Partisans

There are some days we just don’t like democrats and republicans, and today is one of those days. That doesn’t mean that we don’t vote like they do from time to time. We even agree with them on occasion. Most of the time we genuinely like the folks who wear the hats or put the stickers on their bumpers.

Pressed for an opinion, we might say that what we really despise is the national organizations that claim to lead the two parties which have come to dominate the country’s narratives. (When do we ever have to press anyone for an opinion these days?) Apparently a lot of people feel the same way, because the single largest group of voters in America identify as independents.

Just shy of a quarter of eligible voters say that they are republicans, and a bit less than a third say they are democrats. These numbers have been in decline over the last 15 years as the level of disgust with politics and politicians has steadily increased. It’s no coincidence that trust in media has fallen in an even steeper trajectory than trust in politicians.

If you really wanted to discuss the subject, we might go on to say that Webster defines “partisan” as “a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person, especially one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance.” If you want to get technical about it, that’s the real problem with democrats and republicans, or if you prefer, with republicans and democrats. We rarely get that far in the conversation, however. As Steven Covey said, most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

The other day we read an article by John Pavlovitz called “Pick a Hill Worth Dying On, America.” Apparently a lot of people read it. Many people posted it without reading it, which rarely happens, of course. Some of our friends gushed about it. It made us kind of ill.

Wikipedia told us that John is a pastor who writes from a “liberal Christian perspective.” If you love irony as much as we do, your spider sense is tingling right now. When there were just a few Christians in the world, they were considered the most radical of all the liberal groups that the Romans had ever seen, but like Hannah Arendt said, “The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”

Back to the article in question. It does have some positive things to say about good people crossing the lines of politics, faith and race in order to do good things. However, the primary “good thing” we’re encouraged to die on the hill for, is to do whatever is necessary to avert the disaster currently being visited upon us.

You might not be aware of the disaster to which the author refers, and be advised: If you’re not currently experiencing a “paralyzing funk of grief and sadness and disbelief,” then chances are you’re complicit in the litany of evils the article mentions. Or so the author would have us believe.

It’s not our intention to single out this article in an effort to call out liberals or democrats. There are many examples of similar articles written from a conservative or republican perspective (though we stopped reading Fox News when they started reporting Miley Cyrus’ latest fling right below their own righteous indignation section). Such offerings follow a similar pattern that aligns almost perfectly with the Karpman Drama Triangle of victim, rescuer, and persecutor.

Let’s take a short trip around the triangle. The “nazis” are marching in the streets again. We’re tired of being victimized by the nazis and we’re not going to take it anymore, so we’re going to pick a hill to die on to save humanity. Everyone wants to be either a victim or a rescuer, but nobody wants to be a persecutor. Too bad. The triangle is always on the move. The only way to rescue the victims is to persecute the persecutor, which makes us the persecutor and the persecutor becomes the victim.

Around and around we go, from democrat to republican governments and back again. Meanwhile the apolitical types are laughing at us, all the way to the bank, which, after all, is a very, very short trip indeed.

The good pastor’s article was not remarkable in its sanctimony. Not remarkable at all. Conpublicans and reservatives should not feel victimized by it, unless they have forgotten their own insufferable righteousness in their past treatment of Libocrats and Demerals, and by “past” we mean yesterday, though their own pharisaical attitude reached a crescendo when the “Moral Majority” set the agenda in Washington. What goes around has a strong tendency to come around.

We’re waiting, ever waiting, for someone to rediscover a more humble path for the redemption of whatever ills are considered to be plaguing the nation. We might begin with a deep breath of gratitude for the luxury of being able to consider such questions from the air conditioned comfort of our living rooms, minus the distraction of exploding American made munitions around us, or the necessity of carrying a bucket of water on our heads for a few miles so our children can have a drink.

From gratitude we might move on to empathy for our fellow citizens and the admission, as much as it galls us, that they also have a right to their opinions; that those opinions are just as carefully considered as our own, and that they are just as sincere in their efforts to affect change as we are in ours.

It would serve us well not to linger on our disagreements. We have mapped those out quite clearly. Let’s focus instead on our common ground and see if we can expand that.

In the meantime, whenever we encounter a voice reminiscent of a Civil War preacher from either side of the War Between the States, a voice that encourages us to partisanship, a voice that extols us to die on a hill in service of a Great Cause, a voice that opens a broad, indiscriminate, vilifying umbrella over a group of voters or a political party or a way of thinking, a voice that raises straw men and invites us to knock them down, we should ignore that voice.

Better still, we should laugh at it. “There is no compromise with evil,” say the voices of those people standing in the “light.” (Or at least the spotlight. ) We think they doth protest too much. Maybe they are closer to true evil than they would care to admit. So go ahead and laugh. It relieves the stress, and it’s also an ancient “litmus test” of sorts. The devil, said our ancestors, relishes anger, fear, and conflict, but he can’t stand to be laughed at.

Judge for yourself. Here’s the article that provided the helium for my balloon this week (I’m hearing “chipmunk” voices vis-à-vis helium ingestion). Cheer, snarl, or have a good chuckle.

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