Political Insights Gleaned in a Waiting Room

It’s easy to see the single biggest problem in our politics.

It’s much harder to move past it.

The problem is not the people running, per se. I mean, yes, quite a few of them very much are problems, but they are a symptom.

The problem is not even the structural inequities, bigotry, and racism. Yes, they are problems, but they are not the problem in politics.

It came to me in the waiting room.

Unfortunately, while I waited I was exposed to broadcast TV. That also meant I was exposed to quite a lot of political ads.

Those ads are not the problem either, but they reveal the problem.

They weren’t about policies, really.

They were about who was a "good" Party member. [1]

American politics has become nothing more than signaling what "team" you’re on. [2]

And that has nothing to do with running the country, let alone improving it.

When it becomes about "teams" – especially ones that your sense of self is tied to – then your focus becomes on the team "winning".

And that affects more than just the individual games. Remember the Penn State scandal a decade ago? I remember people who – until the weight of evidence was just too much to ignore – defended that predatory coach and the system… because of the team.

After thinking about that, think back over this century. Particularly the last six years.

I’m sure an example of people supporting a politician who actively undermines what they stand for will suggest itself. [3]

Yes, think about the hypocrisy of other people when they blindly support "their team".

And then do the much harder work of looking for the cognitive dissonance in yourself.

Then change the focus. In yourself. In everyone you talk to.

It is not about the teams.

It’s about what those teams are supposed to be doing that matters.

It is about the inspirational "mission statements" of this country. Even if the people who wrote those ideals of liberty, equality, and justice could not see their own hypocrisy, those ideals still matter.

There are plenty of difficulties and problems in our world, and in this country in particular.

Focus on the reality of those, not just which team you’re on.

And beware of those who insist you focus on teams.

They probably have nothing else to offer.

Featured Photo by Brian Wertheim on Unsplash

[1] I am implying exactly what you think I’m implying.
[2] I’m not just counting our two "official" teams. There’s at least two others that I can think of.
[3] See footnote # 2.