The few … the loud … oh, Lord, so loud …

I had good reason for switching my major with my minor in college, away from political science, and it wasn’t just because I didn’t want to be a lawyer, as my mom briefly wanted me to be. (She got over it.)

But I usually don’t wear a frilly collar when I roll my eyes.
GIF found on giphy.

Politics makes my eyes roll, and as it is practiced now, it quite often nauseates me (it can’t all be blamed on the IBS). But more often, it just infuriates me.

Not because someone doesn’t believe what I believe; I couldn’t care less as long as they’re not harming anyone. It’s because not only has politics departed from reality, it’s infected everything. You can’t eat pizza or order a hamburger with Dijon mustard (I’m a ranch girl, myself, and on a chicken burger) without it being political, or give a kid a Barbie doll. God forbid you use Keurig brewers, wear New Balance or Nike, or eat at Chick-fil-A (I don’t, but that’s more because I’m anti-pickle with chicken; come to think of it, I don’t patronize any of these companies). And buying the products just so you can destroy them does nothing to hurt the companies, by the way.

If a relative or friend is well-known politically, rest assured you will be tagged as having the same beliefs. And if you’re a woman, your thoughts don’t even matter to a too-large segment of the population.

Flowering quince always reminds me of Mother’s Day, which is the same day as Decoration Day at Dayton Cemetery.
Image found on picclick.

I wouldn’t be surprised if my choice of plants for my yard (dogwood, hydrangea, mock orange, flowering quince, etc.) causes people to make political judgments about me. I’ve been accused of being everything on the political spectrum more than once. But as I told a reader recently, parties don’t matter to me, it’s truth that does (it’s not my fault that so many GOP politicians tell so many tall tales) … and so do pretty flowering plants, some of which are reminders of my childhood. Sometimes a flowering quince is just a flowering quince. It and the lilac at our old house always bloomed about this time, usually in time for Decoration Day at the cemetery.

My prime interest in politics has nothing to do with parties, but with the behavior exhibited by the hyperpartisan. I’m coming at it from a sociological view, and their behavior inspires both fear and fascination, often at the same time.

Maybe this is the reason for my migraines …
Editorial cartoon by Nate Beeler, Columbus Dispatch.

And for the hyper-hyperpartisan (oh, yeah, they’re out there), well, I just have to laugh. And hope I don’t live anywhere near them.

Most of us fall in the center politically, and lean certain ways, sometimes wholly, but sometimes dependent on the issue, which is why more people identify as independent (44 percent, as of the last Gallup poll on party affiliation) than with either major party, neither of which would be able to get a plurality of votes without help from independent voters.

But the middle is quiet (we’re thinking, ya know), especially compared with the extremists on either side, who are very small, and very vocal.

As my childhood dentist explained to my mom on why my wisdom teeth needed to come out once they started erupting (because my mouth was too small): Don’t be fooled by size, because it’s not the same as volume. She still couldn’t stop laughing at the idea that I didn’t have a big mouth. My voice tends to carry.

Extremism helps despots more than anyone else.
Editorial cartoon by Phil Hands, Wisconsin State Journal.

But in this new un-reality we’re in the middle of, some are being fooled. James Kierstead wrote last month in the online Areo Magazine: “For centuries, theorists have worried about the potential of unrestrained democracy to lead to a tyranny of the majority, in which majority groups ride roughshod over the rights of minorities. What we often see today is instead a kind of tyranny of the minority: a system in which a particularly extreme and motivated fraction of the populace can wield outsized power in the face of a majority which is either too indifferent or too scared to oppose it.” (Sounds a bit like the NRA, doesn’t it?)

Part of that power comes from the assumption that the activists represent the majority. However, as Kierstead noted, it’s mostly the volume (intensity, persistence, etc.) that carries the weight, not the actual number of people holding those views, and that is dangerous to the rights of all. “In our democratic societies,” he wrote, “politics and culture should be shaped by what all of us want, not by the whims of a few particularly riled-up activists. The tyranny of the minority has made too many inroads already. Allowing it to continue would constitute a serious erosion of our democratic culture.” In short, we should be sure of what the people truly want, not just the minority yelling the loudest, generally with pre-prepared talking points … which they too often seem to think are original.

Coincidentally, those are the same ingredients for most political talking points.
Image found on AZQuotes.

As I’ve often said, talking points seldom reflect reality, but people keep using them because they’ve heard them so many times they think they’re true. It’s also one of the reasons real debate is so hard, what with all the “liberalism is a mental disorder” and “not all Republicans are racist, but all racists are Republicans” cracks. And of course, complaining that polls and news are fake unless you agree with them. Sigh.

Past presidents have warned of the dangers of excessive partnership, perhaps most famously George Washington in his farewell address, saying parties “are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion. … The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.”

Aren’t we tired of all the fighting yet?
Image found on Southeast Progress Report.

In the last century, Dwight Eisenhower warned of the “emergence of a new extremism in our land” in the last essay he wrote before his death, published in Reader’s Digest. Writing in late 1968 in Walter Reed Medical Center, he urged centrism, seeing danger at both ends of the spectrum. “The effect of these voices, few in number but strong in decibels, is to create the impression that our country no longer heeds the rule of reason and tolerance.”

Compromise wasn’t weak and verboten to Ike, and he believed the “Middle Way,” as he called it, was far braver than the extremes:  “It often takes more courage to occupy the Center than any other position in the political arena, for you are then subject to attack from both flanks.”

