The Rapidly Disappearing Center in American Politics (Or Are You a Political Cultist on Facebook & Twitter?)
Over the last several months I’ve found myself moving from a staunch partisan to someone more independent without anyone in the political arena to speak for me. I think a good deal of this was recognizing how biased popular media (NPR, Huffington Post, all the Nightly News programs, Reddit, etc.) were to one side of the argument & seeking out sources from the other side (Breitbart, Drudge Report, Voat, etc.). Now I stake out a case by case individualistic political agenda, unrepresented by any popular leader.
The way I see it Americans are all too busy conforming to ever-more rigid, dogmatic & divisive agendas. Where is the party for free thinkers? I consider myself a free speech, pro-abortion, anti-affirmative action, environmentalist, non-interventionist, anti-Cultural Marxist, vegetarian, pro-equality atheist who has close Muslim friends but also recognizes the existential threat of Radical Islam & who recognizes the value immigrants bring to the United States but also recognizes the importance of entering the country legally. I know that's a mouthful & what's more, a narrow niche but certainly there are many of us who prefer our individual philosophies served a la carte.
Does this fall into the middle ground somewhere; you know the place that’s been shrinking so much lately? I feel like I don’t want to commit fully to either side & I’m stuck between factions of propaganda spewing cultists incapable of stepping into or having conversation in, you know, the rapidly disappearing middle ground.
This hasn't been an easy transition. I've recently returned to Facebook, even though I despise the memes & the inanity of the site. I wanted to just promote my literature but BAM! I was socked in the face by shocking levels of rude, partisan political propaganda. I happen to live in a city that's on the left so I found myself defending the right-wing position for the sake of letting the air out of the echo chamber. This is funny however since, as you can see above, I'm far from a card-carrying conservative (pro-abortion, atheist, environmentalist, etc.). It's just that the conversation was so far from the middle & so bigoted towards those with differing opinions that I felt like I had to speak out for those who were being heavy-handedly bullied by propaganda & name-calling. The intolerance was scary to be frank. For instance, I saw an acquaintance (a local filmmaker) threaten to ban dissenters & remove them from his life (which he did by the way).
I still find myself shocked & honestly a little traumatized by it all because I grew up in a world where the right-wingers were the chauvinistic bullies. They were the ones to silence dissent, censor art, bully & provoke conflict. Now I'm seeing an even fiercer level of this same intolerance coming from the left. Keep in the mind that I'm not saying one side are the "good guys" & one side are "the bad guys" in the long run. It seems this is the famous "pendulum swing" where extremism occurs from one end of the political spectrum for a while, resentment builds & then it's met by an equal & opposite reaction on the other side (.ie political correctness giving way to "The Trump Effect").
Finally I'll ask folks on both sides to check yourself for any of these Signs You're in a Cult sourced from excellent articles in The Atlantic, SGBERMAN & Christian Courier :
1. Dissent & Discussion Discouraged (a BIG one among some people on Facebook)
2. Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving
3. Doctrine must not be questioned
4. All your friends believe just like you do
5. Seeking inappropriate loyalty to leaders
6. Dishonoring friends & family
7. Polarization of members
Stay cool & calm out there my friends. These are troubled times we're living in but I want you all to be happy, healthy & know where to set appropriate boundaries between yourself as an individual & the sweeping force of The Herd's agendas.
From a Black Hole Inside the Mad Dimension,