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Sunday
Jan032016

The Ideological Divide in America

Any time that I engage in a conversation with someone who profoundly professes to be a conservative or a liberal, I know the odds of a meaningful discussion happening fall off greatly. I am referring to those who govern their notions and views with a firm and overriding ideology, not by general philosophical points of view. There are merits to an individual having consistent principles, however, being an ideologue is another matter.

As it is associated with social or political movements, an ideology can be described as a body of doctrines and philosophical bases pertaining to a group or individual. Generally speaking, liberals are likened to Democrats and conservatives are likened to Republicans. Philosophical debates have often worked well in American governance as points of view clash, but then get hammered out on specific points in a system of checks and balances provided by reasonable people from both sides.

Different politicians such as Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neal managed their philosophical gap with a public and sometimes personal affability that exemplified one of the last political eras that actually worked for better or worse. The right and the left are so polarized now that any middle ground of reason has become a vast post-apocalyptic wasteland that no one from either side dares to tread into.  

One may ask if these ideological debates are now moving past the confines of reason in any number of arenas. We hear so much about gridlock and partisanship in Washington but what about in our society? The basic structures of liberalism and conservatism are being contorted into deep-seated belief systems by an increasing number of people across the country.

These entrenched beliefs are becoming evident as the increasing ideological polarization of America is manifesting itself in the form of more groups of people who have radical political agendas. These extreme positions are becoming apparent in everyday conversations as well as in some of the profiles and threads in social media. In fact, this phenomenon is often exacerbated in social media because what should be an age of free-flowing information has become a time where people circle their wagons in cyber groups that have the same style of judgment and block all of those who dare to have a different opinion.

Have you ever checked out the comment section of any major news website? The dialogue there is on many occasions bizarre, ignorant, and often frightening.

I have often stated that I am not a political creature, and one of the reasons as to why that I am not is precisely because of the extreme ideological arguments in modern politics. I do not find any ideological debate intriguing any more than I find squabbling about religion satisfying. Confronting the perceptions of self-righteousness is always particularly frustrating.

I recently had a tweet session with a liberal woman who would not concede, not even hypothetically, that a Republican could ever suggest an idea that was worth deliberation. She had completely removed from the table the possibility that anyone’s position from the outside of her political dogma was worth consideration. There are plenty of these types of closed-minded individuals on both sides of the ideological gamut.

The synchronous orbit that these staunch liberal and hard conservative axioms have around American politics has virtually removed the possibility of a multi-dimensional analysis ever being given to an issue. It is just not a matter of a compromise, often a dirty word in some circles, being lost. There are those magical moments when during an exchange of opposing ideas a new and better concept is achieved. This type of an outcome is rarely attained given today’s political ambiance. Positions on issues are now predetermined via radical ideological templates before the actual constructs of any given matter have even a moment of objective scrutiny.

I am concerned that some of these acute ideological trends are transforming into pseudo religious or even cult like syndromes. Both sides of these ideological debates are thoroughly and equally convinced that they alone behold the absolute truth. Drastic ideological positions are morphing into altered states of desired reality.

It has been said that no country has ever went to war without God on their side. Correspondingly, is this delusion of moral and ethical superiority that so many ideologues undergo setting the stage for severe social strife in our society?  How many more ways can we divide each other?

One could make the argument that our system of government does apparently work in regard to the gridlock, the partisanship, and the lack of progress in Washington. We do have a representative government and it may follow that we, as a society and a country, are getting exactly the type of representation that we deserve.

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