Thursday, May 17, 2007

Polarization of Society

I generally don't worry about the Yahoo! Answer function, but the question they posed about the political situation of America today intrigued me, so I answered it. My answer below, and I'll take a look at the issue and follow up at some point, because it's closely related to many things I've talked about before.

Why have political parties become so polarized that they fail to address the concerns of most Americans?

One answer is to look at the underlying motives of today's political leaders. What makes them believe what they believe? One answer (and certainly not the only one), is that while Democracy is the governmental system we exist under, we must look at government through the eyes of the business man, through the system of capitalism under which we have so thrived. Most issues under the dome are considered not only for what is good for the people or the nation, but also what is good for the financial goals of each congressman's constituents and the companies that have invested interest in the country.

The problem that we are having today is when the goals of the businessman become more important than the happiness, well-being, or even safety, of the citizens. It is at that point that capitalism mutates into a more sinister system. I have been calling it "Consumerism." This is a system of capitalism that focuses on short term benefits, cares nothing about the future, and sees the citizens as a resource, to use and abuse however it sees fit. Certainly there are many companies today that realize that, while the practices and decisions they make will profit them now, the cost may be the lives of its consumers, or the well-being of the planet.

Now, what this has to do with the question? It is necessary to look at the financial aspects of any decision in Washington in order to see the motives behind the support or opposition to that decision. Would funding the Iraq War be a blessing for airline makers, ammunition companies, oil and gas companies? Or would the instability of the Middle East actually hurt the economy? Money definitely has a primary role in what our congressmen decide.

Combine that with the philosophy behind Consumerism. Things must happen now, quickly, without regards to consequences in the future. The media, of course, instigates this in the continual hounding of officials about this issue or the other. The Iraq war should have been over a week after it began, and Iraq should now be a thriving country of happy capitalist free men and women who would be happy to spend their money for our benefit. Of course, it doesn't work that way. And when it doesn't, people must find some more radical action to make it happen quicker. It seems that today, people are living much more quickly in their daily lives, in their beliefs, in the way that they expect the country to run. Trials should be over in an hour, since that's the way Matlock did them. So too should wars, or negotiations, or whatever the case may be. The pendulum that so often swings from one side to the other, has been swinging more quickly in the past few years, with no need for a Hegelian synthesis of opposing viewpoints. To compromise would be to slow the pendulum down, and this cannot happen.

This is a complex question, with many answers, many different reasons why that polarization has happened in government (and not just government, but most of society has become polarized about everything. You choose only Coke, or you like either Paris or Lindsey, or you love someone or hate them.). I cannot answer this in one simple question, but I will try and look at it and give a better answer. I do have a blog: , which you are welcome to browse through. This question has given me something to think about, and to respond to, when I get around to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment