An American Voter

On the political depth of an average American voter…

Do you consider yourself an ‘average’ American when it comes to politics?  Should any citizen in a Democratic system of government take their participation lightly?

There is a kind of political mentality that has permeated our nation which troubles me, and it goes something like this. I belong to the such and such party → Therefore whatever they propose I’m for → Whatever those other guys do or propose must be wrong because…well, they’re on the other side → Yea! Now let’s win win win and beat those poor misguided other-siders. As time marches on this kind of thinking seems to have grown more acute, to the point where the only question left to ask is, “So which party do you belong to (it better be mine or else)?” There’s no room left for things like, ‘what is your position on this or that issue’ or ‘in spite of our differences on this issue, upon which aspects of it might we find common ground?’ After all, once you’ve been identified as ‘the enemy’ (term used loosely) the potential for meaningful political dialog is already out the window, in most cases…it seems…for the average American voter.

Now I know what many of you are already thinking, ‘Now wait a minute, there are plenty of people out there who are politically engaged…’ Are there? And if so do those people more likely represent the majority of Americans or the responsible few? I think the latter. Which leads us back to the average American and his or her unfortunate political state of mind (influenced no doubt by an unfortunately flawed two-party system of democracy)

Now, should you happen to agree with me on this point we would then face a somewhat monumental dilemma of how to alter the sort of limited political perspective that so often side-swipes meaningful dialog. I don’t have the answer. But maybe, just maybe, if once in a while we make others aware of how fruitless this kind of thinking is, we might slowly encourage people to do this one small thing…look beyond the party affiliation of your friend, family or co-worker and focus a little more on the issues.   I would agree such a statement is cliché if it weren’t so tragically true in this country. You may find you have more in common than you think, which (it turns out) is an excellent framework for productive discourse – something we could use a lot more of.

And just in case this sort of engagement feels too overwhelming, consider an alternate (but equally helpful) paradigm shift in thinking.  Consider avoiding the assumption that everything any politician on the ‘other side’ does is automatically wrong or flawed.   If that were really true then every decision from every office holder since our nation’s inception has been wrong and we are in a worse mess than even I realize.

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Published in: on July 13, 2008 at 10:49 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Interesting. I just posted on the power of the status-quo on the voter. It is a routine both in process and in what we select…and yet at times many seem to want real change.


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