Different kind of blog this time. I am truly perplexed. I am honestly asking a question about our collective mindset. Here goes:
Is anyone really, truly all left? Or all right? All good? Or all bad? I do not think so (OK, Trump is all bad but he is an exception). I think that even those who identify with the left to the total exclusion of all that is right-ist philosophy (and vice versa) will exercise some right-ist philosophies and/or actions in many situations. Even a major pinko-lefty wants the police to catch the bad guys, wants to balance their budgets and keep government intervention in their lives low. Even some of those rotten-righty-Maggots stop to help someone in distress, share their hospitality and make donations to charity.
I mean, some of the kindest, most generous people I know are righty-racist-sexist-anti-PC in their ‘personal presentation’ but they are major contributors to society, their friends and institutions. They are good in many ways. They are some of the greater builders of the community. And some of the most obnoxious, elitist, exclusionary folks I know identify with the left (like me). They are spoiled entitled brats like Justin Trudeau and lately, the Greens. None of us are all always on one side of the political spectrum at all times on all subjects.
Case in point: My father used to mumble all the time about ‘Chinks’ taking over. But one of his best friends was J. Wong. He golfed weekly with Gil C. (Chinese from the Philippines) and, when the Korean couple running the corner grocery was robbed, my dad would quietly volunteer to go and sit behind their counter if one or the other was all alone…sometimes for hours. He didn’t speak Korean. He didn’t talk. He’d just sit there protecting them. He did that for weeks at a time when Mr. Korean was in hospital for an operation. My father was not a racist, he was just blunt, rude, insensitive and a product of his times using the popular vernacular of his times.
And, just as ironically, my father identified strongly with the left. He was a pinko bleeding heart, generous to a fault. Shirt-off-his-back-kinda-thing. But I cannot count the number of guys he punched in the face. He was no peace-loving, hippy, pacifist doing yoga and smoking dope. He had a mercurial temper and a strong sense of right and wrong. But he never protested, demonstrated or even wrote letters to the editor. He drank beer at the legion, complained and punched people if they bugged him. And he projected a heavy personna like a Marvel character. He was no Bernie Sanders.
My recently deceased friend, John, was similar. He strongly identified with Capitalism, the Liberals/Socreds and he worked hard as a small-business-owner-mechanic all his life. And yet, he was a HUGE contributor to his community and not just in a small way with First Nations, addicts, widows and orphans. Few people ever demonstrate REAL life-long social work like John did.
So, what’s my point? Well, as I said: it is not a point this time, it is a genuine question. How the hell did we get polarized to the extent that people rigidly vote RIGHT or LEFT without hesitation when, in fact, they themselves are BOTH right and left in their own personal philosophy? Worse, they will actively dislike and do ‘dirty tricks’ against the other side.
Oh, I know, I know, we all vote using a mental shortcut so that we do not have to listen to the political gibberish spewed from the mouths of lying politicians. Of course we do. We have to. We have no real idea of our candidates. So, we generally vote party! Some people, I am sure, even judge just by appearance (and party)!
We are shallow in our political involvement but deep into our political identity! How did that happen?
The candidates all sing from the same hymn-sheet as their party told them to and so the candidate reveals little to nothing of their own views, abilities, influence. Our reps are unknown to us. To a typical voter, they just line up behind the ‘leader’ like cub scouts trying to earn a badge.
Even the general populace answers the ubiquitous exit poll questions with, “I voted for Trudeau (or whomever).” Which is simply NOT true. Unless they live in Quebec, they did NOT vote for Trudeau, they voted for some local ‘shill’ representing the Liberal party who, then, stands behind Trudeau and keeps quiet. We ally/identify/project ourselves based on that?!
So, if we have reduced our thinking to the cult of party, personality or simply physical appearance, if we take the democratic shortcut of primarily voting from party-name-recognition-habit, how did that devolve into such a polarized political climate?
I have no idea about my rep. She collects a salary and votes as Trudeau tells her to vote. How can I feel strongly about her? How can anyone defend her or Trudeau to the point that they must ‘HATE’ the other guys? What is happening to create this climate?
I have a dumb theory (arrived at without much thought) and this is it: we are all frustrated with our so-called modern lives (see the reluctance of people to go back to the office after Covid) or our personal situation or the planet or the economy or some major (in our own eyes) issue. Even our institutions seem to be letting us down. We want to lash out. We are frustrated! We are angry!
But there are only a few places in which we can now hurl our anger, our invectives, our negativity safely. It seems to be OK to hate white men, especially the older generations. It’s OK to hate Russians and especially the Oligarchs and Putin. For me it is OK to hate Trump and the Maggots (should be the name of a rock band). It seems to be increasingly OK to hate the police and, of course, it is always OK to hate addicts, welfare recipients, pedophiles and cartels.
I am starting to think that directed/projected/exaggerated hate is just a scapegoat for our own frustrations and unhappiness? Can anyone else explain this oddly polarized, ugly political climate in which we find ourselves?