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EvanR
EvanR Dork
12/11/15 3:00 a.m.

I got involved in a political discussion with several co-workers today. I won't say the specific topic nor who took which side because I do not want this to become a political thread, which would be (rightfully) shut down by the moderators.

What I found profoundly disturbing was the speed with which the discussion became irrational as well as the depth of irrationality reached. Both sides spouted off "facts" that were only backed by perceptions, not hard data. Voices were raised, and long-term friendships threatened.

I believe the foundation of the United States, and its greatest strength for over 200 years, was the ability and willingness for true discourse - exchanges of thoughts, positions, and ideas. Not that this was the case in every single situation. Humans are not perfect, and deep passions can lead to irrationality - that's human nature, but it was mostly kept in check for two centuries.

If discourse was indeed the foundation of this nation, and what made it strong and well-respected over the past 240 years... and feel free to correct me if you disagree... and my perception that the days of the ability to have civil discourse are behind us is correct, what does the USA have left to stand on? And if we as a nation have nothing left to stand on, how much longer can we stand?

Kia_Racer
Kia_Racer Dork
12/11/15 3:54 a.m.

You should try being a moderate and live in TX. Most of the people I have talked politics with think I am a liberal.

I have often wondered what happened to all the moderates that used to populate the USofA. It seems today that everyone wants you to be all the way to the right or left. If you are a moderate today you are just thought of as wishy-washy.

Just my $0.02

joey48442
joey48442 PowerDork
12/11/15 4:14 a.m.
Kia_Racer wrote: You should try being a moderate and live in TX. Most of the people I have talked politics with think I am a liberal. I have often wondered what happened to all the moderates that used to populate the USofA. It seems today that everyone wants you to be all the way to the right or left. If you are a moderate today you are just thought of as wishy-washy. Just my $0.02

My friends call me "on the fence" Joel... They mean it as an insult, but I don't take it that way.

Joey

oldopelguy
oldopelguy SuperDork
12/11/15 4:44 a.m.

It's not just you; I've noticed more and more that people don't seem as willing or able to differentiate between a person and their ideas.

I have good friends who are friends specifically because we have very different views on certain things and can each talk about those things, to each other, and actually gain in our understanding of the other points of view.

Being able to like or love someone despite their different opinions on some random topic is a dying art. Between someone being offended by a different opinion and the immediate -ist-ing (sexist, racist, elitist, leftist, socialist, etc...) no one is willing to actually say what they really think or listen to what someone else thinks.

The0retical
The0retical Dork
12/11/15 4:58 a.m.

I think what you're seeing is the effect of making nuanced issues black and white then using rhetoric to polarize the electorate in order to gain personal power. Look at any comments section, you'll always see "Idiot republicans" and the "Libtard" titles thrown around because people have bought into that nonsense and it makes them feel like they are part of the "in group" and thus more enlightened/intelligent/freedom loving than the other group.

I was highly offended by the news the other day carrying on about how "Republicans only care about the Second Amendment at the expense of all the rest." Have we seriously reached that point where you have to agree with with your ruling parties basket of issues or you're on the other side?

None of this is going to change until the perception that either you vote for a major party or you're wasting your vote changes. I'll end it here because my disdain for both parties has reached a level where I'm not even sure I can bring myself to vote anymore. Rifts in society will always exist, and that is healthy, but until the electorate sees the vast majority of the political class as only being there for their own benefit nothing will change.

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
12/11/15 5:37 a.m.

It isn't surprising since "news" is no longer news. In the quest for ratings to support its own existence, media is dominated by entertainment and opinion. Also "repeaters" who cull the vast Internet looking to highlight stories that fit one narrative, and burying those that do not.

Rather than digging in and doing the work necessary to check facts and tell a story.. any story, it is merely a quest for headlines. It's effectively a big dick contest. All I can say is that there are many.

Grtechguy
Grtechguy MegaDork
12/11/15 5:49 a.m.

I've compared the U.S. to the Roman Empire more than once. Only can hope, vote, and try to make changes to change the outcome.

KyAllroad
KyAllroad SuperDork
12/11/15 6:06 a.m.

My hope is actually for technology to save us on this one. As tablet/computer/smartphones reach saturation levels in our nation why do we still need to elect "representatives" to serve our interests? Imagine having the power of Congress in your hands, every morning your phone asks you to make a few decisions about how things need to go and the big giant supercomputer tells the chief executive EXACTLY what the people want. But without a political label, no donkeys or elephants, just straightforward answers to straightforward questions.

Of course I realize this is 100% fantasy (even cribbed the idea from a sci do book) but the every increasing polarization that we all see does tend to get one down after a while.

petegossett
petegossett GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/11/15 6:10 a.m.

As a non-sports fan I see quite a similarity between the two. It's largely an irrational and emotional fervor for your "team" regardless of whether or not they're any good. So it makes perfect sense, given the economic scope of professional sports, that a high percentage of the already large number of sports fans would approach politics with the same mindset they approach sports with.

I'm afraid that's just part of human nature - only there's been a growing trend over the past decades for the media to fan the flames in the pursuit of profit, rather than actually report.

foxtrapper
foxtrapper UltimaDork
12/11/15 6:14 a.m.

Read some history. Tantrums have always been a part of our species. Especially when it comes to things like politics.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill PowerDork
12/11/15 6:16 a.m.

I blame it on television.

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
12/11/15 6:25 a.m.

24 hour news has definitely lead to a declined society as they have to fill that time with something. At least in prime time its just a load of peoples opinions.

