Seeing Life In Simplistic Right Wing Terms Is Self-Destructive For Everyone
Vision For The Future Of The Planet Requires Seeing Beyond Narrow Ideology
Many people from diverse political views take issue with the ideology of right wing Republicans. Generally these views are much more disturbing to pluralistic societies and groups than other narrowly focused political persuasions are. Why is this? It really comes down to a simple issue, and that is that Republicans with extreme views have a generally two-dimensional view of the world. That is, they see almost every social concern as presenting either one of two challenges. Either a problem is a stifled opportunity for growth, or a crisis that could lead to our destruction.
In some arenas like foreign policy this black and white view of reality may seem like a prudent approach at times. Pressuring Iran to avoid going nuclear by demonizing the country’s intentions once it gets a few basic nuclear weapons may keep the Middle East much safer in the long run. Yet philosophies like this don’t take into account the vast array of unexpected consequences that always arise when you try to impose your will on others.
Therefore such policies quickly become problematic, leading to almost inevitable, unnecessary wars and vast amounts of wasted money and lives used to fight unwinnable battles. (Who honestly believes for instance that all the effort spent in routing the Taliban from Afghanistan has been justified? Putting the country on the road to a fragile, modern democracy while we hunted down al-Qaida there seems prudent. Yet its almost inevitable that it will completely fall apart within a decade or less once Western powers abandon the weak, corrupt central government to its own devices. The longest war in US history has likely been a vast waste of time and effort that will unravel nearly as soon as we leave).
More importantly however, the right wing Republican view of the world as that of crisis vs. opportunity services a much more fundamental and insidious agenda than just promoting military action abroad. If promoting such an outlook can convince you that your life is in danger at home (weapons of mass destruction may be dropped on your house at any time, we’re on Orange Alert today), they can motivate you to support their point of view out of fear. And if they can convince you that your bank account is in jeopardy, or that you’re being prevented from making the loads of cash you’re rightly entitled to in a free market economy, they can also motivate you to support them out of greed. This sort of economic issue is brought up whenever we are told that capitalism is threatened by over-regulation, over-taxation etc. etc. ad nauseum. Because we're holding all the rich people back supposedly, (holding them back from exploiting workers, polluting the environment, and from manipulating weaker nations through predatory practices) we're holding the US economy back as well.
Such simplistic ideas are always based on scarcity thinking. There’s not enough money to go around, and those people across the border with the strange holidays and traditions you don’t understand will kill you in your sleep first chance they get… So why not manipulate them to your own advantage as much as you can first and profit from their oppression? Assemble TVs in Mexico where regulations on contact with lead are far less regulated, or import fruit from Africa where pesticides illegal here can be used with impunity. Export jobs sewing blue jeans to China where $90 a month is considered a good income, and at the same time claim that the Democratic administration doesn't care about creating jobs here.
This mindset of blame and scarcity thinking originates entirely from a state of fear and greed. It puts Americans into a perpetual crisis model of thinking, where they look to so called "leaders" and "experts" in the party of traditional values. This historically is painted as the Republicans, whose desire is to protect us from the evil hordes over the hill that want our money and our lives, or to protect us from the liberals here. (Such a dirty word now, to be called a liberal, how strange is that? The term liberal literally means to be generous, giving and tolerant - which the very writing on our Statue of Liberty promotes.) Republican extremists now in power encourage their constituents to fear not only extra-national outsiders, but also compel them to look at their fellow citizens as...well...not fellow citizens, not equal, not worthy of respect.
Two-dimensional thinking like this may have worked quite well in simpler times. It can lead to atrocities and oppression from extremes that it promotes like fascism, but it can also lead to tremendous growth for certain preferential ethnic groups with policies such as Manifest Destiny or Eminent Domain. In a complex, modern world however, where a great variety of religious, ethical, political and cultural viewpoints must find common ground for the human race to move safely forward (on a planet that seemingly gets smaller by the day), two-dimensional thinking simply doesn’t cut it.
We can’t simply ignore those we don’t understand well or bully them into thinking the way we think through our "superpower" status indefinitely. Cultures as diverse as that of India, China and Iran are on the rise, and we have to learn to deal with them on their terms. If nearly half of the US population, the conservative, Republican half, can’t even learn to compromise and see the world in a mature, realistic way alongside its own domestic political rivals, how can they ever hope to see beyond such myopia to dealing with the disparate views of the Russians, the Syrians, or the Pakistanis?
In the first term of President Obama’s administration, the Republican side of Congress acted like petulant children, refusing all serious efforts to solve the nation's problems. They were an "all or nothing party" wanting everything their way, or otherwise refusing to work with their opponents for anything of value. Such intransigence is the real roadblock that keeps the US from solving its own pressing issues and moving forward. Worse still than stalling progress, two-dimensional right wing thinking tends to promote the very things it fears most. By viewing the world through the eyes and mindset of fear and scarcity, such thinking becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that creates its own crisis, both economic and military in nature. We've seen this happen for decades now of the modern era. Must we suffer through more evidence that this philosophy just doesn't work?
You may think that the author of this article is a dyed-in-the-wool, liberal Democrat. In fact, I consider myself an Independent. Independents however can't help but see Democrats as being inclusive - willing to work out differences, whereas the Republicans have become entirely exclusive - forcing their "right" way down the throats of others any chance they get and acting like tantrum throwing children when they are denied their way.
The first approach is akin to the role ambassadors play in the world, and the second to that of missionaries. The first works in the highly interconnected global society of today and the latter long since ceased to.