Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Disco(urse) is Dead!

Pardon the pun in the title revealing where I stood on the 1970's music scene, even as a pre-teen. This is not an essay about music, after all, but politics. Really, it is not about politics either, because what passes for such in this age of elected officials, pundits, bloggers and even late night talk show hosts preaching to their own particular choirs is not politics so much as it is ratings-driven demagoguery.  This is, I suppose, little more than the rant of a modern-day lunatic…otherwise known as a true Independent.

By way of full disclosure I should reveal that I have both voted for and volunteered for Democrats and Republicans alike over the course of more than twenty five years as an eligible voter, so to some of you I may bear the Scarlet ‘D’ or ‘R’ depending on your affiliation.  See, I am one of those people both sides come courting every four years when they want to garner enough votes to get them elected.  They attempt to sway us with promises of change, then forget all about us when it comes to governing, running back to their “base” again, and assuring that folks like myself will never seriously consider changing our official party registration to anything other than ‘I’.  Four years later we get to do the same dance all over again.    
 
It would be easier if I just surrendered to one side or the other, focusing on those issues from their party line with which I agree and simply ignoring those with which I do not.  An old friend of mine, a self-proclaimed Independent as well, has been spouting his vehement support for one side in the coming election via social media.  It gets him a great deal of ‘likes’, I have seen.  And I am not a natural contrarian, you know.  I’d like to get lots of ‘likes’, too.  But the truth is, I’m still thinking.  I’m allowed to do that, am I not?  They haven’t moved the election up without telling me, have they? 
 
But you see, just a few days ago that same friend, whose opinion I have always valued, told me (in colloquial terms I will not use here) that until I picked a side in this election I essentially had no place in the political debate.  He used the phrase ‘Devil’s advocate’ as if it was a call for widespread anarchy rather than the path of true discernment.  And really, in this modern-day political climate, he almost has a point.

This is an age of forced conformity like none other we have known.  True debate has been replaced by attempts to simply shout down or outspend the opposition…or even to deny the opposition the right to their opinion, whether they can voice it or not.  The vitriol coming from the far Left and far Right has served to lower the bar of the public discourse to its lowest levels since the days of the Vietnam War.  And there is no Walter Cronkite to report the goings on either, but rather we are left with what amounts to “journalism” these days, with two major news networks so unabashedly partisan in their coverage of things political that they are just a few shades of objectivity from Al-Jazeera.
 
When the televised “debates” between the presidential and vice-presidential candidates are evaluated like prize fights - the commentary almost exclusively focused on who spoke louder, who spoke more firmly, who was the aggressor and who was not - something is terribly wrong.  When the prevalence of social media fills the airwaves with little more than zingers these days, it makes the days of sound-bites seem almost idyllic by comparison.  And when intelligent people begin to see no room at the political table for those who have not vowed allegiance to one side or the other, well…we’re in trouble folks.  
 
At any rate, I’m still thinking.  And I will continue to do so for some time yet.  So there.

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