I want to have a conversation

con·ver·sa·tion  [kon-ver-sey-shuhn]

1.informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.”

Life got complicated and busy, more so than usual last summer, and I kept thinking “if nothing else, it will all slow down in winter and I will have time in the long dark…”

Another summer  is now just round the corner and nothing has slowed down. Pffft.

Now , I’m wondering if this all isn’t another function of experiencing the outer middle-age thingy- some other piece of the how time speeds up and threatens to chuck -one -off -the -rail dealie.

Anyway , I’m just sneaking a few minutes here and hope someone has a few minutes to stop by and chat.

Running alongside all the external busy-ness of this last year is an internal and, so far, personal conversation . Internal conversations often have value for me in that they serve as a quiet place to sort , collate and/or  discard ideas . Sooner or later , it is important to chuck my questions and conclusions back into the community to see if they stand up to the light of day.

Alongside a bazillion other Americans, I have been puzzling about what feels like a systemic failure to pull ourselves together and get anything useful done for ourselves.

I’m weary of the horsepunky we’ve been wasting our time on, most especially the name calling and one-up manship games which dominate our national and state headlines . All that nasty foolishness can be some kind of sick fun at times but doesn’t do anything useful.

The stock notion that there are irreconcilable differences between 2 political philosophies as embodied by our 2 major parties is increasingly replaced by a notion that the 2 parties are indistinguishable from each other and that we should and must rid ourselves of both.

I’m not sure that is really what is going on . While I understand the frustration, I think we are cheating ourselves by throwing up our hands and trying to start all over.

I would rather take a step away, circle the block, and peek  at the melee from a slightly different angle.

The angle I find myself looking from is somewhat difficult to describe , in large part because I can’t think of ways to describe it without bringing up hot button issues which I don’t really want to talk about themselves, but I’m going to try.

One of my pet peeves is the endless “Ha!  Logic and reason are never/not/unknown in the (fill-in-the-blank) ‘s arguments!” routine. This routine irritates the daylights out of me.

All humans build up constructs , whether it is a worldview or a specific position, using logic and reason to stick all the bits and pieces together.

Some constructs work better than others, some work in limited instances, some never work very well , and so on.

I think we would serve ourselves better if we quit denying there is any logic in a stance we disagree with. It would be wiser to try to understand what the logic is and see if it can stand the light of day, or perhaps better said, how much light-of-day .

It seems to me that  we have made some profound shifts in the ground we stand on in the last 30 years and for some peculiar reason continue to argue as if we have not.

The acceptance that   neoliberal economic thought   and policies better suit what we want to do with ourselves has been an odd exercise to me. We shifted our whole view of the individual and society as per an economic model and have been duking it out as to what that means as to how we govern ourselves since then, without specifically saying what we are doing.

The Centrist or Third Way views that we can marry the needs and desires of the left and right sides in our public policies based on an economic model have found a home in the Democratic Party .

The term Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies.

I don’t think this Third Way/ Centrist dealie is  looked at carefully as a philosophy often enough and certainly see it as the WHAT  that has contributed to the seeming sameness of both major parties. I remain  unconvinced that it is a sensible strategy as I remain unconvinced that neoliberal economic policies are just and good and sane.

Personally, I’d like to see us really look at neoliberal economics and what we have allowed ourselves to do to ourselves in the name of this set of notions.

And , equally,  I’d like to see us drop the seeming prevailing notion that moderate= Centrist in favor of a real look at what we mean by each.

On a local/state note:

I had the peculiar experience of being told in the context of Alaskan Democratic politics that “we don’t want to look extreme, we want to stay moderate ” a year ago when I attempted to start and sustain a conversation about what has gone haywire  with the Party’s relationship with rural and  specifically Native Alaska.

As an immoderate soul , I was amused AND irritated by the scuttle-back-to-some-place-of-safety attitude.

 The wanna-be-moderate remarks were made in the context of a great deal of we-don’t-know-what-has-gone-wrong-with-our-relationship-with-the-bush verbal hand wringing so it was sadly funny that the conversation was cut off when an attempt was made to get at what has gone wrong.


So , what has gone wrong?

How can we talk about these things?

Be these things local, state, or national?

I don’t buy the idea that we are more divided than we have ever been.

Is that a place to start?

