I am involved in an intriguing conversation at Quora about politics. As you know, it is a topic I do not usually engage. I’ll let the conversation speak for itself; I am logging it here for future reference as may be needed.
I wrote in response to the question, “Is Quora failing U.S. Politics?”, thus:
Personally, the reason I rarely (approaching never) engage on political topics is simply because I think any system that focuses this hard on viciously enforcing dichotomy to sustain itself is inherently flawed and undeserving of support; humans are not binary creatures, our systems are not binary, and for all we desperately try to pretend that solutions are binary, they are demonstrably anything but so.
While I’m certain the above statements can engender their own heated argument, the apparent inability of our government (from federal to city level) to effectively collaborate for a truly common good, to be consistent in establishing and supporting pluralism in relation to viable third, fourth, etc. parties, and to be more open to civic lobby (too busy groveling at the feet of corporate lobby) seem to render the matter quite eloquently evident.
Beyond this, I sincerely think and believe that the nature of politics, in general, is so profoundly counter to the productive, effective, and beneficial process (or progress) of government and sustaining a fundamentally balanced society that I simply cannot conscience participation any longer.
I do realize this results in “automatic dismissal” by any number of folks for any number of reasons and, frankly, I’m ok with that (obviously).
For what it is worth, when I do look in upon such discussions here, I frequently find the involvement more argumentative and combative than debate or discourse oriented; this does not motivate me to consider changing my mind (but it does tend to underscore and repeatedly demonstrate the wisdom of my previously mentioned position on things).
To which another replied:
I would urge you to say exactly this when you see a question that cries out for some common sense answer that doesn’t fit with the orthodoxy of the two parties. In one sense, you can’t avoid the fact that politics is indeed binary when it comes down to Election Day; there is no line on the ballot for “compromise” or “mix and match” on the issues. There are third parties running from time to time, but that only leads to a “(one or zero) and zero” model rather than the logical “one or zero”.
You would also be a welcome voice when you see an argument worth saving. Very seldom, but not without precedent, a Quora question generates a food fight, and it’s best in many cases not to dirty your hands. But sometimes you can tell that two people have cogent arguments but are letting their phrasing or even vocabulary get in the way. I hope everyone will try harder every day to think of ways to use Quora for discourse, as you say, and not as a platform for an argument for the sake of argument.
And for which, I further elaborated:
While the solidly good intent of your statement is evident, it remains that the reason things come to the binary gate is that those bringing them either prefer or are convinced that they must do so.
As you so deftly demonstrate, the notion that elections are binary simply because a person is deciding “yes or no” by candidate does not make the election itself binary except in that there are so rarely true alternatives (points back to her initial statements).
The issues confounding government are also not binary; but so long as the majority of participants are devoted to (and in many cases, defining their entire world views by) the dichotomies of partisanship, religion, the single platform, et al, all of which eschew pluralism as foundational anathema, I fail to see how or where it can be reasonably or logically asserted that pluralism can find the ground from which to make even the attempt at gaining access to the fullness of the process, be that in contributing to the discourse or in contributing by being actively involved in choices and direction.
The ultimate issue is not truly politics or any other conceptual vehicle by which humans attempt things, it is humanity itself; specifically, its need to define progress as something subject to ascendancy, superiority, and dominance rather than the degree to which it enables even those or that which exists in contradiction or disagreement to do so peaceably and with the same access and capability of effect.
In short, I think that humans in general have fallen woefully far afield of the higher concepts by which these systems were intended to develop and nurture pluralistic process or progress. So it is not (to me) surprising that we find the arena increasingly combative or disinclined to being otherwise.
I am put in mind of a gladiatorial analogy, and I find it particularly apt. The gladiator fights because it is held that fighting must happen. The audience attends because they either believe or feel attendance is all the involvement they may reasonably have. The various supporting markets and interests of the industry engage in less bloody (but no less vicious) combat to exert control and influence over both audience and gladiators.
And, as always, where are those who find the battle distasteful, or think there are other ways worth trying?
Away and outside the arena… “somewhere else that neither affects, interests, or occurs to us.”
This, the fundamental mindset, is what I perceive to be the true problem in need of resolution.