Over thanksgiving we were having a discussion about the presidential race when my niece and nephew both got mad and were going to leave. It was a very civil discussion. My nephew basically said to vote for anyone but (name left out) shows how uneducated we all are. Of course I have an advanced degree and my sister is a PHD dean of a college. They had no desire at all to discuss ideas and didn't know how to handle it. Forget politics...but this my friends scarced the crap out of me for our country's future. The OP is correct. Where has the ability to disagree gone?

In my job I deal with a huge number of other countries, both first and third world, and many people simply have no clue to how good we have it here.

mazdeuce
mazdeuce PowerDork
12/11/15 6:25 a.m.

Stubbornness and reluctance to change isn't new. Growing up I thought the increase in information I saw around me would make change more likely. What I didn't expect was the echo chamber provided by listening to your news source of choice.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/11/15 6:36 a.m.
KyAllroad wrote: My hope is actually for technology to save us on this one. As tablet/computer/smartphones reach saturation levels in our nation why do we still need to elect "representatives" to serve our interests? Imagine having the power of Congress in your hands, every morning your phone asks you to make a few decisions about how things need to go and the big giant supercomputer tells the chief executive EXACTLY what the people want. But without a political label, no donkeys or elephants, just straightforward answers to straightforward questions. Of course I realize this is 100% fantasy (even cribbed the idea from a sci do book) but the every increasing polarization that we all see does tend to get one down after a while.

It could be done, this was even tried in a little Scandinavian town. Google has an E-democracy platform they use to make decisions within the company:

http://www.tdcommons.org/dpubs_series/79/

Note that there's no need for a chief executive middleman - Google's system doesn't have them. I think the hardest part of transitioning to such a system will be doing away with the secret ballot, because it would be pretty much impossible in such a system. Strong laws against vote coercion would be needed. This would also be a great application for blockchain technology, which would be a great tool against any kind of vote tampering.

petegossett
petegossett GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/11/15 6:39 a.m.

In reply to mazdeuce:

The biggest problem with the increase of information was/is the significantly larger increase of disinformation, and the difficulty in trying to distinguish between the two.

Spoolpigeon
Spoolpigeon UberDork
12/11/15 6:43 a.m.

The number one reason I don't really follow politics in because it is the one topic that seems to have the ability to rip family and friends apart. It's difficult to have a discussion about it without someone getting upset because you don't agree with their views. So I tend to keep my views/opinions to myself and just go vote.

The_Jed
The_Jed PowerDork
12/11/15 6:44 a.m.
petegossett wrote: In reply to mazdeuce: The biggest problem with the increase of information was/is the significantly larger increase of *disinformation*, and the difficulty in trying to distinguish between the two.

^THIS!!!

The_Jed
The_Jed PowerDork
12/11/15 6:45 a.m.

Also I'm a Canadian trapped in an American's body.

WildScotsRacing
WildScotsRacing Reader
12/11/15 6:46 a.m.

I believe this is all a result of the school systems, as a group beginnig about 1990 or so, starting to teach kids (from K through doctorate) that how you "feel" about something is the only thing that matters in life, and further more, "we will teach you exactly HOW you should feel about everything". Critical Thinking and rational thought process is no longer ALLOWED to be taught; teachers actually get fired doing so. So we now have two full generations of adults who, for the most part, cannot, will not, refuse to even attempt to reason out an issue with scientific method. They can tell you what something looks like, but cannot actually define it. Ergo: sheeple.

Flight Service
Flight Service MegaDork
12/11/15 6:47 a.m.

You know there is a graph for that....

Notice the huge lunge to the right by the red graph in 2008...

63% of the people view the other side as a threat to the country. No room for discussion or compromise.

To those on the ideological right and left, compromise now means that their side gets more of what it wants.

The more you pay attention the more the don't like things....Imagine that. Polarization of America 2014 Pew Research

EDIT: Please not the change in data collected year. They jumped a few years...

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/11/15 6:50 a.m.

Ever see one of those "Man on the Street" type interviews where they stop John Public and ask things like, Who fought in the Civil War? or Who is the current vice President?

I too fear for our future....

chandlerGTi
chandlerGTi UltraDork
12/11/15 6:51 a.m.

I stay away from political discussion, I figure it's a sure fire way to not piss someone off. The ability to agree to disagree has vanished and we are all the worse for it. At my shop the tv always gets tuned to CNN or Fox News somehow and there is the sound of raised voices and scraping chairs coming fom the showroom; lifetime would be a better choice for these guys.

It's not just politics, everyone is an expert on whatever they want to talk about and there is no room for disagreement. Human nature is sickening.

Flight Service
Flight Service MegaDork
12/11/15 6:55 a.m.
914Driver wrote: Ever see one of those "Man on the Street" type interviews where they stop John Public and ask things like, Who fought in the Civil War? or Who is the current vice President? I too fear for our future....

The most recent one I saw was the King Jame Bible was read to self-proclaimed Christians but they were told it was the Koran and they filmed their comments.

bentwrench
bentwrench Dork
12/11/15 6:57 a.m.

The two party system is failing, instead of fixing things they just blame each other.

RealMiniParker
RealMiniParker UltraDork
12/11/15 6:57 a.m.
The0retical wrote: None of this is going to change until the perception that either you vote for a major party or you're wasting your vote changes. I'll end it here because my disdain for both parties has reached a level where I'm not even sure I can bring myself to vote anymore. Rifts in society will always exist, and that is healthy, but until the electorate sees the vast majority of the political class as only being there for their own benefit nothing will change.

I know I couldn't have said it better.

It has gotten to the point that I've felt like I was voting for the lesser of two evils (because, really, do independents have a chance?). In the end though, a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil.

I don't know if I'll vote, this time around. Our country is going down the E36 M3 pipe, and my vote won't change that.

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