Monday, September 26, 2011

Week of 09/26/2011

Time to End Tunnel Vision Politics
– by David Matthews 2

My father has a problem sometimes when he’s driving. It’s not just that he’s getting old. It’s that sometimes he gets fixated on an idea when he’s driving and he shuts himself out of everything else.

For instance, he could be on the highway and he finds himself behind a car that isn’t moving as fast as he would like it to. If he’s doing seventy on the highway (and, yes, there are places in Georgia where that is the speed limit) and the car ahead of him is doing sixty-five, then that is unacceptable to him and he needs to get around that car. If he can pass that car, fine. But then the car ahead of him starts doing seventy-five, so he needs to do eighty. He will pursue that car, doing everything in his power to try to get around that car, until he either achieves that goal, or either the other car turns off the highway, or if he reaches his exit and he has to turn off the highway. And nothing in the world will disturb him from his one-track mind. And sometimes he’ll even end up skipping the exit because he’s so fixated on just getting around that car.

It’s called “tunnel vision”. You don’t have to be driving to experience this. You could be playing a video game where you’re stuck on one level or one challenge that you really want to get beyond, and you become fixated, even obsessed, with getting it done and getting it out of the way. It’s no longer about a mental diversion. It’s no longer about “taking a break” or “finding a stopping point”. Your ego, your very being, is seemingly at stake here; and you become fixated on the idea that you’re going to get through this if it becomes the very last thing that you ever do!

I’m sure many of us have gone through those moments at least once or twice. And sometimes it’s for reasons that, looking back later on, you’d have to admit were pretty stupid.

I bring this up because it seems to be the only plausible explanation behind the insanity going on in politics, especially when it comes to the perpetual failure machines that are the Democrats and President Barack Obama. It is the only rational answer behind the insane question of how a person, a group of people, or even a whole political party can get behind something that is diametrically the polar opposite of everything that they claim to be or support.

If I were to tell you that the solution to a problem is “A”, and you agree with me that the solution to that problem is “A”, how is it that you could then champion “Z”, the complete opposite of what “A” is, and then proclaim that you’ve “solved” the problem? Either you’re an evil, manipulative, maliciously fraudulent liar, or you’re a mindless Doofus from Texas, or you got caught up in tunnel vision somewhere between supporting “A” and enacting “Z”.

It is the only way to explain how the Democrats could knowingly pass what they called “healthcare reform” and then pretend that it was what they’ve always been pushing for. When the problem is the tyranny of the big insurance and medical companies, how is giving them everything that they could ever dream about be considered “reform”? And how in the world could Democrats take a look at that idea and both soberly and honestly say “yes, this is what we’ve always been for in the first place”? Then, on top of that, how could they defend it with a straight face and think that it should be considered a “win” for Team Obama? You really want to find these people and smack some sense into them. Repeatedly.

Yes, it’s an uphill fight to fix the problems with healthcare. You have big money coming in from Big Pharma and Big Insurance and Big Hospitals and they have already proven that they will spend any kind of money needed to prevent anything from affecting their gold mine. That is pretty much a given.

So, knowing that proven fact from the onset, why did the Dems and Obama take their eyes off the prize? Why did they sacrifice key reform ideas like single-payer in return for a few bureaucratic prohibitions and forcing Americans to pay for insurance even if they cannot afford to? The only rational explanation, outside of being either woefully inept or sadistically evil, has to be tunnel vision. They became so fixated on just passing that legislation that they could no longer care what was really in it.

And this is what makes them the miserable failures that they have become. They are so fixated on winning that they don’t realize what it is they’re really supporting, and then their own egos will not allow them to admit that they made a mistake. A win is a win is a win as far as they are concerned. They could end up passing a law that sends their own grandmothers into slavery tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter, because to them it is considered a political victory to gloat about.

