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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 21 February 2014

Political People

A good piece by Delacourt, though I'm biased:

So on and so forth.

But I think she's dead wrong on one point - a key point:

Fans celebrate Team Canada win
How many Team Canada jerseys did I see on the streets today?  How many people put on garb and makeup for athletic events in general?  Or do Cosplay, or dress like a hipster, or wear a pin for cancer awareness?  Why do we spend so much money on fashion in the first place?

Symbols matter; we see the world through the lens of symbols.  That's not something that sets us apart; that's something we have in common.  We also understand the world through identification - threat, benefit, no value.  That's basic biological hardwiring. 

The more competitive we are, the more we rely on these narrow frames; one group to belong to, another to define ourselves against.  There's nothing unique to political people about this.  It's innate to everybody.  By gender, language, ethnicity, sexuality, even music preference we're always creating "us" and "them" categorizations.

You put anyone under conditions of extreme, chronic competitive strain, they will distill the world down into zero-sum competition; with them, against them or in their way.

You see, there is fundamentally nothing different between us and political people - it's the competitive, time-sensitive and increasingly expensive pressures of political culture that makes them feel the need to differentiate from us.  It makes it easier to be manipulative of voters and vicious to their opponents - and controlling of their own teams.

We need to dehumanize people before we can treat them in inhumane fashion.  And that's exactly what politics does; this is why partisan politics is spiraling down the ethical drain and increasingly focused on micro-targeting key messages to key, targeted constituents.  It's not about growing the country equitably; it's about fighting over shrinking resources.

Which leads into the real nub of the issue here.  When "Canadians" start to see themselves as different than those "political people", it's not because they're trying to figure out why the behavioural differences; it's a subconscious way of dehumanizing them, allowing for less humane treatment back.

We can't say we weren't warned, though.

I shouted out
Who killed the Kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me

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