Here's a thought-provoking article that challenges our sanitized notions of the golden mean and it being everyone's fault equally (a narrative which sits well with a national dialogue starving for common ground of some sort, especially between moderates, but isn't necessarily accurate.)
I am constantly astounded, looking at social media, at the ability of two otherwise bright, critically-thinking people to look at the same issue and come away with completely different understandings of it. I see arguments re: the shutdown that eviscerate the Tea Party radicals for having divided mainstream Republicans and then I see political cartoons like the following with the original poster in utter, slack-jawed disbelief that anyone could possibly see it any other way:
And here we stand in the din of a national
dialogue yelling contest, with one side trying to out-shout the other and win followers in the arena of political discourse and ideological ideas. Is it all about volume, then? To hear the golden-mean-pushers that say everyone is to blame, you'd think there's no reasonable standard to which we can hold these scenarios in order to determine who's at fault. I think that's false. I think there is an answer, and I think in order to arrive at it we must first cleanse ourselves of the popular narrative that "both sides" are "dragging down America" as though their political agendas are secondary and crafted for a divided public while they sit in shrouded chambers and clink tumblers full of whiskey and chuckle at the mayhem they've caused. We must realize that politicians are a reflection of the divided constituencies which they represent, and they are a microcosm of the endless political dialogue between everyday Americans. Until we recognize this, until we break this false conception of an abstract, "them versus us" congress, any kind of attempt to arrive at a definitive answer will be fruitless.
Anyway I'm going off on tangents. Here's the first part of the article:
Let us state this unequivocally: false equivalency – the practice of giving equal media time and space to demonstrably invalid positions for the sake of supposed reportorial balance – is dishonest, pernicious and cowardly. On the other hand, according to the grassroots American Council of Liberty Loving Ordinary White People Propped Up by the Koch Brothers, the liberal media want to contaminate your precious bodily fluids and indoctrinate your children in homosocialism.
Haha, kidding. Of course, there's no such group. But false equivalency in the news has been very much, in fact, in the news lately – thanks to reporting on the US government shutdown that characterizes the impasse as the consequence of two stubborn political parties unwilling to compromise on healthcare. For instance, this was the final paragraph of a Washington Post editorial:
"Ultimately, the grown-ups in the room will have to do their jobs, which in a democracy with divided government means compromising for the common good. That means Mr Boehner, his counterpart in the Senate, Harry M Reid (D-Nev), minority leaders Sen Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Rep Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and the president. Both sides are inordinately concerned with making sure that, if catastrophe comes, the other side takes the political hit. In truth, none of their reputations stands to benefit."
Mutually obdurate pols – it's a fetching narrative, since Republicans andDemocrats are undisputedly more polarized than they've been in a century, yielding endless posturing and partisan gridlock. Except, the narrative is wrong. The shutdown is not the result of the divide between Republicans and Democrats on Obamacare: that issue has been legislated, ratified by two presidential elections, affirmed by the US supreme court and more than 40 times unrepealed by Congress.
No, the shutdown is the result of the divide between mainstream, center-right Republicans and Tea Party extremists. The latter are wrapped in suicide belts and perfectly willing to blow the GOP and the economy to kingdom come if they can: a) kill Obamacare (as if); or guarantee campaign windfalls from likeminded anti-government crackpots.
This is not gridlock. It is a hostage situation.
This is an issue I've given an immense amount of time to; I spend hours a day researching, writing about, or otherwise pondering these sorts of dilemmas. The epistemological questions behind information mediums and how ideology is formed in human beings are fascinating to me and something I could spend a lifetime trying to understand (and I suspect I will.) In any event, I found this article challenging and thought-provoking.