Filosofa Thinks …

snowflakeI don’t really mind being called a ‘snowflake’ … snowflakes are beautiful, each one unique, delicate and lacy.  The term in itself does not offend me.  However, I resent the meaning that has been attached to the term, resent the fact that people who would call me this assume they know how I think on every issue, when they will not even be bothered to take a moment to listen to me.  Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I have referred to as ‘The Great Divide’ in our society.

In doing a bit of research, I found articles about what is now called ‘hyper-partisanship’ dating back to 2012, during the time of the election in which President Obama was running for his second term of office.  Wikipedia defines hyper-partisanship as “A sharply polarized situation in which political parties are in fierce disagreement with each other.”  Sounds about right. I would add, “… to the extent that neither is willing to listen to the other or even consider compromise.”

Our two-party system has been around since 1796, although both parties have evolved throughout the years.  The two-party system is not, in and of itself, a bad thing, and in fact may well be the only thing that stands between a democratic republic and a dictatorship.  However, even the best of concepts, taken too far, can spell disaster.  Today, the two parties seem diametrically opposed.  There is no longer any middle ground, no longer any place for those who are not radically opposed to all the ideas of the other.  No one side is 100% right, nor 100% wrong, but there is no room in the middle. The space that used to be the middle, the moderates, is gone, leaving in its place a wide chasm – a no man’s land.

great divide-2During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Thomas Jefferson was away in France, but he nonetheless objected to a formal provision in the Constitution for a two-party system, saying …

jefferson-2“Men are naturally divided into two parties. those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all power from them into the hands of the higher classes [and] those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise, depository of the public interests.’’

230 years ago, yet those words seem to perfectly define today’s two parties, the Republicans and the Democrats.  The Great Divide may be a bigger problem for the continuity of the United States than even the person currently sitting in the Oval Office, for he will be gone soon enough, but the divisiveness in this nation will remain.  What happened to those who, just a few short years ago, were considered moderates?  The went to the left, or to the right … they were actually pushed left or right, as there could be no middle ground.

Though I largely blame the current occupant of the Oval Office for the depth of the divide, in truth, it has been a long time coming.  I could write a small book on the history that has led to this moment, and perhaps I shall do so one day, but for this humble post, I am limited by constraints of time and space, and would prefer to focus the remainder on … how can we fix it?  Or can we?

Obviously the divergence of socio-political ideologies is not going away, so we must find ways to work within that framework.  The solution must come from two groups:  the federal government AND We The People.  Yes … WE. The. People. Obviously there need to be level heads in government to fix that which is broken, but who chooses those heads?  We do.  The heads need to understand that their job is to re-unite a nation divided, to heal the wounds of the past 10 years or so, and to sincerely debate the issues, arriving at solutions that, if they do not please everybody, at least accommodate the citizens.  Healthcare, for instance … no healthcare plan that causes 24 million people to lose their insurance coverage can be considered viable.

The next thing that leaders in Congress and the executive branch must do is remove the influences of big business and lobbyist groups from both the election process and the legislative process.  As it currently stands, big business and lobbyists give millions, nay billions, to candidates who, in exchange, promote the interests of those businesses and lobbyists in legislation.  This is not … I repeat this is NOT … a service or a benefit to We The People.  Elections need to be about what the people of this nation stand for, not what will put more profit in the hands of CEO’s and the NRA.

And then we come to us … me, you, the family down the street.  We played a large role in creating the Great Divide … now it is time for us to put away our petty differences, our greedy desires and try to help heal a nation torn asunder.  We must, once again, remember that we are all in this together and sometimes we may not like decisions that are made, but it is a nation of We The People, not ‘I The Person’.

What can we do?  First and foremost, we can … we must … educate ourselves, at least in the most basic ways in which our government works.  Then we must take it upon ourselves to learn about candidates, not just in presidential elections, but perhaps even more important, in the elections of our senators and representatives to Congress.  We must realize that everything we see on social media should be considered false information unless it can be verified through reliable sources.  98% of it cannot, therefore it is a falsehood.  We must stop listening to friends, relatives, and Facebook groups, take out our brains, dust them off and learn to think for ourselves.  That done, we must then vote for the candidate whose ideology seems destined to help the nation … it may not seem to help you as an individual at the moment, but if it helps the nation, it is still in your best interest. We must all learn to think on a more global, more long-term basis.

The other thing we all must do is learn to listen.  My observation in the past year, and I admit to being guilty of this also, is that we only listen to those whose ideas mirror our own.  We cut off ideas that we disagree with, boycott information that is contrary to our own ideology, and close not only our ears, but our minds to the thoughts of others.  What if, instead of saying “you’re wrong”, we said, “okay, but tell me why you feel that way”.  Or … “but what if …?”  We might just find that our beliefs are not as different as we thought.

