Friday, November 12, 2010
The Problem with Us is Them
The American Psyche is crippled, if not paralyzed, by the constant self-declarations and designations of "us" and "them." In fact, there need not be a "them" in American politics, at least not if "we" truly want to change the absurd, and largely impotent, system of partisan politics. It would be political suicide for a lone or even a few Republican congressmen to accept President Obama's reach across the aisle, even if their convictions permitted. President Obama, although he can and has acted by example, cannot suddenly change the efficacy of Congress. Popular media vilify rogues, and the voters follow. The only way to change the system, what George Saunders eloquently dubbed, the "braindead megaphone," is to change our behavior. And behavior change requires a complete mutiny and damnation of the manner by which Congressional progress has eked along and been perceived since its inception. Early in our history, it was probably adaptive for us to have "us" nearly Americans and "them" English royalty. And, we made progress away from a monarch, house of lords, and unrepresented taxation. Yet this setup, like our Puritanical heritage has been toxic to preserve. Less than 100 years after we became we, we divided ourselves into us Southerners and them Northerners. I do not expect or even hope to find a consensus on most issues in American politics, however, digging into convictions of sound bites to defend "our side" leaves us stuck in a country full of ruts. I fantasize about a future in which we might regard "us" as earthlings, or even wilder, "Spirits of the Universe," all on the same team. But, I would be so thrilled if we started with "us" Americans, and truly pursued life, liberty, and happiness, not for ourselves, but for our fellow citizens, our only foe being divisiveness.