Over the past couple of weeks, some of my more politically involved friends have decided that adding me to newsletters of their respective candidate of choice would be a most excellent idea. Its not. When I get mailers like this in my physical mailbox, they go into the recycling bin without more than the first glance to see what it is. If it arrives in my Email Inbox, it gets a similar treatment – being sent to the oblivion of the digital version of the recycling bin. When my friends find out I do this to things that they thought would be interesting reading for me or for material they thought would easily sway me to their way of thinking – they tend to get rather pissed off. I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I do understand it. I have my own pet causes. I have a handful of politicians that I would like to see elected (sadly – most of them have chosen to not run for government positions as of late). I just don’t have to add people to the mailing lists to try and sway my friends’ opinions on any of that. They are grown folks (well, for the most part). They are quite capable of making up their own minds and making their own decisions. They certainly do not need me holding their hand on anything.
But that’s made me wonder a bit. I hear a lot of the one mentality that makes me grind my teeth when I see it: [Us v. Them]. For instance, and because it is the easiest example to come up with, look at the way the Conservative Tea Party folks treat everyone else around them. If you do not agree completely with them, you are against them. Even when you agree with some of the statements that they make, but disagree with them on others. My favorite, and often stated, quotation from these particular folks is “…if you cannot agree with the principles and statements that we make, then you are not an American Patriot.” That [Us v. Them] mentality. The Tea Party folks take it a few steps further as well. They view themselves as being surrounded by people bent on destroying America from the inside, as well as outside agitators – such as Al Qaida – whose aim is to destroy America from the outside. In essence, the Tea Party is the 101st Airborne of the political arena – dropped into the depth of enemy territory, surrounded on all sides, fighting for their essential survival. Its fairly easy to figure out who you have to fight in an instance such as that – anyone. The reality is something far different. The Tea Party is merely one of several political ideals that a group of people espouse towards in how America should be run. They are not surrounded. The people here in America that they claim to be the “enemy” are actually citizens, who – just like them – are espousing a way that the government should be managed to handle the necessary functions for this country of fifty, independent States. Declaring anyone who doesn’t believe as you, is the truest characteristic of an ideologue. Or if you prefer, a fanatic. Declaring that everyone should think the same as you, is quite similar to what The National Socialist German Workers’ Party espoused in the 1920s and 1930s in Germany. In World History, we know these people as the Nazi Party.
Now, let’s freeze this for a few moments. I am not equating the Tea Party to the Nazi Party. Not at all. What I am doing, on the other hand, is pointing out the similarities in their philosophical drive to get everyone to incorporate into a single way of thinking. And before anyone freaks too hard…the Democratic Party in the United States has some of the same traits in their way of thinking as well.
See, the problem is not one of what they believe – they being people who cling to an ideology. No, the problem is the fact that they cannot find a position of compromise in their thinking. They are far too rigid, unable to bend on certain issues, unable to see that another point of view breathes life into the discussion, and that freedom to choose a point of view doesn’t equate to an individual’s patriotism or commitment to the underlying democratic process. And this is the problem I have with those friends who add me to their political pet causes and candidate’s newsletters.
I have no political party. I honestly want to be part of no political party. I don’t need or desire to hear some individual step up and tell me how I should vote on an issue – “for the good of the party”. I am quite capable of looking at the issue and deciding for myself as to how I should or should not vote on an issue. Here’s the real rub though – there are people who choose to vote that way, allowing a party to make the decisions for them. And I honestly have no problem with that at all. They made a choice as to how they wanted to cast their vote. I don’t agree with the way they came up with their conclusion, but its their vote to cast.
Perhaps, I am far too independent-minded to see a function of a political party in my life. Perhaps its my knee-jerk reaction to a connotation (real or perceived) of over-bearing authority. Perhaps. Regardless, its how I function. Its the way I think on issues. I know where to go to find materials and information on issues and candidates. And while I appreciate the efforts of my friends to provide me with some of that information – for me it smacks of having their perspective shoved down my throat. It smacks of being force-fed their ideology. And in a way, I feel that it insults my ability to make intelligent choices on my own, for myself, and according to what I believe – as an individual.