jasper-johns-american-flag-mirrorh

The Illusion of Choice

jasper-johns-american-flag-mirrorh
America’s pretty damned weird all around. It’s part of its charm in fact. One of the most peculiar aspects of America’s collective weirdness is the seemingly desperate need for duality. For a country that seems to be nervously searching for unity and legitimately hoping for continuity, there seems to be nothing more appealing to Americans than the illusion of choice–as long as it’s between two options. Now in the realm of free market capitalism the manufacturers of everything bought and sold in the US, from Frito Lay to Hollywood, makes damn sure that you have unlimited options. This is part of the illusion as well, as long as you have infinite consumer choices, you must have some choice in everything all the way to the top, right? Well, no, not really at all. Let’s get back to duality first.

Over the last year and a half to two years, I’ve been mystified by America’s obsession with duality. It’s almost as if there is an underlying retardation in the collective American mind that prevents people from thinking beyond black and white, beyond ones and zeros, beyond good and evil. Don’t get me wrong it’s hard wired into the human nervous system, it IS the basis of all of our “emotional” thinking, our “primitive” thinking. If you study things like human consciousness or Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need, this kind of thinking is inherent upon birth, necessary in infancy and important in the toddler years, but after age five it becomes confining and you either grow beyond that mentality or you stick with it because it’s easy, it’s tried and true. It’s difficult to say if this is due to a lack of intellectual curiosity or emotional maturity, or more likely both. The unfortunate thing is that in much of the rest of the civilized world, they’ve worked to overcome the “fight or flight” switch, to realize there are more options than simple dichotomies and false opposition.

Lately, people can’t seem to understand that someone can be completely against police brutality, but still be in favor of law enforcement, or that one can say, support Trump because they want a political outsider to fuck shit up, as opposed to being a racist, misogynistic, fascist. This duality is killing us, this binocular, tunnel vision is easy to understand, certainly, but that’s not how the world works, whether you like it or not. It’s this very “Us vs. Them” mentality that the political machine is depending on and is dependent on as well. For instance, if I say I’m a Liberal, the easy math in someone’s head is that I’m a Democrat, but I’m no longer a Democrat. I had a conservative friend say to me recently, “Look, just because I’m a Conservative, don’t confuse me with a Republican.” That held some weight in my mind and it also made me think that on both sides of this current show of shows, there are a lot of people escaping the confines of duality, but probably not enough.

You’re not necessarily a racist if you’re voting for Trump, but a lot of racists are voting for Trump, so you find yourself defending your viewpoint either by intellectually establishing your reasoning, you remain silent about the whole thing or you lower yourself to a point where your Nationalist pride and your belief in this demagogue leads you to use words like “libtards” or other such nonsense. See, out of the initial dualistic supposition, which is false to begin with, many choices can be explored. Obviously, if you support Trump there is a chance you could be racist, but that’s not necessarily the case. We’ve watched over the last year as the alternative options to the big two are continually mocked, brushed to the wayside or otherwise discouraged to continue. The government needs it’s false opposition to maintain it’s current hold on America, because it appeals to the majority of people, it’s easy if your either a Democrat or a Republican, but neither party is really representing the people anymore.

Another aspect of this is the “progressive vs. reactionary” dichotomy. Some people fear progress, others feel anxious if their not moving forward and there is a large third option never talked about which is the vast population who really, really dig the status quo. This is why in American politics the more moderate voices are always the ones that make headway. To be fair, actual Conservatives aren’t necessarily reactionary, they see that change is inevitable, but they are more apt to let it blossom organically over a lengthy amount of time. Liberals are generally seen as Progressives, but they seem to be more about forcing change on the unwilling masses for their over arching need to feel socially accomplished. Democrats and Republicans on the other hand are mostly the moderate milquetoasts we like to vote into congress year after year, the safe bet, the best bet and so on. Thirty years ago if Clinton had run on the war laden, corporately sponsored platform she runs on today, people would have pointed and screamed at her “Republican!” in horror. If Trump had run thirty years ago he would have still been a Democrat and laughed out of the race as a buffoon. Still there are those, like Trump, who want to appeal to the reactionary vote with the deluded belief that things were better in the past and we’ve somehow lost our way and there are those like Clinton who presents a platform that’s purposefully half-assed on how progressive she will be. Weird times where we use our love of duality while the very concept is falling a part all around us.

Some people are not intellectually or emotional capable of moving beyond this type of thinking, that’s also just the way the world works and as is often said coldly, “The world needs ditch diggers too.” It is, however, because of this very concept that the Electoral College was founded and why, if the present Oligarchy remains intact, Hillary Clinton will be “elected” president this Tuesday. I do wish someone like Trump would show up on the political front, but someone that appealed to reason, someone with vision that could not only unify Conservatives and Liberals, but also understand that progress must be made, rather than forced and that at the end of the day, what must occur is that the benefit of the people must be served. It’s a tightrope walk to be sure, but the DNC made sure their Socialist Maverick was put down while the Republicans just let their extremist populist poster boy go for the gold. The powers that be that set up this election were sure they gave you an easy choice this time around for a magnificent reality TV spectacle. What they didn’t realize is that a nationalistic xenophobe with racist and sexist undertones would appeal to so many. If anything perhaps we can only hope that this election destroys the illusion of choice they set us up for again and again, but that means remaining vigilant after the ballots have been cast and demanding it.

Perhaps this election cycle could lead to the death of both parties. The Republicans can’t find it easy to talk out of one side of their mouth about “Family Values” or “Christian Morality” while supporting a demagogue who represents the antithesis of both from the other side of their mouth. The Democrats can’t find it easy to hope for peace and progress while supporting a multi-millionaire career politician who pays lip service to minorities and the poor with vested interests in the continuation of our corporate wars in the Middle East. Everything in the media, every meme on facebook, every bit about this election has been presented with the illusion of duality and necessarily the illusion of choice. The real problem with this scenario is that it legitimately limits people’s potential and it leaves them frustrated whether they are even cognizant of it or not. There are those who simply ride the party line, come hell or high water, that’s fine, they’re sheep and it makes their life unchallenging.

Others though, lose their identity because they realize they don’t fit into the two state approved identities and furthermore, people need to realize that if things are to change politically, they shouldn’t have to fit, but they should at least feel represented in some capacity. The State sanctioned illusion of choice is supposed to do that, but the center can no longer hold and the ever widening gyre, must soon collapse. While the ultimate goal is unity, the true choice will come from the American people demanding that regardless of party affiliation, we must work together to bring about the best in America. I’ve watched a Republican Congress block a Democratic president every step of the way and I’ve seen the reverse as well. The two party system must go because it no longer adequately represents the needs of the people, their values or the diversity of their political ideologies any longer. When your conviction to your party is stronger than your conviction to your country, and possibly even the planet, the war within you is already lost. In this campaign it seems we are not voting for who we want, but against who we don’t want, this lesser of two evils game is being run on the American public and I can only hope that political options expand regardless of tomorrows results, perhaps because of them. If this election has taught us anything it’s that we’ve started to see beyond the illusion of choice, but now it’s time to sit back and watch what happens next. Vote, with your heart, mind and soul, but vote because it WILL make a difference to you down the road, whether you like to believe that or not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *