Good Guy/Bad Guy Politics

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.


Filed under america, analysis, bad guy, barn, barn stormer, barnstormer, bush, cooperation, democrat, discussion, good guy, iraq, oil, opinion, politics, rational, reactionary, republican, rove, solution, stormer, Uncategorized, war

4 responses to “Good Guy/Bad Guy Politics

  1. One argument that I will present is that you cannot appease everybody. In my opinion, it’s the centerist movement that has muddled up politics and has created some of our biggest problems. Politicians need to be firm on their issues and stances in order to be taken seriously or regard. This wishy-washy, flip floping thing that politicians on both sides of the line is doing more harm than good. How can you take a poitician seriously when they say one thing and do another? Or say one thing, then say somethign contrary? Both Republicans and Democrats are doing it right now, and it’s weakening the American political structure. I don’t think we need good guy/bad guy views, but we definately need some stricter stances on the part of the politicians. Trying to make everybody happy just dosn’t work. You will always end up pissing off somebody no matter what you do, however backtracking and flip floping ends up pissing off everybody.

  2. I completely agree with you. I think that not taking a firm stand is precisely why our politicians are so inefficient right now. They’re surrounded by marketing people who tell them what the most popular opinions to take at a particular moment are. If you think back to Winston Churchill, regarded as one of the greatest leaders of Great Britain, he was the only person in their government who demanded that Hitler be stopped by force. After years of saying this and being ignored, suddenly Britain is being bombed by the Nazis from France. He came back, helped keep Britain strong and they won the war (with a little help from their friends). No more posturing! Stand up for what you believe in.

  3. Thanks for your kind comment on my blog. Curious as to who had left it, I came here and started to read. In another article you wrote, that Newt politico sounds a pretty ugly kind of hypocrite.

    Splitting hairs or not, I regret to take issue with the following:

    “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.”

    We are not all American, we are people. And America is not the greatest country in the world. Like every other country, it’s a collection of relatively arbitrary political lines where all kinds of people live. The higher value on co-operation you write about is a global issue because there are people outside America’s borders as well as inside them.

    An article about problems of political polarisation needs no narrowing down to two political labels, or even one country. It’s everywhere, and often enough, such polarisation is motivated by non-benevolent, self-interested power hungry individuals.

    Thanks for the informative perspective, nonetheless. It got me thinking, and typing. I do not think your article was centrist. Perhaps a little more like (what perhaps ought to be) common sense.

  4. Haha, the line about America not being the greatest country in the world is definitely open to dispute. I say it more because its a solemnly believed fact by Americans than because I believe we somehow are a “greater” than other nations. In fact, we are delusional, self-indulgent and negligent of our responsibilities to the rest of the planet and even to our own citizens. I’m glad you read some of my articles and got something out of them. They were written mainly from my own frustration with partisan politics and the business of money for legislation that dominates our corporate culture. Corruption currently runs down to the very heart and soul of the United States, but I firmly believe that with respectful dialogue we can resolve our differences and work together to make the world a better place. Call me an optimist.

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