Okay, yes, I know that by now you are saying, “Wow … Filosofa done gone and lost her marbles … she thinks she’s Miss Pollyanna.”  No … I am a realist, a pragmatist, and I know this is all pie-in-the-sky for most people.  But the reality is that this nation is ripe at the moment for a strong, autocratic leader to come in and completely change the structure of the democracy (democratic-republic, for those politico purists) that we have enjoyed for 230 years.  Donald Trump is not, was not, that leader, for his flaws are many and his honesty is a joke.  However, if somebody such as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin, or Norbert Hofer, someone with intellect, charisma and dreams of grandeur were to appear on the scene, I can easily see the demise of the United States of America that we have always known.  I know my solutions are pipe dreams, but perhaps they make us start to think … perhaps at least it is time for us to wake up and acknowledge that we have a real problem and that each and every one of us must contribute to the solution.  All I ask is that you think about it.

23 thoughts on “Filosofa Thinks …

  1. A post I can nod my head to over and over again, intelligently crafted Jill and deep in resonance to the heritage of your nation.
    ‘Snowflake’?…… Errr…..Insult?…..Not very bright are they. Let us consider the Snowflake:
    (a) No two are the same
    (b) They are beautiful works of Nature.
    (c) OK Guys on ‘Der Rr-ite’ (as opposed to thinking folk who have Right of Centre politics)…I’ll explain this slowly. Snowflakes. Lotsa them fall, see. Dat’s sssnow. And you know what happens with lotsa snow dontcha? It’s a big very mighty event, and it covers da land, see an’ not even snowplow kant clear it away, see..Dats lotsa sssnowflakes, see
    (Do you think I used too many big words there Jill?).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. you’re no snowflake. Your thoughts are as hard and sharp as steel. Your intellect is impressive, and your compassion runs deep. And yet, in your conclusions in this post, I must totally disagree. For all it’s faults your democracy is the best of all bad systems of government. In England, the last time we had a s’strong man’ was during WWII when Churchill ruled supreme under the King, but as soon as the war was won Churchill was booted out. Democracy and a ‘strong leader’ may well be mutually exclusive paradigms. Still, as always, you have made me think. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • You, Jack Collier, made me grin from ear-to-ear! Thank you for that compliment! And since my purpose is almost always to provoke thought … you doubled the compliment. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      As to your assessment of our democracy being the best system of government … I agree that, in theory, it is at least among the best. But right now, in practice, I’m afraid it is in shambles. Democracy in this country, as defined by a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, is laughable, since most of Congress and all of the executive branch have simply kicked aside the wishes of the majority of the people. Those of us who do not fall into that magical top 1% are irrelevant … at least until the next election. It will be interesting to see where we go from here, but I suspect major change will take place within the next two years. For better or for worse? Who knows … I can no longer predict.

      Thanks again for giving me a much-needed boost, my friend! ❤

      Like

  3. Jill, great post. I had not heard the term in this context. You are right that we have always had partisan politics, yet it has gotten worse. I can trace it back to the “news segmentation” started with Fox in 1996 and heightened by the Internet, where you can find kindred souls. This caused the creation of the term RINO, which was meant to belittle those who collaborated. DINO is not used as much, but the sentiment has grown.

    What we need is greater collaboration, not less. The extreme parts of the GOP and an increasing number of Dems are at odds with collaboration. Washington is broken because of these extremists, which had been heightened by folks like Cruz and Trump. Cruz cannot be part of the solution, as he represents the problem.

    So, we must celebrate collaboration and not condone partisanship, even when it is leaning on your direction. That is my two cents. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • I fully agree with you, Keith. It is often hard to do … sometimes we are so convinced that we are right that we aren’t willing to even listen to an opposing opinion, let alone find common ground as a foundation for compromise. But if we are to heal the wounds of the past few years, we must do just that. Otherwise, and history bears this out, the solution to bringing this nation together again will end up being a threat from outside.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Jill,

    I am a nasty woman and a snowflake. Here I am, a former registered republican for well over 25 years but in 2016, I became an independent. I am part of that resistance who likes the truth, facts, science. Now I can go around with my pink pussycat ears hats, protest signs while I attend various marches, take time to blog, contact legislators, media and other DDT resistant groups by any possible methods. AND I am definitely not paid and I am not alone in all of this.

    It is the republican party that has forgotten peoples like me. They prefer to cater to the alt-right folks which translates into a party that I can’t embrace This party has lost its moral authority, its stand for principles, its soul..

