by anti-folk hero
I’m not sure if this particular theory of politics has been posited before, but I’d like to take a moment to address something that I call “Good Guy/Bad Guy politics.” This is a form of political bickering wherein two sides of an issue are considered not only for what they actually state, but also for where they fall on an artificial scale of morality. Take a heated issue like abortion; pro-lifers are anti-abortion not only for religious reasons but also because they take certain religious tracts literally. As being religious necessitates believing you have the one truth, those who disagree with you are telling lies and thus bad guys. In response to this blanket stereotype, pro-choice advocates return the favor by depicting pro-lifers as religious fanatics devoid of decision making skills outside of exact Biblical text. This is the good guy/bad guy aesthetic at work. It is a reactionary technique used to polarize large groups of people into opposite sides of a particular issue.
Take Karl Rove’s strategy as Bush’s advisor. Rove tells Bush to take a far right stance on an issue, rather than a more centrist, cooperative stance; this immediately offends centrists and leftists who then chastise Bush for being divisive. Then, in retaliation to this flood of insults aimed at republicans, moderate-right and right voters move to the extreme right to support Bush (and in effect, pridefully defend their original support of Bush). Now we have people on the far left and the far right exchanging stereotypes and refusing to listen to each other’s points of view. Isn’t this a bit childish?
Occasionally, good guy/bad guy politics can be good. Take our long overdue switchover to an ecologically sustainable environment. This is a more clean cut issue where those who want to shut down polluters and move to sustainable fuels and organic foods are considered to be the goods guys and big industries are considered to be bad guys. Switching to sustainable fuels and organic foods would have mainly positive affects for the country and will be necessary to stop a complete meltdown of the planet. The wars in the middle east would become unnecessary and we would be able to keep more of our money in the country and put less of it into the hands of rich contracting companies like Halliburton and women-abusing-warlords in the middle east.
Until we can move away from good guy/bad guy politics, however, we will be stuck in a political world where hurling insults from either side of a fence has replaced conversation and logical debate. All of our beliefs are reactionary and based on the frustration of having an opposite side that won’t listen to what you have to say. In the end, we have to remember that we are all Americans before we are Democrats or Republicans, and if we want America to remain the greatest country in the world, we need to take each other seriously and place a higher value on cooperation. Otherwise the corrupt politicians and terrorists will have won.