Unfortunately that has become the norm in politics. Everything has become a venom-tipped battle full of bluster and rhetoric. How many times have we been forced to go through yet another political stalemate for what should be a non-issue? Every budget becomes a verbal war on taxes and spending, continual political brinksmanship, dares and double-dares, and then finally some sort of compromise that nobody likes but everyone says “needs to be made”; and then everyone goes back into their corners to vent and fume until the next pre-arranged loggerhead. How many times do we have to endure this act of psychological torture before the Geneva Convention gets brought into this?

And here’s the thing: both the Dems and the GOP are playing this game! They’re both guilty of maliciously engaging in and encouraging their people to have tunnel vision.

“Hold the line!” shout the so-called “Tea Party” people. “Don’t let them raise your taxes! Don’t let them spend your money! Shut the government down!”

But if you ask about subsidies and tax breaks for Big Oil, they’d tell you those are “bad”. “Shouldn’t be given,” they’d say. Corporate bailouts? “Bad.” But the minute you talk about ending them, those things become “tax increases” and then we’re right back to “Hold the line!”

No brains. No thought put into any of these things. Pure political reaction. Tunnel vision. They are nothing more than idiotic tools at this point; mindlessly responding to the talking point memos given to them by the Ministry of Truth (aka: conservative and neo-conservative talk radio and FoxNews).

And the punchline is… they’re being played. Yes, for every pre-fabricated loggerhead they are goaded into, there is a compromise made that they will scream and shout about. They vow “retribution” at the ballot box for that compromise. But come election time, those same people will then cower and cave. They will end up voting for the GOP candidate that they don’t like, because they are told that “the alternative would be worse”.

And how do I know this? Because I’ve seen it before, time and time again. Despite the promises of change, despite the threats of voting “third party”, despite the talk about needing a clean slate, the bulk of the voters that bother to show up at the ballot box come Election Day will succumb to tunnel vision and support their party pick. It’s how people like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi manage to stay in office despite her gross ineptitude as Speaker of the House. It’s how Harry Reid manages to stay in power in the Senate.

Yes, election time is usually when the political tunnel vision is at its worst. No matter the candidate, no matter what they have done in the past, no matter how they personally stand on certain issues, if they get past the primary, then the party voters will be compelled to vote for that candidate. “Swallow your pride,” the party faithful are told. “You have to vote for our guy because the alternative will be worse!” “The choices are bad,” they are told, “but that’s still our candidate, and it’s more important for our party to stay in office instead of the alternative.”

This is the real reason why the Democrats and the GOP have been able to amass so much power for almost one hundred years. They managed to talk the masses into tunnel vision time and time again. With us or against us. Us or them. Zero-sum. Black or white. The “lesser of two evils”, even though you are still voting for evil! “The devil we know”? No, it’s merely “the party’s devil”.

Let’s get brutally honest here… it is high time that we end the tunnel vision thinking.

If you don’t like the status quo, then it is your responsibility to not support it. Don’t threaten to vote “third party” if you aren’t ready to actually do it. There are numerous “third party” groups out there already. There is no excuse to not support any of them if they come closer to what you believe in that the two dominant parties. And if you say they automatically “can’t win”, then you are catering to the tunnel vision mindset. It is cowardice on behalf of the electorate, plain and simple. Lilly-livered, yellow-bellied, with the matching lemon yellow streak down their backs, spineless, gutless, impotent cowardice.

And the party bosses actually rely on you to be political cowards. They expect you to follow their leads, even if you hate it, even if you are doing it kicking and screaming all the way. But they would rather goad you into following their lead. They would rather convince you that this is what you really wanted. It makes their job easier if you’re being brainwashed into going along with the status quo. As long as you are continually reacting, then you don’t time to think about your actions, because you can’t act anymore. You can only react. That is what tunnel vision does. It narrows your mind, limits your choices, and makes it hard for you to back down and think about what you’re doing.

My father would get bothered when someone interrupts him from his tunnel vision. He would hate it, but he would later realize that what he was doing wasn’t good. It is long since time that we tap the electorate on the shoulder and break them from their brain-lock.

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