On Who Is Running Our Country

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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 weekDeranged, monstrous, power grabbing, anti-American, violent rapists. That, according to the week’s political analysis, is who is running our country. What more needs be said?

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 a few blue and red polarizing headlines from the past week.

More to explore

CVC to host program about depolarizing America

The Sheridan Press // SHERIDAN — Launched in 2016, Better Angels is a bipartisan citizen’s movement to unify America. By creating opportunities for meaningful discussions, Better Angels works to dial down the heated rhetoric that gets in the way of real conversations and accurate understanding of our differences.

1 thought on “On Who Is Running Our Country”

  1. It seems to me that these common methods of polarization are pretty much right out of the Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky. I’ll agree that they are now being freely adopted by both sides of the divide but these techniques do have a source.

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