OPINION: What I Learned During My Political Detox

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Written by Carson Seeger

Two weeks ago, I decided I had had enough. Browsing through my newsfeed, seeing the same stories and arguments as three months before packaged a little differently had worn on my patience.  I was sick of de-constructing political arguments made by people who did not care about actually discussing difficult topics.

So I decided to shut it all down. I deleted Facebook from my phone. I stopped watching the news, didn’t click on links on twitter, changed my homepage from Reuters to ESPN, and when I did check social media I avoided commenting on topics that genuinely interested me, choosing instead to observe the mayhem. Instead of reading Thomas Sowell, I got re-acquainted with Philip Pullman. Life was simple and incredibly annoying.

By  observing social media and only following what’s going on in the world through a passive lens you notice a few things.

In General, People are Willfully Stupid

It’s really difficult to understand what the hell is going on in the world.  The first amendment should always be protected, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that it has not only made us more aware, but also more isolated than ever.

For most of us, our core ideological background is formed by the most influential people in our lives.  For me, that meant I grew up a traditional conservative Republican. However, my family was never very religious; personal and fiscal responsibility was valued in my family.  Naturally I grew up with strong, conservative convictions that has led me to identify (and register) as a Libertarian.  

The problem with growing up this way is that most of us lose a passion for politics early on, instead only passively following the news.  Prior to social media, right or wrong, we trusted major news outlets to provide us with fair, unbiased news.  By providing us with the facts, with very little editorializing, the reader was able to come to their own conclusions.  

Today, every ideology has a half-dozen go-to media outlets. If you’re a Republican, head to Fox News, or The Blaze.  Alt-right? Breitbart. Democrat? MSNBC. Progressive? Mother Jones is your place. Libertarian? Reason is a great source.  Most of these blogs don’t want to give you news, they want to re-enforce their ideology in order to retain, and grow, their base. This means Occupy Democrats will post a willfully ignorant meme, or article just to discredit other views, receive “likes” and draw attention to themselves.

People lose their passion for politics, but fear they need to be informed or face the social stigma of being ignorant.  The problem is we either don’t have time, or don’t want to learn about these issues.  The former is understandable, but the latter is inexcusable. Don’t just pay lip-service. Before you post anything on social media, read the article, follow the links in the article to see how credible it is, do a quick google search – are others reporting on this topic? What are they saying? If your story holds up, go ahead and share it. If not, move on. If you’re in an argument, take five minutes to read about the topic in question. Try and understand the other point of view. Not every liberal is a “libtard” and the vast majority of republicans are not “fascists.”

George Washington was the Miss Cleo of His Time

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”  – George Washington’s Farewell Address; September 17, 1796

Washington’s potent warning about the danger of political parties was ignored and today we have two incredibly powerful political parties that are basically giant corporations who are monopolizing the market.  The Republicans are like Time Warner, while the Democrats are like Comcast; both have shitty customer service, routinely lie to the customers, and raise their prices. Yet, because of regulation all alternatives are crushed.

Let’s be honest. At this point in time, we cannot realistically eliminate political parties.  But we need more of them. The big two just don’t encompass everyone’s views.  By continually voting for them, we are sending decent men and women to Washington only to see their values and views crushed because it doesn’t toe the party line.  And honestly, the alternatives are no better. No serious candidate runs as a Libertarian or a Green.  Justin Amash and Bernie Sanders could lead either party if they wanted – but rules have made third party runs unrealistic.

But even if we went to a four party system – Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and Greens – does that really solve the issue? We would probably need a party of Grahams, ManchinsCollins’, and Webb’s to identify with moderates.  

Both major parties, as well as the libertarians, are suffering from massive in-fighting because there is no possible way large, national parties can possibly represent the views of all people.

MAGA: Make Arguing Great Again

People suck at arguing with each other.

Living in our own little bubbles and being willfully stupid has created a generation of angry little sociopaths who have uninformed opinions which are being re-enforced by like-minded people who are maybe slightly more informed than themselves.  

Political parties then perpetuate and encourage this idiocy, either directly through their comments or indirectly through things like standardized tests, which force you to care about things that may, or may not, affect their day-to-day lives.  

We go through high school, and now college, without learning material that may offend.  Many teachers do not want to see their students argue about political or historical issues in their classrooms and students don’t want to be offended.  Lord protect the Christian that gets offended by someone questioning the bible or the white female feminist who is forced to defend the wage gap.

Maybe if we started encouraging intelligent debate in schools, throw in a little philosophy (to help form an ideology), and encourage kids to read Mein Kampf society would get over itself and evolve.

Next time you talk politics to someone, sit down and spend ten minutes researching their perspective.  Then research your opinion again before forming an argument.  If you’re not willing to do that, maybe take some time away from politics and find a new passion.

 


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  • imogen88

    This is an great summation of what dumbing down of society has done to our political landscape. Social media only continues us on the downward spiral as people continue to stay within their bubbles and to tear apart friendships and relationships with family over two parties which are really one and the same. We have become far too easily distracted and comfortably numb.