Our Ridiculous Political Contradictions

By Graham Glover

Some think it’s reached the point of absurdity. Our politics that is. These past few months (actually, this past year and a half) has not seen our politics at their best. Like many of you, I’m still a bit shocked that we’ve gotten here and increasingly saddened as to why we debate the asinine issues we think are important. Although I remain optimistic that things will improve (naively, perhaps), I’m certain that I’ll be banging my head against the proverbial wall this week, sighing out loud as I watch, listen, and even partake in this thing we call politics.

What makes our politics so frustrating these days isn’t just the reality TV show that it has become, but the ridiculous contradictions which we embrace. There is little logical coherence to our political views, making the rhetoric and policy proposals that come from politicians, parties, and voters painful to bear.

Consider the following:

Apparently, whether one stands or kneels for the national anthem at professional football games is now a measure of one’s patriotism and/or their commitment to the plight of racial injustice. (For an excellent synopsis of this, see my good friend and colleague, Rev. Joel Hess’ thoughts). But both sides of this ridiculous debate are absurd and ripe with contradictions, to say nothing of the pettiness of the entire shenanigan. The “patriots” call on things like respect, but fail to understand the most important means by which our democratic republic is maintained is through the protection of our First Amendment right to free speech. We respect those with whom we disagree not by belittling them into agreeing with us, but by protecting their ability to say whatever they want, even if we find it offensive. The “kneelers” call on things like racial injustice, but fail to understand that their actions over the past few weeks have done little to address their justifiably important concerns, and instead have enraged millions against their cause who might otherwise have been sympathetic to them. We fix our nation’s growing racial divide not by kneeling for the anthem and the symbol that unites us, but by taking a stand in a forum and a place that creates and cultivates unity.

Then there are the social warriors among us, you know the ones – those that think every social more and custom of the American experiment should be tampered with or abandoned, or those that think if only President Trump can nominate the right judge when someone like Justice Kennedy or Ginsburg retires, that finally, the Supreme Court will be able to right all of our social wrongs. These social warriors though speak out of both sides of their mouths, making their causes ridiculously hard to embrace. The liberals justifiably believe that government has a responsibility to protect equality, but fall woefully short in creating any sense of seriousness about their equality mantras when the only type of equality they’re concerned with is the one their warriors deem worthy, seldom including the equality of those who believe in and embrace any notion of eternal truth. The conservatives justifiably believe government has a responsibility to protect life, that it should do everything in its power to preserve the life of the unborn child, but fail miserably in maintaining the integrity of their cause when they bristle if asked whether that same government has an equally important responsibility to provide the basic necessities of life (to include healthcare) to the child and its family after being born. These social warriors aren’t ideological purists, rather, they’re opportunists who readily beat the social drum only when it suits their political interests.

We have Democrats who decry big business, but love big government. Republicans who believe it important to bring freedom to those living under tyranny, but shy away from protecting the freedom of some living within its own borders. Democrats that call for choice, unless it has to do with where you send your kid to school. Republicans who say guns don’t kill people, unless that gun is owned by a fat man on the northern part of the Korean peninsula. Honestly, it’s a wonder any of us can figure out who stands for what or even what they stand for.

I also find it odd that FDR, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton would never be nominated by today’s Democratic Party (way too conservative). And Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush probably wouldn’t make it past the New Hampshire Primary (way too liberal). Seriously, I’m not sure I even know what it means to be a liberal or conservative anymore.

Our politics say something in one breath then completely contradict it in another. It’s not that we want to have our cake and eat it too, we don’t even know what our cake is or whether or why we should even eat it. And that’s the most ridiculous thing of all!