Sure, the taxes were high under Eisenhower, but we got an interstate system out of it! Plus, not crazy.
Image by Wally McNamee found on Washington Post.

Derek Chollet, executive vice president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, wrote in The Washington Post that Ike’s appeal to pragmatism could help our deeply divided country: “It may not win the news cycle. Yet other presidents have found success by following this tradition—by steering a middle course between the extremes with a combination of ambition and humility, recognizing that there are rarely perfect answers or absolute wins. They pursue the politics of the possible over the politics of purity.”

Would that the guy currently in the Oval Office thought this way.

So how do we tackle this? I wish I had a good answer. Some might say we could keep the sides apart to prevent battles, but as Abraham Lincoln said in his first inaugural address, “Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot remove our respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other; but the different parts of our country cannot do this.”

What would we do with the families that are split up? Would we need completely different governments? Would people who change their minds be exiled? And don’t we suffer enough already from echo-chamber politics?

The best advice I can offer is for the many to take back power from the whiny. Seek truth instead of what makes you feel good. Work together for what serves the most people with the least harm, and make sure that’s what people really want.

And earplugs. You can’t go wrong with earplugs. There will be a lot more whining.

Thank you, Gollum, for the suggestion. Not listening to these idiots will ease my stress level.
GIF found on Tenor.

20 thoughts on “The few … the loud … oh, Lord, so loud …

  1. I agree completely with you when you say that politics has departed from reality. It seems to me that there are too many people in politics (and too many other places) who want to turn the clock back to the way it was before I was born. If it was good enough for their parents and their grandparents, it is good enough for them. However, like the song says, “The good old days weren’t all that good and the future is not as bad as it seems.” These people seem to be unable and/or unwilling to accept the idea that the genie is out of the bottle and it is not going back in the bottle. Any attempts to force the genie back into the bottle will not work and will only hurt too many innocent people.

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    • But Jeannie did … and she would never hurt Major Nelson! 🧞‍♀️😉

      Progress is a dirty word, didn’t you know? Things must always stay the same … as long as the people we like are in power.

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      • I always thought I Dream Of Jeannie was a stupid show and I still don’t like it. Did you know that Barbara Eden was a talented singer who released at least one album in the 1960’s? The late Ray Bell played guitar in her backup band before he got tired of being a professional musician and got a job teaching guitar and mandolin lessons at Boyd’s Music Store. Not only was Ray a gifted and talented musician but he was also a good teacher. I got to play bass with a group of his mandolin and guitar students for a few years before he died in November 2008.

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      • Bewitched was better. Of course, I didn’t see either of them till they were in syndication.

        I’m so happy you got to play with him. A good music teacher can be hard to come by at times, but the ones who love what they do are the best.

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      • Unfortunately yes there are too many people who think Progress Is Evil and too many of them seem to be in the opposite of Progress called Congress in Pound Laundry, D.C. This country and the rest of the world are going to change whether or not they want it to change or like the changes. I think the wisest thing they can do is to follow the advice about adjusting your sails to take advantage of the direction the wind is blowing in instead of foolishly wasting time, effort, and energy trying to control the wind and the direction of the wind. Or as Kosh the Vorlon said on Babylon Five, “After the avalanche has started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.”

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      • I got to watch both I Dream Of Jeannie and Bewitched when they were originally broadcast. I was not impressed by either show.

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  2. My thoughts don’t seem to matter to too many of the people in charge at my place of employment. The joke is that I can safely leave my brain at home because I don’t need it at work. Instead, the higher ups or “high muckety mucks” will do all of the thinking for us peons.

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    • A friend who is a writer and editor, as is her husband, was blown off completely by someone recently who talked to her husband instead of her about her work. Sadly, this guy wasn’t all that much older. Some of those attitudes just seem to keep hanging around. I get patronized all the time just because I’m a woman. 😤🙄

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  3. Talked to her husband instead of her? Despite his age, maybe he still thinks like the late Paul van Dalsem and too many other men. Wasn’t it van Dalsem who jokingly said that women should be kept barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen? Although van Dalsem was joking, unfortunately there are too many men who probably wished he was serious and think van Dalsem was correct about the place of women.

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  4. Ray Bell was a versatile and in demand sideman/backup musician. He also performed with Homer & Jethro; Patti Page, Trini Lopez, Ray Anthony, and Clyde McCoy. Ray didn’t like all of the traveling which he had to do as a professional musician. That was one of the reasons he took the teaching job at Boyd’s Music Store. When he was a boy, Ray’s guitar teacher was someone named Melvin Bay. This person is much better known as “Mel Bay” now.

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  5. But they won’t do everything I want? Awww! Poor Babies! Tell them to go and cry on someone else’s shoulder.

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  6. The “higher ups” or “high muckety mucks” at my place of employment are mostly women and they seem to automatically deduct ten points from my IQ simply because I am a male human being. I understand how you feel sometimes.

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  7. I guess the people who want to keep women “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen” are probably the same people who want to defund Planned Parenthood and shut it down. What do you think?

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  8. In a recent column by Paul Krugman which was reprinted in the Democrat-Gazette, Krugman claims that something called “reality” is notorious for having an anti-Trump bias.

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    • If you heard a guffaw around 2:45 yesterday afternoon coming from downtown, that was me reading that sentence on the page proof.

      It’s pretty much what i’ve been saying, but he said it so much better. 😂

      Like

  9. Pingback: Enough toxic talk | Serenity is a fuzzy belly

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