Opposites Detract

A new study says polarization has increased in the American electorate over the past 20 years.
More people are hard left or hard right, they have a greater tendency to associate with like-minded people and are more dismissive of those from the opposing camp.

Concerned about this trend and wishing to do something to counteract my worldview-limiting leftward ideological isolation, I reached out to our Trail Baboon poet laureate, Schulyer Tyler Wyler, who has three names that he uses regularly and moneyed relatives so I assume he’s a staunch Republican.

As soon as I noted my concerns about political disfunction and revealed that I have voted exclusively for Democrats in the last four presidential elections, he cut the conversation short and has since refused to deal with me directly, preferring that I communicate with him through Roderick, his minion.

I asked Roderick to relay the message that I wanted a short work of sing-song poetry to lament this destructive partisan trend in our national conversation. Roderick brought back the reply that I could ask for a poem but under no circumstances could I or my “fellow travelers” dictate anything about the content.

I took that to mean it might not be a lament.

The voices of our people rise.
Our minds are all made up.
Our taking points are no surprise.
We simply echo, “Yup”

We are not cattle of the field,
But up our minds are made.
All curiosity, congealed.
All doubts have been allayed.

Don’t think our thoughts inflexible.
Just made, all up, our minds are.
Alternatives are execrable.
Consigned where our behinds are.

I think STW is mocking me here.  Unless he’s agreeing with me.  It’s so hard to tell when you can’t read someone’s label.

What makes you unorthodox?

31 thoughts on “Opposites Detract”

  1. Good morning. I am not a republican and I am not a democrat. You could say I am an independent. I probably don’t fit well into the way most people think of independents. I am not one of those independents who is some where in-between republican and democrat.

    I don’t see democrats as being on the left. There often isn’t too much difference between republicans and democratic except that there are some republicans that are very far to the right. I assume that my opinion on the positions of the republicans and democrats would be considered unorthodox by most people. I see myself as being in favor of changes which are needed and not being very well addressed by either of the two major parties.

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  2. The wide assortment of Libertarian-themed bumper stickers on my 1991 Camry. After that, the fact that I’m a golfaholic oenophile who enjoys wilderness canoeing, writing, and stock trading. I’ve yet to come close to finding a box into which I fit. 🙂

    Chris in Owatonna

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  3. Sometimes it seems like not over-scheduling my child makes me unorthodox. Perhaps less so with my neighbors (again with the “like lives near like” that has cropped up with the Dem/Rep discussions), but certainly among a number of her peers. It helps that she has not asked to play a sport, and I have said “no” to one or two activities – especially since it is by her insistence that she continues with both piano and clarinet (even over the summer). She has told me a couple of times that she appreciates my limits on activities (unless she really wants to do something new and I force her to choose what to give up…that she’s not a fan of, especially if she knows in her heart of hears that the new thing is only interesting because friends are involved). Heck, I even let her get bored and let her suffer through days without playing with anyone but herself. I’m such a rebel…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What? A child who gets to be a child? How could you? I was considered a rebel when I refused to send my son, at age 12 — to college test prep camp in Chicago with his friends. That was too much for me.

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    2. I’d let my child get bored, but he has running shoes and a library card, so probably won’t be happening this summer.

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    3. Good for you, Anna. Many parents lament about how busy their family is, but few actually deliberately try to put a limit on activities.

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  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Just being born seems to make me unorthodox–I was born into a Republican family (Mom’s side)from NW Iowa/SW Minnesota. This region is overwhelmingly right-leaning, as well. Dad’s family, who I more closely resemble, is a bunch of Lefty Democrats from Central Iowa. They used to say they found it a privelege to pay taxes here. Not an opinion expressed by the Right-leaners.

    Civil dialogue just never seemed possible–arguments would escalate, relatives would bate each other. My Right-wing Grandpa had a stroke in 1976 on the day when Jimmy Carter was elected. Neither Grandpa nor Pres. Carter ever recovered. I learned that the beliefs and opinions I held about political topics were best kept to myself.

