In the wake of the attacks in Paris and the subsequent hyperventilating about Syrian refugees, I overheard a coworker saying that ISIS would be welcome to pull a similar stunt at the Democratic national convention. Shall I start with the implications? This federal employees is fine with the notion that Democratic party leadership be wiped out? That leadership includes the President, in case we weren’t paying attention. Also, how are you any different than ISIS if you are willing to entertain the death of someone with different opinions than you as acceptable?
Ok, I’m sure he was being hyperbolic, I don’t suspect he would go out and pull the trigger himself, but speech matters. What we think matters.
Much adrenaline later, I’m wondering if we haven’t reached the limits of pluralism. People are tribal, it has always been so. The more interconnected the world becomes, the harder we seem to cling to our tribes. I was going to go back to the 50’s as an era when the political parties in America could at least talk to each other reasonably, but then Joseph McCarthy came to mind and shot that bit of fantasy down. Our politics has always been contentious. There has always been a tension between the traditionalists who look backwards for solutions and progressives who look forward for solutions. Rarely have the traditionalists ended up on the right side of history: slavery, civil rights, gender equality, the environment, the economy, military adventures… Whenever we try to do more of what’s been done before, it doesn’t turn out well.
Part of me is tired of the outrage, the constant bafflement at how otherwise decent human beings lose all capacity for reason when faced with politics. I want to go to my corner where we can talk about out-thinking ISIS instead of out-bombing them, where we use more creative disruption like the dancing DC cop and less stuff that goes boom. I want to hang out with people who are smart and compassionate and mind their own goddamn business when it comes to my party parts. They don’t have to agree with me, but they can’t be content with doing the same old shit expecting new outcomes. And if we could resettle the world, give half of it to my tribe and the other half to the assholes who think heading back in time is the right answer and anyone who disagrees with them is fair game for target practice… I bet it would take less than a decade for the traditionalists to either self destruct or come begging to live in the world my tribe creates.
Not the most plural thing I’ve ever come up with, but the provocation was severe.