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Pragmatic politics

I've recently popped up on 304blogs (thanks, Oncee) and have been perusing some of the area bloggers' offerings. I'll not name names here, but here's a small smattering of what I've seen recently:

  • A good bit of Michael Jackson, which is to be expected — a rising tide lifts all boats, after all.
  • Some "here's what's going on in my life" stuff.
  • Lots of politics — local, national, and international.

I enjoy reading political posts. Actually, I enjoy reading all sorts of stuff. But I think what I like most about political posts is the discussion which inevitably follows. Most of the time it takes the form of either preaching to the converted or trying to convert the infidels.

My political views are not of the "us versus them" variety. I believe that's a waste of time for the most part — it is exceedingly difficult to persuade someone to the other side of the fence, as all true change comes from within. I also believe the current body politic spends much of its time fostering an "us versus them" mentality among the governed in an effort to keep the governed occupied. It's a lot easier to move forward with an agenda when no one is paying attention.

Creating a dichotomy is an easy way to achieve this, as humanity is hard-wired to resonate with an "us versus them" environment. We are, after all, animals — very clever and relatively intelligent animals, but animals nonetheless — and as such, parts of our brains older than humanity will respond to threats to the pack. It's a natural survival instinct. And they don't even have to be true threats — perceived ones will suffice. So, manufacture threats, communicate them on a mass scale (even easier in this modern digital era), and let the infighting commence. Simple.

Meanwhile, I have to wonder what's going on behind the scenes. Politics is, of course, the fine art of saying just enough. All politicians who have any sizable influence are loaded with money, and people who are loaded with money do whatever they can to maintain that status. It's probably a safe assumption that's a part of it. And yes, I realize the irony of this being an "us versus them" mentality on an entirely different level, but hey.

Overall, I think we're better off acting on a local level to bring about change instead of debating amongst ourselves about what this one said or that one did and what they really meant. Especially when, in reality, we'll probably never know the whole truth. I challenge you to find me one politician who got into a position of power through honesty, forthrightness, and valor instead of deception, ambiguity, and dishonor — not to mention stepping on others while climbing the political ladder.

I'll admit to leaning left of center as it's currently defined. I once took a test which defined me as a libertarian. The left movement and libertarianism have only been around for 160 years, though (both originating in France, interestingly enough). Greed and power have been around far longer, so it could be argued that on a large scale, they are more successful political strategies. That means that, on a large scale, ordinary pragmatists like me really don't have a chance.

So, acting locally is probably the best I can do politically. Fortunately that lines up pretty well with what I already believe. Here's to success.

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