Red vs Blue. My cousin and I are only a handful of months apart. We essential grew up together and constantly fought; from who got to be Raphael when we played ninja turtles to the best character in our favorite show to the types of superpowers we would have if we had any. Often times these arguments became scuffles as children sometimes fail at using words and attempt to communicate with hands. Roughly twenty years down the road and we still consistently fight, although there is significantly a lower amount of fisticuffs and a large amount of logical discourse. Normally these discussions end in general greater appreciation of the other’s point of view. However, there is still one matter we cannot agree: Red or Blue. I lean toward Blue, my cousin toward Red. The original United States version of Pokémon featured either a Blue or Red cartridge. Each cartridge had a set of unique and specific Pokémon to capture. We were both convinced of the validity of our choices and refused to listen to the other. It became so heated that we refused to speak to each other for a month. Our arguments about this now normally consist of simply playfully insulting each other in a nostalgic manner. What does this tirade of fond musing have to do with the political realm of America? As I travel down the blog post roads that have led to this final post I hope the Pokémon analogy will become relevant.
The beginning of this journey examined the power of social media through twitter and Facebook with later comparisons and contrasts of social media outlets. Here I followed the primary tweets and found the disturbing trend of negativity. Of course there are many who claim that I should have expected as much from the internet. Some believe the internet serves as the perfect medium for expressing opinions without the social necessity of saying something to a person’s face. For these techno-pessimists the web allows for people to forget the humanity of the other people accessing the content, and thus begin losing their own connection to humanity and empathy. Whether the tech encourages less empathetic behavior, or the tech just shows the inherent lack of empathy in mankind, or a combination of both, the trend on social media shows a less kind world. Time and again posts devolved into little more than name calling and childish tantrums. This political season is the first time those born in a world of affordable personal computers and smartphones have been able to vote. The affects are that the benefits and the detriments of the internet hold sway over a larger more tech savvy generation. Bernie Sanders obviously found a voice among the people and quickly his tech experienced followers began to expand his brand and message. The ability to share quick bits of information with powerful images is the corner stone to his follower’s style.
Following the thread of Bernie Sanders’ campaign showed a distinct middle ground between the traditional political parties. Although Bernie Sanders is a democrat many who flew to his banner came from the middle of the road, the left side of the right, or the independent. His policy drew some but his stand against corruption pulled large crowds. He managed to tap into the collective unrest of the nation to build a foundation. However, this foundation was a living beast consisting of a large portion of dissatisfaction with the current national system. The beast broke its bonds from its master and decided to find its own way forward. Some fled to Trump to spite Hillary Clinton, or for actual policy reasons. Some fled to Clinton to spite Trump, or for actual policy reasons. Some voted third party to vote their conscience. Some choose not to vote. The key thing is that the discontent never really vanished. Policy in this election has fallen to the side of the road, but has been replaced by general anger. The election this November with the anger, confusion, and frustration seemingly sums up the whole process. Although now with President elect Trump heading to the office, Bernie has regained many of his followers. He has vowed to continue the good fight and wear the white hat if the president elect should try and harm the American people. Besides Bernie, himself, large groups of individuals have come together in order to continue the campaign of disillusionment and dissatisfaction. This is exhibited here by the persistence of groups like The People for Bernie Sanders.
The country and society stand torn with factions falling beyond the normal two party system. Anger and distrust seem to be separating people. Lines are being drawn alienating people from society and their fellow man. This should come as little surprise for those following the escalation of this previous political season. Negativity reigned supreme on both sides creating the most negative partisan voting seen in this country. Every now and then something changes the landscape of societal practices. There is a saying that mudslinging is as American as apple pie, but the landscape has now changed. This idea of negative campaigning has polarized the country nearly making it impossible for civil discussion and discourse to take place. The problem is that no civil society can exist without the ability to have mannered discourse. In all of the blog post from this fall the common theme seems to revolve around the inability of the majority of Americans to empathize with their opponents. Ubiquitously naming specific groups and defining all members of that group with certain types of intrinsic values and traits creates the ability to label people as other. This ability to alienate our fellow citizen allows for simple dismissal of ideas. In an age of near instant translation of information our bandwidth seems to have come to a near screeching halt with regards to reaching across the aisle. Perhaps this falls into the techno-pessimist camp, but the easy of the internet to connect with like-minded individuals means it is easy to fall into the trap of the echo chamber. As people and as a nation we cannot allow these chambers to hold infinite sway on how we approach an idea contrary to our normal beliefs. Dialogue, true and honest dialogue and not simply rhetoric, needs to survive for our society to survive. As a society we seem to be losing our skills with and words, and are beginning to turn toward communicating with our anger and our fists. In regards to Red vs Blue never forget that there are people on both sides of the conversation.