Zero-Sum America

If you ain’t with us you’re against us.

This idea continues to infect every aspect of our lives these days when it comes to what can be politicized…and these days that’s basically everything.

You say you want to Defund the Police? That must mean you want to abolish the police. Blue Lives Matter!

You say Black Lives Matter? That must mean you think white lives are less important!

You want to raise taxes? That will kill small businesses and ruin the economy! Socialist! Marxist! Antifa!

We’ve lost the ability to discern and to navigate the nuances of political opinions and policies. Of course, as a major news outlet, outrage and shock sell much better than cooperation and understanding, so it’s profitable to enrage your viewers.

Yet democracy at it’s base is always supposed to be about compromise and cooperation. There’s a reason checks and balances were such a heavily emphasized aspect of the founding documents of America. It was never about one party dominating the entire government and imposing their will against the minority. The minority was always supposed to have a seat at the table. True compromise doesn’t get people out of their seats in excitement about what has been accomplished, but it does not breed contempt on both sides and allows progress to be made.

What do we have now though? The executive branch has never been more powerful. The Senate Majority Leader has never been more powerful. Gerrymandering runs rampant in every state. Campaign finance laws are non-existent. Why? The powerful continue to amass more and more power and there’s no reason to hand any of it back, until perhaps the country implodes.

The current climate represents a general feeling that if Republicans win, Democrats lose and if Democrats win, Republicans lose. To a point, that has always been true, but not to this extent. When we see NBA, NFL, MLB teams make trades, very rarely do outsiders look at it and come to the conclusion that one team made out dramatically worse than the other. There is always a give-and-take, a compromise of sorts, so that hopefully both parties net a positive result. Of course the teams want the best deal they can get, but they have to work with the other team to secure an end result that benefits both parties.

Now we’re not necessarily trading lower tax rates for pro-environmental policies, but often times that’s exactly what our elected representatives are supposed to be striving for. Compromises that benefit everyone, even if only incrementally.

We may have already passed the point of no return for politics to return to that kind of equilibrium, but there’s no reason we can’t try and enact that type of understanding and open-mindedness in our every day interactions with others. Of course we all enjoy staying in our own echo chambers on Twitter and Facebook and it’s can spike our heart rate to converse with “the other side,” but at the base of it all we are all humans. Conversations may not end the way we want them, but it is impossible to create change or foster growth without conversations across the aisle.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin

I believe Black Lives Matter. I believe the government shouldn’t interfere with women’s bodies. I believe climate change is real. I hate Trump.

I’m willing to discuss all of these things though without blowing a gasket and throwing punches or hurling insults. I’m willing to listen to other perspectives and have open conversations. Hopefully we can all try and do that in the next couple weeks and then continue it after November 3rd.

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Basketball Coach. Youngest of Five. Writer when I feel up to it.

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Shane Loeffler

Shane Loeffler

Basketball Coach. Youngest of Five. Writer when I feel up to it.

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