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 6:42 am  Comments (10)  

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m thinking the present conservative movement is more rigid than in the past 20 years, hence the gridlock we now have… With the Moral Majority learning to vote in masse and get people of their values in to the goverment, the ability to find compromise on issues has resulted in the current gridlock. Progressives and Moderates are now having to deal with people in goverment who are faith based, not science or logic based thinkers. You can’t argue with Faith, and by taking this thought one step further, you can’t argue or sway a Faith Based person away from any concept or principle stance that they have stated. It’s simply , to them, an absolute position.
    ANY of the Republican candidates are of this ilk… how can that be determined ? Easy… they all raised their hands when asked if they believed in Creationism.
    Logic doesn’t work, the answer will have some sort of “God says it should be this way”, or “The scriptures tell us”… and you can quote bible verses countering them, but it won’t make a difference.
    Until the General Public recognises this aspect at the polls, life for Americans is going to be HARD… It will be “God’s Will” that suffering for the unfortunate is happening, that only those who BELIVE have the ability to use the goverment for their betterment, because those who don’t , just aren’t deserving of having a better life.
    It’s not the fiscal conservative, socially liberal outlook that is non-functional, it’s the therocratic policies that are being implemented that is non-functional

    • I’m thinking this is a piece of it but I also think this is
      Political compass’ current crowd chart

      Glad you stopped by Ben- I’ll be back shortly 🙂

      • At whatever level I agree with the specifics of some of what you are saying, it is the larger notion of lack-of-logic I’m having trouble with in general.
        There is an internal logic within that particular type of faith-based foo-foo – it is poorly constructed and the light of day shines right through it but it is a logic. Allowing folks to retreat into arguments that “faith” is unassailable has multiple issues.
        I’m thinking about this. Work has taken over my life in the last couple weeks but I’ll be back 🙂

        • ooohhhh… do I know about the work bit taking over !!! Looks like I’ll be going to Pt Mugu in a couple of months, and things are just FRANTIC ! plus demos for the company muckie mucks. OY !
          To further emphasize (emphasise?) the Therocratic influence on the Right, consider the recent political events- bonus pts if u can id the speaker! 1)I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. 2) I believe a woman should be submissive to her husband 3)Ed, leave me alone and let me sleep….. ( ok, that’s not political..hehehe !) 4) there’s no speaker for this one, but life begins at conception, unless u live in Az, in which case it begins 2 weeks before 5) Creationism should be taught in schools as an alternative to science
          If you talk to anyone (except for #3 🙂 ) who espouses these ideas, the “logic” is Gawd’s Plan, or the Bible says it’s so, …. you will also find this same justification for racism, homophobia, and any other “Right Wing Social Engineering” ( Thank YOU, Newt!!) that you can name.. except I haven’t figured out a way to pin greed and Wall Street chicanery to it…. unless it’s the fact that most of those moguls believe they are superior to everyone else BECAUSE of their religion– you could argue that point about Mitt, I don’t know about the Koch Brothers… I do know the local JW’s viewed everyone one else on the street here, were to be taken advantage of, because we WEREN’t JW’s…. but that may have just been them as individuals..
          on personal note – got volunteered to help at charity Chili cook-off this Sat ( Gaack! dang daughter!) MIL coming to live with us again in the coming month- perpetual Ground Hog Day- (chuckle) 1st daughter has ketamine treatment in June, 2nd daughter finishing JC and off to BIG Kid school in fall, and I can’t WAIT for cruise in Dec…ahhhaaaaa umbrella drinks and WARM sand between the toes…. and Ben runs from the flurry of snowballs !

  2. ok… I THINK I got my results in your chart…interesting, as I’m a military brat of the 50’s and 60’s , and did a hitch in the service… but maybe because I spent a lot of time overseas, and actually mingled with the people, I have a different outlook than a lot of Americans.. as well as a chronically ill child(adult now) and had to deal with both “single payer” insurance- military hospitals- as well as private insurance , where treatment was denied until I threatened to go to the press. Also having been on the both sides of laying off people as well as being laid off, has an added perspective- it’s almost always the innocent that get laid off, and almost NEVER the mucki-muck that made the wrong decisions that caused the company to lay off people…

    • Ben- it didn’t stick. Darn! I was hoping it would work out that it would if people were interested.

  3. I missed you pi. Welcome back. This piece is very thought provoking. I think what we Americans are missing is the ability to trust people with ideas different from our own.

    • I have missed you too Man_from-Unk!
      A great deal of what started this particular personal quest of mine is all your fault , you know!
      Some of your questions and concerns have had me searching everywhere to try to get at underlying ideas…

      It’s all your fault 🙂

      • That’s okay pi, you could blame me all you want, everybody else does. I’ve been going back 100 years to revisit Teddy Roosevelt’s ideas and policies and I can’t believe that the politicians of the last 50 years have forgotten all the efforts he made in making our country fair for everybody. Thanks for doing your share.

  4. “I want to have a conversation” about the state of the salmon in Norton Sound but everybody is too afraid of the money hoarding bullies and the sly salmon managers so they change the subject or laugh it off and run away.

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