“I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared… that no ‘two evil’ exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say,” said W.E.B. Dubois in 1956.
The political spectrum is generally conceived of in one of two ways:
One, as a line stretching from the far-Left at one end to the far-Right at the other end. In this model, to get from one end to the other an individual has to cross over the buffer zones of the mainstream Left and Right to get from one extreme to the other.
Two, more sophisticated thinkers conceive of it as a sort of color wheel, where the extreme Left and Right actually meet up, just like the mainstream Left and Right. Advocates of this view point out that while the Republican Party is staunchly pro-capitalism, the far-Right, like the far-Left, tends to be anti-capitalist. It can also be more opposed to war, and more critical of Israel, again, making it (the far-Right) closer to the far-Left.
I have a third idea, however (though it is not entirely different to Dubois’ of “two evils” acting as one force): That is, that the spectrum is a kind of whirlpool — a rotating, yet downward force. The Left and Right aren’t fixed on the left and right, in this model, but circulate around — though always opposed to each other — changing places, both over time and over the same issues but in relation to different groups.
In power, each party adopts the positions of the one they ousted and forget the outrage at them that they professed when they were out of power. The party that was passionately against the then current war, when they were out of power, is the one to passionately advocate for the next when they are in power.
But, no matter where they are, the political parties and their millions of followers cannot be counted on for consistency.
Take for example, any of the hot button issues: gay rights, women’s rights, religion, “small government” and taxation. Who is for, and who is against, each of these issues? You may feel, instinctively, that you know. You know whether it is the Left or the Right that is for gay rights, for example. But, that really depends on whether the advocates are talking about America or, let’s say, Iran — where homosexuality is punishable by public lashing, and, if caught enough times, by execution (since Ayatollah Khomeini ruled on the issue, transgendered people can, however, legally undergo gender reassignment surgery).
The Right is silent on the issue (or opposed to it) in regard to one country but will use it to attack the other one, and the Left is very, very silent in regard to the one criticized by Republicans. Same with women’s rights.
Same with small government. The mainstream Right is against public spending when it is for healthcare for fellow citizens, but for the biggest government the world has ever seen when it comes to military spending, and funding military bases across the globe (and let’s not forget that “big government” is a Left-wing position, according to Republicans).
For better or worse, ideology once acted to guide the actions of the political. Now “ideology” (a grab bag of incompatible positions) is dragged in to explain contradictions — why we are outraged about violations of certain rights here and here, but not here; why we’re for small government, except when we’re for the world’s biggest government, why we’re for free speech for only some opinions, and so on.
Notice today that supporters of Hillary Clinton are passionately against Donald Trump for his “racist” remarks that Muslims should not be allowed to emigrate to the US. Okay. But, why aren’t they in the slightest bit concerned — and don’t even recall — that their candidate was the “chief architect” of the war on the Muslim country of Libya? (A country that no one even claimed was a threat to the US.) I’m not taking a position on the candidates. I’m merely pointing out the inconsistency in their followers.
Why do the political only apply their morals to the other side? Why do we see this? Politics isn’t about the issues. The issues just allow the geeks and jocks to extend the bullying and hurt feelings of their teenage years into their adult years.
I don’t ask people to be Left-wing or Right-wing. I ask you only to be consistent. In a way — I admit it — that’s kind of a trick. Because if you’re consistent you’ll soon discover that you don’t have any friends who are fanatical about politics — the way that some people are fanatical about “supporting” their sports team. That’s a good thing, because politics, as we see it played out today, is about the lower man.
What, then, is the attitude of the higher man in relation to politics?:
(1) Be consistent. If you are consistent you will evaluate the arguments on their merits, not according to which political gang is offering you protection. You don’t need that.
(2) Try to understand the other side. Try to realize that there is a range of reasons why people may vote the way they do. It’s not necessarily because they don’t like people like you. Have compassion and detachment. The screaming mob is made up of lesser men. Perhaps if you had not developed yourself, you, too, would be among them.
(3) Understand that the political will change their minds, both over time, and from minute to minute, whenever it is inconvenient to be consistent (and it frequently is). The politicians are not the real problem. Their supporters are. They will ignore or distort the facts in order to convince or attack people they’ve never met. The truth is of no consequence to them. They enjoy feeling that that are so committed that they would lie or bend the truth for their party, leader, or candidate.
(4) Understand that this is all human foolishness. The way of the higher man is found understanding the impermanence of things, including his own life, and in working to embody the timeless, and the higher principles of life, Nature, or the Way (the Tao of classical Chinese thought). Be consistent, truthful with yourself, compassionate, and seek always to grow.
(5) Develop a lifestyle of making the mind, body, and spirit stronger, so that you will be impervious to the whirlpool-like force of the political — impervious to slogans, to the mob mentality, and to the love of half-truths and the public image of this or that political savior figure.
(6) Learn about deeper, and older, culture and what it contributed positively to the world, whether that’s European Christian or pre-Christian culture, Islamic gnosticism (‘Irfan) in Persian Shi’ism, some aspect of African-American culture such as Moorish Science, or Hinduism or Buddhism, etc.
(7) Seek to elevate others by setting an example, and passing on how they can improve themselves away from the whirl of the political.