Exhaustion

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email

We, as Americans, cherish the freedom and right to disagree—which we do, often deeply about important issues that need resolution. But polarization undermines that freedom by tightening prejudices rather than opening thought, thus diminishing the chances for finding resolutions and moving forward.  So while polarization may feel like a righteous champion of freedom and right, it is in fact just the opposite—a stick jammed in the spokes of the democratic discourse of freedom. Here are some of the common ways it does it:

  1. SEDUCES with loaded, heated language and childish name-calling that appeals more to emotion that reason.
  2. BLINKERS by using cherry-picked facts, and ignoring or mocking opposing arguments and evidence rather than actually addressing them.
  3. TRIVIALIZES by focusing on “straw-man” issues whose value in re-enforcing biases is clearly greater than their substance.
  4. BULLIES by making you feel like a dupe or a traitor if you even listen to the other side.
  5. FLATTERS with language and a tone that makes you feel like an insider, who, of course, agrees with them because you “get it” … just like they do.
  6. FRIGHTENS by portraying the other side as not just wrong, but a dangerous, evil enemy, replete with wicked hidden agendas.
  7. “CLANS,” that is, plays the “us vs. them” identity politics game of associating the other view with groups or people (implicitly) “inferior” to “us.”
  8. “TRIBES” by using the knowing winks and nods of sarcasm, coded language, words in quotes (suggesting they’re misleading) and innuendo which you, as a member of the tribe, of course, will understand without explanation or justification.

This week . . . shows signs on exhaustion—perhaps even a hint of desperation—on the jousting field of polarization. When the right accuses the left of racism and holding back blacks…and the left accuses the right of not caring enough about the deficit and laments the demise of The Weekly Standard as the closing of the “conservative mind,” at least you know the imaginative spirit of Orwell is alive and well, even if serious political discourse is not.

When reading these examples, check the above list and ask yourself: regardless of whether you agree or disagree, is this really advancing an intelligent resolution through the persuasive, rational arguments of advocacy…or simply fueling the fire of conflict through the divisive, emotional manipulations of polarization?

Here are just a few of the blue and red polarizing headlines from the past week.

More to explore

How We Are Divided and Why We Are Polarized

American politics has grown increasingly polarized over the past 20 years, degenerating after the 2016 election and in the Trump Presidency into all-out partisan warfare. Observing from the sidelines, a significant portion of the voting public has begun to sense a real danger in this fracturing of partisan politics, and are searching for solutions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *