Thursday, July 8, 2010
Last week, a friend responded to what I thought was a rather innocuous statement about wanting the country to "go a little faster" with what I thought was a reactionary, alarmist, tea bagger/Ayn Randian diatribe. This was a shock, to say the least, and judging by how much I've thought about it and replayed it, the whole exchange has me troubled.
My friend wept for me because I sound like I advocate revolution. I don't want an individualistic democracy where citizens pull themselves up by their bootstraps - I want socialism, she said. After all, progressives are really socialists. I want a dictator and loss of freedom. She asked me to explain myself. She wrote, I see the danger you don't see.
Normally I would have discounted such a reply. I would play it off to ignorance and fear. But me and her, we've known each other since our freshman years of high school, I've vacationed with her and her family, and I know she's smart and reasonable. I couldn't discard the reply.
I told her that I'm not calling for revolution. There's an on-going debate over the role the government plays in our lives, and it's the push and pull between the two sides that allows our country to change, adapt, and correct itself. I may not always like the direction it's going, but this is why we have elections. I thought this was a reasonable and even simplistic remark, but even this came off as radical.
This was not just a political debate between friends; rather, it illustrates one of the biggest problems our country seems to have--despite so much common ground and common goals between us, two distinct world views divide us. And because of the corrupting influences of money and power, our leaders are unwilling or impotent to bridge that gap.