage, and the Republicans are not the most destructive of the three. There are the two major parties, and then there is the “us vs. them” paradigm of politics and social relations, shared equally by denizens of both parties. With my old hippie vision of moving toward a more ideal union, where people still disagree but with the understanding that we are all on spaceship Earth together, it is the paradigm itself that is the most destructive beast of the three. As long as we are locked into the zero-sum, “us vs. them” paradigm, we can move laterally to fix this or that local issue, but there can be no forward movement. We can get short-term ideological gains from our party – e.g., as I favor the Dem platform, I can hope the Dems seize the reins from Trump for at least the short-term benefits I think they would bring. But I cannot hope that Dems any more than Repubs will fix the long-term, and possible fatal, disease in the body politic. Neither party has the slightest motivation to correct the “us vs. them” model that is killing us.
Our only long-term hope is for someone to emerge outside the current political spectrum, an MLK-type voice. Politics per se is dead, killed by the two parties and the army of idiot activists on both sides. I don’t mean the government won’t continue its administrative function, but I mean something more along the lines of Nietzsche’s “God is dead” proclamation. Nietzsche knew that religious structures were not about to disappear, but he also could see that God was no longer a credible anchor of human belief structures. In the same way, for those who would step back from the everyday administration of government and re-envision a better society, politics is no longer a credible tool. Best to throw it away.
The good news is that underneath the veneer of us vs. them activism, I find that many people are quietly hungry for a unifying voice. I thought Obama was potentially such voice, but his failure to unify the country was pre-ordained by the fact that he emerged within one of the two major parties. Half the country will never listen to any unifying voice that emerges from the opposition party. Thus, my statement that the voice must come from outside the current political structure is a kind of logical tautology. Logic permits no other way. Of course, such a voice, on such terms, may never come, and we may disintegrate slowly or quickly, depending on which of the two parties is in power. But those people I meet hungering for some voice to restore a sense of shared humanness, those people still give me hope. We just need to take all this activist energy invested in one side or the other of the us vs. them paradigm and turn it against the paradigm itself. I would especially ask my friends on the left who consider themselves radical: How radical can you be if you are still hauling around the old albatross of the “left vs right” paradigm? If you want to be radical, break the paradigm.
Can we really get a critical mass of people to shed the dead snakeskin of politics as we know it and start over with a blank slate, a social vision stripped of politics with nowhere to turn but to heart and imagination? Probably not, but it’s worth a try.
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(Click covers for links)
This old meme circles back to relevance over and over, as Trump’s steady rollback of Obama-era environmental protections continues this week behind the scenes.
As an addendum, below is a clip from a Fedex commercial, torn from context and re-presented as a cause-and-effect metaphor for Sapiens’s treatment of nature during their brief run on the planet. (And by “brief run” I mean that unless our species lasts another few hundred thousand years, which seems unlikely, even Neanderthals will have proven more successful and robust than their short-lived, destructive, and relatively unsuccessful cousins, Homo sapiens.)
The footprint that marks our time on Earth may be … well, not our own.
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(Click images below for links)
- Joe Pizarchik spent more than seven years working on a (recently passed) regulation to protect streams from mountaintop removal coal mining. It took Congress 25 hours to kill it. This is just one of dozens of regulations that Republicans have begun erasing. (Politico, 02/12/2017)
- The Trump administration is requiring that political appointees review all Environmental Protection Agency studies and data prior to public release, according to a report from the Associated Press. The controversial new rules, which will also apply to information displayed on the EPA’s website, have sparked outrage from scientists and journalists.
- Trump has said he will cancel Obama’s moratorium on selling coal from federal lands and Obama’s order that federal agencies take climate change into account in environmental reviews.
- Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director nominee believes the issue of whether climate change is happening is “far from settled.” In fact, he is the man who led the fossil fuel industry’s lawsuit against the EPA’s clean power plan.
- Trump himself said last year that “climate change” was a hoax created by the Chinese to hurt the U. S. economy (although he has since shifted to “undecided”).
- Trump’s nominee to head the Dept. of the Interior “supports the Keystone pipeline and supported measures to remove protections of endangered species, while opposing legislation to regulate fracking.”
- US representative Jason Chaffetz has legislation to direct the Interior secretary to immediately sell off an area of public land the size of Connecticut, arguing that public ownership serves “no purpose for taxpayers.”
- Trump’s nominee to run the Dept of Energy is none other than Rick Perry, the man who promised to eliminate the Dept of Energy during his own presidential campaign.