I spent an hour or so tonight talking to a co-worker who is a really good guy, but a fairly liberal Democrat. I think he'd pretty contently describe himself that way. I like working with this guy but we generally avoid the topic of politics, I think because we've assumed that we'd not agree on much.
Well, tonight we somehow mellowed a bit and started talking about political matters. Everything from gun control to nationalized health care, to taxes and gay marriage and speed limits, etc. Just everything. And, turns out, we pretty much agree on damn near all of it. There are areas here and there were we don't agree on what the best possible solution to a given problem might be, but even in those areas we agree on the problems themselves, and we share the same motives with regard to why those problems ought to be solved.
And, this is the thing. This is why it matters. The two-party, Republican vs. Democrat system is set up to keep me and this guy at odds (at worst) or simply not talking (at best). We're supposed to assume that we have nothing in common and cannot see eye to eye, so dialogue is pointless. But it isn't.
It comes down to this. The left/right, Republican/Democrat paradigm is completely false. It's an artificial construct that serves the powers that be because it prevents communication. And as long as we continue to buy into it, nothing is ever going to change. The real line isn't drawn between red and blue in America. The real line is drawn with those who control the laws and the money on one side, and everyday Americans on the other side.
On our side, there's you and me. Average Americans of every stripe who are simply trying to get by and take care of our own loved ones. And we're only different on superficial levels. The things that we have in common, with regard to dreams and ambitions and priorities, are the things at our very cores. Across the line, on the other side, there are the politicians and lawyers and investors, the people who keep dividing up the pie between them with increasingly convoluted and indecipherable legislation. Those are the people we should be working against. Not each other.
God help those who hold our reigns if average Americans ever really turn and face them instead of bickering between us. Can you imagine how they'd feel if they knew we were onto them? Once that happens, there might be some real, positive change in this country. Until that day, the changes will be regular, and celebrated, and entirely cosmetic. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."