General Political Opinion in the 1950's
General Political Opinion Now
More Political Synergy Articles
Synergy of Democratic and Republican Principles…
The Yin and Yang of American Government
The Evolution of National Dysfunction:
Driven by our fundamental needs of mind, body and spirit, human beings strive to create functional communities that simultaneously serve the needs of the individual and the community. What drives communities to work closely together to be most functional is situational or external threat to their safety and quality of life. Over the course of American history, we have developed two systems designed to serve the needs of the individual and the community. When practiced respectfully and collaboratively, these systems are wonderfully complementary. This complementarity allows a problem to be fully understood and a solution generated that is much better than either perspective would have generated alone. This is Political Synergy. However, when each group perceives that the problems are caused by the other, then the differences are seen as irreconcilable. At this point, the complementary systems polarize into antagonistic sides and America can be seriously harmed.
In the simplest terms, each side can be broken down into two sets of foundational principles, one set of economic principles and one set of social principles. These sets of principals may be referred to as conceptual frameworks, models or philosophies intended to reflect how a community should function for the wellbeing of the individual and the community. These are both legitimate models for how humans work best in communities. However, when practiced with a strong bias toward one philosophy or the other, government does not respect the complexities of how human group psychology actually works in real life. These models are best seen as two halves of a whole, the Yin and Yang of human group functioning. Regarding any political issue that presents itself, there is an optimum integration of these two philosophies, which is Political Synergy.
The two sets of foundational principles of the first system are:
(Economic) Government promotes inclusion and mutual support of all, sharing resources and supporting lower socioeconomic members of the community to better themselves and their circumstances.
(Social) Accept differences among members, respecting individuals’ rights to be themselves and believing that differences are a source of resiliency and creativity in the community.
In America, we call this being a “Democrat.”
The two sets of foundational principles for the second system are:
(Economic) Limit reliance on government and create a system which rewards and protects personal initiative, productivity, and self-protection, which will then provide opportunities for others in the community, as well as inspire other community members to excel.
(Social) Provide and enforce higher levels of community belonging and protection for those who practice established principles of conduct, which are believed to create the highest functionality of individuals and the community. Needs of lower socioeconomic members addressed through private sector and nonprofits, with an emphasis on developing skills for self-support and compliance with rules of the community.
In America, we call this being a “Republican.”
The Fundamental Problem:
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”- Jesus Christ/Abraham Lincoln
Since WWII, America as a society has enjoyed affluence and a quality of life much greater and safer than has ever existed in the history of mankind. The result of this quality of life is that these two systems have become caricatures of themselves. So, instead of having a population which politically lies on a bell curve, our society creates a bi-modal distribution (Standard and bi-modal bell curve graphs here).
In a functional system, as existed in an earlier time in America, the distribution of citizens along the continuum from liberal to conservative produced a classic bell curve. This means that the majority of citizens were in the middle ground and therefore synergy solutions were much more likely. However, American citizens have become progressively more extreme in their positions and therefore almost all issues become a challenge for mutual aggression, rather than invitations for collaborative problem solving.
Perception Creates Our Reality:
Born of our own personal life philosophy, our worldly environment and our inherent need to belong, most human beings choose a “political philosophy” to which to declare their loyalty. Then they progressively bond their personal identity and philosophy with their political party’s philosophy and practices and identify with that party. Social psychology teaches us that a fundamental principle of group identity and cohesion is that groups define themselves in terms of how their members are like each other and how they are different from and better than other groups. The resulting perception is that whatever is wrong in America is caused by the other group and we become defensive of our party’s actions and leaders, even when they are unbalanced and damaging. Additionally, the bi-partisan party positions are first seen in terms of “right vs. wrong” and eventually escalate to the point of being seen as “good vs. bad.”
Along with minimizing and justifying mistakes that are made by our party, party devotees tend to focus on the most extreme positions and actions of the opposing party as representing the entire position of the opposing party. Once an individual has identified with a particular party and become a devotee of that philosophy, they are unable to perceive situations in a way which allows them to see another perspective or find balance on issues.
As the intensification of identification with one party and opposition to the other party progresses, emotion becomes the primary driver of thought and action and “fight or flight” processes come into play. The perception builds that the opposing party is causing damage and is the enemy of America’s future and that one’s own party needs to escalate their position to offset the harm done by the opposing party. This process becomes an escalation of damage, each party reacting with ever more extreme and more damaging counter reactions to the other.
Recognizing and Admitting the Problem:
“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Plato 428-348 B.C.
Translation: “We only change and grow to be our best when it’s too painful to remain the way we are.” Dr. Patrick Quirk & Dr. Margaret Bibb Quirk
Everyone has heard that an alcoholic has to “hit bottom” before he or she gets sober. Sadly, this principle seems to apply to almost all individual and group psychological behavior. The question always is “how far down does the bottom have to be, before we say no more and begin to challenge our existing philosophies?”
Due to America’s generations of affluence, power and safety, it is hard to fully appreciate that we are not immune to the progressive dark decline and decay that every other culture in the history of mankind has experienced. This may be part of why we stay stuck in the familiar paradigm that the solution to our national problems is to take an ever more extreme position in opposition to the enemy party. Therefore, we aren’t pushed to the kind of dramatic awakening and paradigm shift that we know is necessary, namely realizing that the two parties are the yin and yang of functional government and the highest level of truth.
Nothing Changes Until Something Changes:
First America has to recognize that it is not Republicans or Democrats who are destroying America. Rather, it is the escalating bi-partisan and unethical politics that are destroying a country that has been the greatest country in the history of the world, but is progressively losing that extraordinary status.
Second, we need to recognize that these two political parties are two halves of a system, the integrated balance of which is the answer to America’s frightening social and economic deterioration. To find the answers to the complex questions of how to make our country its best, we must find the synergy of two seemingly opposing forces in each issue we consider. We must recognize that our political party bias is perspective and not truth. Even if we can’t now personally see the validity that it is the balancing these two philosophies that will save us, we need to know that it is so and strive to understand. We need to then “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” (Stephen Covey)
Third, we need to never give up on this aspiration to create an ethical, respectful and collaborative effort to save America. This will be the toughest battle America has ever fought. America’s situation brings to mind two similar sounding famous quotes, which reflect what was once the greatest threat to America’s future and what is now the greatest threat to America’s future: The first quote captures how America conceptualized the very real external threats to its future during the War of 1812. After defeating the British Fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie, Oliver Hazard Perry, Commander of the American Fleet, dispatched one of the most famous messages in military history: “We have met the enemy and he is ours.” In much more recent times, the satirical cartoonist Walt Kelly (author of Pogo) captured what is now the most serious threat to America’s future: “We have met the enemy and he is us."