Polarization over the Irrational

Today is Sunday, October 6, 2013. I am sitting here this morning thinking about the how polarized the world is–especially over what is in the final analysis an irrational reaction to ‘human rights’. We know how polarized America is–the politics of this last week has made that abundantly clear. The near anarchistic anti-government movement within the GOP is dividing the party because of the ACA and universal health insurance, and perhaps destroying the chances for the Republicans to regain the White House in the future. This key argument is really all about health care as a human right. The ACA is meant as a humanitarian effort to protect as many American citizens as possible from exploitation by insurance companies. The radical right sees it incorrectly as a government grab for more power over the people. That’s a bizarre way of looking at things, but it’s all about the extreme dichotomies in the country today. Politics has no ‘center’ anymore here. We can’t build compromises and coalitions from centrist moderates in either party, because there are so few left. We, the People, are left with irrational arguments that shut down the government and put us all at risk.

This is, I suppose, a reflection of the cultural/political divide in the country. Obama won almost 90% of those counties across the country with over a million population. The urban core of the country votes Democrat. The suburban, exurban and rural folks vote Republican. There is a racial component to this as well–the Republican constituencies are increasingly white, straight, exurban Christians, where the racial, sexual and ethnic minorities almost exclusively vote Democrat. The more polarized we get, the more extreme and the more dangerous the politics:  government shutdowns for no good reason and threats to destroy our economy and hurt the world markets over the U.S. debt ceiling, for example. That’s playing with fire, in my opinion.  The tea party seems to love it, though. They seem to relish in this fight against principles of good government as they push for ‘smaller’ government. I don’t know. It strikes me as rigid, recalcitrant behavior based on a belief that we need to return to a 19th century model of America, complete with laissez faire economics, caveat emptor consumer practice, a dominant straight white male political culture, and an intolerant, bigoted fundamentalist Christianity.  None of this is possible, I don’t think, given the current demographics in the U.S.  The Republicans are irrationally and boldly marching into an idealized past that never existed, and those elements of the past that DID exist, (the above list) we certainly don’t want repeated in American society.

But such polarization exists elsewhere, too. North Africa and the Middle East, for example. The various Muslim sects are at each others’ throats and they’re all against Israel, and it’s based on irrational religious impulses. Then there’s Russia, We all know they passed a law in June ostensibly to protect children from gay pedophiles, but seriously, ONLY gay pedophiles, which is completely irrational. The law, in effect, makes illegal any public discussion, display or promotion of the LBGTQ community in Russia. It puts gay people back in the closet and locks the door. Now the Duma (their congress) wants to pass a law that bars gay people from having children, and even takes children away from their birth parents, if they are gay. An ideological extension of this law is now a policy that no Russian child can be adopted by a Swedish family, because Sweden doesn’t allow discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation. This means the Swedish agencies don’t automatically report the sexual orientation of the prospective adoptive parents once they have been vetted and approved as good candidates for adopting a child. Russia has therefore pulled the plug on any Russian children being adopted by Swedes. More polarization over something completely irrational.

I just don’t understand how we can be so intellectually, scientifically and technologically advanced and progressive, and yet we are faced with these completely irrational challenges to what really are Human Rights, our understanding of human nature as it is, and the role that government can play in supporting our humanity.

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