“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein
Hopefully, there will come a time when it is widely understood that people are complex organisms with varying degrees of political persuasions. But these days, the media have become a successful tool in shaping our inner monologues in such a way that many have subscribed to the fallacious, dualistic “liberal vs. conservative” paradigm.
When culture is shaped by a dualistic paradigm, intellectual and critical thought cannot reach its potential. This is because those stuck in a dualistic mindset cannot fathom the multidimensional, and so the intellectuals’ attempts to reach out are automatically put into one of two categories.
This stunted growth can be observed in the irrational behavior of those in the political arena of the United States with their adherence to dualism, evident in the cognitive denial of Obama and W. Bush supporters.
Bill Maher has used the term “working backwards” to describe the process by which one begins with an agenda and makes reality fit in or around it. Rather than beginning with an agenda of truth and a desire to learn the facts, those in denial begin with their supposition, and whether correct or not, make all facts fit into this. Maher is guilty of contradicting himself with his own political assertions, but this doesn’t negate his point.
The stages of those “working backwards” are not dissimilar to the stages of grief, which have been defined, in order, as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, except that among the irrational supporters of politicians whose rhetoric and policy decisions are not congruent, the strength to outgrow the first stage has not yet been fostered.
Within this dysfunctional paradigm there is talk of democracy, freedom and liberty, vague American values, hope, change—and more posters and bumper stickers than a shopping addict can buy in a single visit to a mall or megastore. But all of these words are devoid of meaning to a citizenry addicted to comfort, apathy, and an unwillingness to think or act outside of the dualistic realm of Democrat vs. Republican.
A rephrasing of Einstein’s quote to describe political America would be “Insanity is voting Democrat and Republican over and over again and expecting different results.”
A single machine with two major cogs that serve the same purpose, we have one major conglomerate of corporations marketing itself as two dominant political parties, and it is succeeding to such a degree that the Obama presidential campaign won an award for its marketing, beating Apple, Coors, and Nike in the process. They would not have won this award nor spent the largest amount of campaign money in history for marketing that did not work.
Call it cognitive denial or willful ignorance, but those most successfully marketed to are the last to recognize it. People need to feel acceptance and go to great lengths to achieve this in life. Teens wanting to fit in will buy into brand consciousness that, for the right price, tells them they are hip, cleverly odd, or independent, and political adults will do the same for imagery and rhetoric that reaffirms their needs or beliefs. Marketing has evolved over time, and people’s acceptance of reality as a marketed entity has evolved right along with it.
Consider the propaganda of this one-orthe-other, least-worst landscape. There is a co-opting of words like “progressive” to mean that the other side is stagnant rather than what the word actually means: favoring or promoting progress. The current Democratic Party of the U.S. has, in policy, only promoted the progress of the Bush-era agendas of an illegal and immoral war of aggression, crimes against humanity, torture, spying on its own citizens, removal of habeas corpus, removal of civil rights for which nobler people have died, and extraordinary rendition, as well as declaring the President’s right to assassinate Americans at will. The military budget has increased to the largest amount in history, and the federal budget of the United States allocates more than half to the Department of Defense. The word “progressive” has lost its positive, constructive meaning in our Orwellian world.
The word “freedom” gets used on bumper stickers to promote the military agenda, with such slogans as “Freedom Is Not Free,” while freedom is literally defined as “the condition of being free” and free is literally defined as “having no cost or obligation.”
One of the more disconcerting incongruencies is the declaration by Democratic Party supporters that a third party option would have a detrimental effect in a Presidential election. They are afraid of the effect that additional voices would have in a process that, by definition, requires all of them.
The subjugated mind of those adhering to dualism is in the process of destroying its own inner layers so that no complexity can be seen. It is now a myopic puppet that cannot recognize the brilliance or beauty of what is true and real. It can only see what fits inside the notions predefined by those with less imagination.
It cannot see that there is no right vs. left. Aside from what this interpretation says about the right/left subscribers’ inability to see a clear path in front of them and their inability to look back and reflect on mistakes is the fact that there are options. And there are almost always many more than two. In fact, it is usually not until we see things in multiple dimensions that we gain any perspective. The rights and lefts have become inculcated in and by their own fiction. So it can be said that there is no right vs. left; there is direction.
And direction is something of which we are in desperate need in political America. Everything we love about life is much more important than politics, but there is nothing in our world that has been left untouched by politics. It is for this reason that we need to seek direction. But no real, clear, lasting direction will be shown to us without our first looking inward and being honest with ourselves, informing ourselves, and seeking leadership that does not pander to us but levels with us based on its recognition of our ability to reason. Once we are honest with ourselves, break free from the chains of denial, and discontinue supporting criminal elements in suits whose greed has overtaken our world, we will recognize real leadership and honest vision, which cannot be found in corporate mantras professing fiction as reality.
Isaac Conner manages Billtown Burlesque and WXPI Community Radio. He co-founded The Collective Perspective, a philosophical and musical radio show focusing on truth, which airs Sunday nights on WXPI. He is also a skydiving, foosball and Pearl Jam enthusiast. None of the opinions expressed necessarily represent the views of these organizations.