    And yes, it is up to all of us to bring the Trump voters into the fold. (those not part of alt-right) . We are all “see me now” voters which means we want a properly, competently running government that is responsive to the needs of average wage earners.

    We can unite to make a difference. But if we are divided, our power of huge numbers is diminished.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 3 people

    • No, you are not alone! There are millions of us ‘nasty women’ and ‘snowflakes’ out there, and I am proud to be one! (though, sadly, I have no pink pussycat ear hat 😥 ). But you are correct … as the saying goes, “united we stand, divided we fall”. And we are so divided right now that it is truly frightening. We no longer have faith in Congress to breach the divide, so we must make the effort on whatever scale we can. I just hope we can convince people to listen, and to demand better from our elected representatives. I currently have trouble thinking of them as our representatives, as they are doing a lousy job representing us!

      Hugs!!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well said. Jefferson’s comment is particularly apt, but I do think there are still moderates among us, but they may have withdrawn form the political process out of disgust. They may well be the ones who are simply sick and tired of all the squabbling and party politics and have decided it’s not worth the trouble.; The question is how to get them involved again. I suspect it will take serious problems that affect them directly — like higher food prices in the stores or the unavailability of goods and services that they take for granted. These things may well result from climate change, of course. Then the question is whether it will be too late. And, no, you are not Pollyanna, but you are more optimistic than I am, I fear. Thanks for the excellent post! I will pass it along to my Facebook friends.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Hugh! 🙂
      Yes, I imagine there are still moderates out there, but they are, as you say, sick and tired and likely feel they have no voice. I once considered myself to be a political moderate … I am not sure when I leaned farther to the left, but surely within the last decade. I think much of the irrational hatred toward Obama began pushing me further toward the left, and the 2016 election campaigns completed the process. I would just like to see a nation with a variety of ideologies, yet presented with sanity and rationality. As for my optimism … some days I am, other days not at all. Yesterday, obviously, I was. 🙂 Thanks again for sharing my post with your Facebook friends! I greatly appreciate it!

      Like

  6. I have learned something new again: “snowflake” as an insult?! Really? I just googled it and could not stop shaking my head. Really really? Oh well, I guess there are worse words that can be flung at you. Snowflake… I probably am one too. – But what they do forget: there is more than one kind of snowflake – there are the big fluffy ones that are soft and melt instantly, but there are also the ones that are small, icy and hard and sting like hell when they hit you! And never underestimate the power of a blizzard!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well I learned something new also! Upon reading your comment, I also Googled the word ‘snowflake’ just to see what it said … and I learned the current use of it as a slur against us liberals actually dates back to the Nazis! Who knew??? Sigh … they just have to take one of natures beautiful works and turn it into something ugly, don’t they? But I DO like your analogy of those small, icy, stinging flakes … yes, let the name-callers beware! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I noticed during the elections you had two smaller parties standing.Perhaps one of those could hold the middle ground you need, may even have ideas that will appeal. More people would have the chance to hear their message if your Government passed a bill limiting the amount that can be spent on an election in each state to prevent big business throwing money at their favoured candidate.Maybe the Government could even pay the candidates their election monies to spend and disallow anything further from being spent so all candidates have a level playing field and their policies might then count more than all the election ballyhoo at the moment.
    I could be nice knowing the people own the candidates and not big business like the NRA.
    We’ve been talking (as usual)about limiting election expenditure in my country too for the same reasons
    xxx Cwtch Mawr xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that was Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party. Both started out fairly strong, but made serious bumbles along the way … stupid ones, really, like when Johnson was being interviewed, he was asked to name a leader he looked up to. He hemmed and hawed, but couldn’t name one. So the interviewer then asked him to just name any world leader that he had heard of … and he couldn’t even do that! Could not think of a single world leader! Stein, I believe, did something like handcuffing herself to a bulldozer during one of the Dakota Access protests. Sigh. But the reality is, even if they had been stronger candidates, the system is rigged heavily against a third party. There are repressive ballot access requirements making it difficult for a third party candidate to get on the ballot in many states. Then there are the debate rules, which state a candidate must be polling at least 15% in order to participate in a debate. I understand the reason for these rules, as we do not want 200 names on the ballot, nor 200 bodies on the stage of a debate, but they also restrict viable candidates.

      I really like your idea of the government issuing a certain amount of campaign money and the candidates not being allowed to spend anything more. It certainly WOULD level the playing field. At one time, we had at least some limits on donations to candidates from businesses and lobbying groups, but Citizens United did away with that. We definitely need some election reform in this country! But we are not likely to see it with the current batch in Congress. Maybe someday …

      Cwtch Mawr, my friend!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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