We have a problem in the US. This isn’t about economics, or about social programs, or even about the issues. It is about our party system, and how it affects our citizen’s mentality towards politics.
So many individuals view folks as either a Liberal Democrat, or Conservative Republican. This viewpoint completely ignores any of the “gray” that lies between the two parties, not to mention the differing views within each of the parties themselves. It has lead to a binary view, and a proliferation of idealogues on both sides.
In reality, however, there is far more complexity to our country, and some folks simply don’t want to see it. It is not the Left or the Right, nor is it 180°; it is 360°, with maybe even a Z-axis tossed in there. Off the top of my head, I have put together just some of the different combinations available.
- Socially Liberal, Fiscally Social Democrat
- Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative Democrat
- Socially Conservative, Fiscally Conservative Democrat (ya, they exist)
- Socially Liberal, Fiscally Social Independant
- Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative Independant
- Socially Conservative, Fiscally Conservative Independant
- Socially Liberal, Fiscally Liberal Republican (ya, they exist)
- Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative Republican
- Socially Conservative, Fiscally Conservative Republican
These don’t even include the fact that the words Conservative and Liberal do not necessarily mean Republican or Democrat, respectively. In addition, it doesn’t even include Libertarians, or other much smaller parties (The Rent is Too Damn High Party is one of my favorites.) Sadly, though, this is not how the general public sees it.
This is due to a couple factors. Political rhetoric, and main stream media, or even worse, a combination of the two. I see skewed article titles that pull readers in, yet don’t actually get to a point until you read all the way through it. More often then not, the title is almost contradictory to the actual substance of the article. This happens on both sides of the road; a great example of this is the polar opposites that are made up of MSNBC and Fox News. Both are part of the problem, just as other forms of media are. This, however, leads to a shift that is becoming ever more prevalent: citizen journalists.
Citizen Journalists: Pros & Cons
With the advent of more and more social techonology, more advanced phones and video recording equipment, and an increased intrest in getting the word out, citizen journalism has grown quickly. However, there are good and bad things about this.
- They’re everywhere.
- They’re individuals (or small groups).
- They’re not sponsored (bought).
- Not always trained.
- Not vetted.
- Do not always show the “whole story”. (Often out of context)
- Often emotionally driven.
- Often heavily bias.
- Lacking in coordination with other citizen journalists (unless within a group).
Basically, there isn’t an easy method to see past the rhetoric, even with the advent of citizen journalists. They’re everywhere, often right in the middle of the action. However, being in the middle of the action often attributes to fierce emotions, and when often being emotionally driven, that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Nearly all citizen journalists are also individuals (or small groups), and not large organizations, and more often then not haven’t been swayed by the all mighty dollar. However, they are also not vetted, or proven, and lack any background check or leave out evidence if it is inconvenient (much like main stream media). Because of this, it is easy for a citizen journalist to be bias. I myself am not going to say that I am truly unbias. I have my opinions, and more often then not will happily relay them in my posts. I will, however, take in other viewpoints. Lastly, they are loosely connected, if connected at all. This creates cells of ideology and snippets of news that leave out the big picture, or skew a story simply because of the absence of major points.
The problem is, these cells of ideology eventually become public view, despite the whole story never being told.
What are the alternatives?
Well, the only thing left requires much more work. It requires a want, by the public, to see the whole story. A need to actually want to see both (or multiple) sides of a story instead of being surprised when some TV station does a special on the “rest of the story”. It requires the American public to become more active in their own wellbeing, instead of waiting to be told what to believe or trust in. It requires research, beyond just an article, to learn how something has likely been spun by the media.
This is not a left or right thing, not a Democrat or Republican thing. It is an American thing, and something that we need to realize and change.