Northern Valley Beacon

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Saturday, November 11, 2006


Let's choose up sides and smell armpits

The post-election drivel in the media and in the blogs is enough to gag a maggot. (From the headline, you can probably tell this is cliche day.) This was driven home when we attended a Veterans Day program featuring the 147th FA Army band in Huron. We were asked how we regarded politics and elections in those days when our asses were covered in khaki and olive drab. (Camouflage is so gauche.)

Neither in civilian life or in the military did our political orientations enter in to our relationships with other people. The kind of political divisions in our country did not enter in until people like Rush Limbaugh and his minions started equating liberalism with the kind of social divisions that once divided white folks and black folks. While I was in the service and in general life up through the 1980s, political beliefs were personal preferences of the same magnitude as automobile and cologne preferences. They were not forces that divided society, but were part of the array of individuality that we cherished. Our political preferences were not freighted with hate propaganda a la Limbaugh.

In the military, our focus was on the job we had to do. Relationships were formed on the cooperative enterprise of getting the job done. A difference was that we had no reason to question the motives of our commander in chief for assigning us our tasks or the intellectual competence or moral integrity of the higher commands in ordering us to do those jobs.

That is not true today. Mired down in an Orwellian war that cannot possibly be "won" through military means, our country is very much divided. After the election the self-appointed idiot corps has started in carping about how much the Democrats are becoming conservative as a means to alleviate the sting of rejection of the Republicans. Voters, they contend, did not vote against Republicans, they voted for Democrats gone conservative. In their pronouncements they apply the Forest Gump principle: stupid is as stupid does.

In the field of general semantics, an error of thought and perception is called the two-prong mode of thinking. People possessed by this mode of thinking are hung up on the two-pronged horns of a dilemma. Things are either black or white, hot or cold, liberal or conservative. In this mode of thought, people cannot see the total spectrum of situation and belief on which society arrays itself. It is not divided according to some simple-minded choice of two extremes. The fact is that the Democratic Party has never been totally "liberal" (and watch for the invidious definition imposed on the term by Limbaughites) or "conservative." It has largely been composed of people who see problems and are looking for ways to solve them. It is the self-professed "conservatives" who define themselves according to some party-line doctrine.

While the commentators may try to portray the upcoming sessions of Congress as tussles between liberal and conservative beliefs, the real task is how to solve problems, like

Let those who want to divide themselves up into hostile groups and sniff each others armpits inhale to their hearts' (or their nostrils') content. Let the rest of us get on with the business of the country. That is what election 2006 was all about.

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