No, I’m not Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, calling cadence while marching my platoon of “maggots” around Parris Island. I’m simply repeating the monotonous drone of the mainstream media and the endless panels of political pundits who never fail to reinforce what we’ve been indoctrinated with our entire lives – that we have two choices when it comes to all things political: Left or Right. Red or blue. Coke or Pepsi. Of all the lies in politics, this one is arguably the single most pernicious, as its fundamental offering is to set up the game board in such a way as to artificially control the movement of the pieces. While not the first stone I overturned when I began this line of research, recognizing this fallacy has been central to shifting my political paradigm and influencing how I interpret almost everything else that follows. Like a slob-turned-health nut who has replaced his formerly toxic diet with whole foods, the thought of returning to this left-right junk food not only makes me ill, but it frustrates me to see so many people getting fat and killing themselves with the empty calories of this false paradigm.
For many people on both sides of the left-right fence, it doesn’t compute for them when we talk and I present this view. There’s usually a silent pause accompanied by a blank look, followed by a resumption of whatever default argument was being referenced, almost like a computer program that simply ignores indecipherable code rather than handle the errors resulting from it. To be sure, my own political awareness once moved along these lines, in varying states of support for certain issues for which I held opinions, but, mixed with a general disinclination to bother with what I regarded as a glad-handing system of career phonies.
Without getting drawn into a detailed, exploded view diagram of my own political obstacle course (a subject in need of its own dedicated blank page), it’s sufficient to say that I, too, was a part of the unfortunate process by which so many of us have been sidelined into this inaccurate way of thinking. The left/liberal/democrat vs. right/conservative/republican model has been drilled into our heads from our earliest days and continually reinforced so that, even if you cognitively recognize the deficiency of such a dichotomy in expressing your political will, you very nearly can’t escape it, because to do so, you have to dismiss the very premise with which political information is delivered to you. Sure, third parties are name-checked and the more salient planks of their platforms considered and given some selective credence, but even as this is done, the political liquor is still poured through the gravity filter of the orthodox paradigm, and drained into one of two chambers from which we’re peer pressured into drinking. Argue as we might over which spirit has the superior flavor, both liquids have equally within them the power to make us blurry-eyed, disconnected and stupid.
So, what makes this system “false”, to what end does it lead, why is it important, and what’s the alternative? Well, now – that’s what the next post is for…