Greg Knauss has one explanation for the politics of hatred that I wrote about yesterday:
There is a divide in this country today, miles wide and fathoms deep. It has cleaved our great nation, and has only grown — and will only continue to grow. But it’s not a left/right split, or Democrat/Republican one. It’s lunatic/non-lunatic.
Our culture has been swept along in a tide of emotionally-resonant, steadfastly anti-rational entertainment, and politics is at the head of the wave. The course of our country, the future of our people, is being determined by lizard-brain responses to images designed to trigger sub-rational responses.
Michael Moore and Ann Coulter aren’t opposed to each other, they are each other: determined propagandists, using the language and mediums best suited to strike at the emotional core of their audiences. They do not work from a common set of facts, and would ignore them even if they existed. When they speak well, they’re Henry V on St. Crispin’s Day. When they speak poorly, they’re a spittle-flecked wacko with an “End of the World is Nigh” sign. But that’s just a matter of presentation: they’re all lunatics, asking us to stop thinking and start feeling. And to start feeling what they want us to feel.
This determined emotionalism — which is another way of saying anti-rationalism — is what drives us today. You can find it distasteful, you can find it depressing, but it’s most important impact is that we have turned over the direction of the country — our future — to the part of our psyche that doesn’t want to think.
It’s not about smarts. The lunatics aren’t stupid — just the opposite. It’s about the willingness to abandon the deductive process in favor of epiphany. It’s about the abandonment of the brain in favor of the gut.
Jon Stewart has said all this, of course, and said it better. But it hit home, hard, because I recently discovered — realized — that I am not immune. I edged up against the lunatic side of the divide the past few weeks. I went — close, anyway — mad. I was angry, irrationally furious, to the point of raging at the world — appallingly, my children included — that things were going they way they were. I stared into the abyss, from the wrong side, and it scared me.
A potential reason for my brush has to do with how I spend my time: on the Internet. The Web is a festering cesspool of lunacy and emotion: Free Republic, Daily Kos, Little Green Footballs, Atrios, Instapundit, on and on and on. Facts only enter the picture when they’re favorable. Emotion rules. There is no common ground, nor a desire for any.
That’s a problem.
Left or right, Democrat or Republican, these labels don’t mean much in the face of the looming (or nearly complete) lunatic take-over. Dispassion and reason are qualities that need to be nurtured and promoted from every political viewpoint, even — or especially — in the face of spittle-flecked wackos.
The question is, where do we start?
I choose to remain on the side of carefully reasoned political opinions. If that marginalizes me in the current political wars, so be it. It saddens me greatly to know that the ‘mainstream’ has become so irrational, but I refuse to take part.