    The larger question is how did my Left-leaning, dad-attracted Mom every emerge from HER family and live through it?

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    1. Yes, I come from almost identical stock, Jacque (after all, we have the same small town Bergen Lutheran Cookbook). Never came up about my grandparents’ politics while I was around, but my dad and siblings were certainly conservative. I suppose my dad put up with a lot with my sister and me, and just rolled his eyes.

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  5. I like to think of myself as very unorthodox, the sort of person who when the mainstream starts moving closer, gets up and heads for the fringes again. I think I am probably flattering myself about how countercultural I am. The problem is, I also take a long time to absorb a concept and decide whether to adopt it, thus, for instance, I ended up getting a nose piercing about the time they’d peaked in popularity back in the early 90s. OTOH, I think my prematurely grey hair coupled with my body art makes me look a bit like someone’s hip auntie.

    The nice thing about being Neopagan is that there really isn’t an orthodoxy, so everyone’s unorthodox. In the re-creationist traditions like Asatru and Hellenism, it seems like there’s always someone trying to tell everyone else they aren’t doing it right (“right” meaning the way The Ancestors did it, based on the latest archaeological text since The Ancestors didn’t have the courtesy to write stuff down), but if they get annoying one always has the option of picking up one’s toys and going off on one’s own. That’s what I did, when I disagreed with some of the politics of my home tradition.

    Bringing this back to the topic of polarization of American “discourse,” The Archdruid of North America, John Michael Greer, writes great books and a fantastic blog about collapse and peak oil, and one of his teachings (both secular and spiritual) is thinking in tertiary instead of binary terms. If you’re faced with a black/white. either/or situation, look for the third (or fourth or nineteenth, there’s no limit) option to break the deadlock. It might not even be a compromise between the two extremes, it might well be something not even considered because the thinking was so blinkered up till then. But that requires people to want resolution instead of the massing of power, so I doubt that sort of thinking will ever filter its way into government. Useful for community groups, perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Let’s see. Being an only child, keeping my name when I married, refusing to have TV in the house when the children were at home, leaving son and husband to fend for themselves for a year in ND when I did my psychology internship in IA, being a liberal in a conservative state, growing veggies in the front yard, not caring about the lawn, playing bass guitar in an American Indian rock/gospel band, not coloring the grey in my hair. . . As they say out here “She’s kind of different”.

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  7. I often choose jobs that are off the beaten track – have worked at the Wedge Co-op back when it was tiny (in a former 7-11 storefront), a holistic vet, an offbeat group of business consultants, Louise Erdrich’s book store…

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  8. i try to keep my unorthodox aspects quiet in my old age but i find my efforts are less than stellar. i tend to speak before thinking and that leads to the give away of my true inner unorthodoxness.

    The problem with having a thought
    Is the idea of not getting caught
    Are less than the chance
    That your great maden aunts
    Was when she chose to get what she got

    Opinions are certainly telling
    Personality traits are compelling
    The information from you
    Twists the truths that you view
    Smoke and mirrors is what you’re selling

    The Lord giveth and then he’ll alloweth All northern views to go south
    But you get caught in the trap
    Buried waist deep in crap
    With the stuff coming out of your mouth

    Your philosophy tends to determine
    If a quote is from sage or from vermin
    If your thought matches mine
    Genius status I’ll find
    But the other sides tails will be squirmin

    Hes conservative but not quite enough
    The tea party boots just the stuff
    Now instead of minority leader
    A centrist scumbag bottom feeder
    Thrown under the bus to be tough

    Obama lost his liberal rank
    Put himself in the proverbial tank
    With the far left extremist
    He’s not the lefty supremist
    His ratings have progressively sank

    In the old days there could be a discussion
    With anyone who wasn’t a Russian
    He might have different views
    But that wasn’t big news
    That he didn’t agree wasn’t crushin

    Today it is all black and white
    Agree with me or else you’re not right
    Rush Limbaugh sees it his way
    Jon Stewart will say
    It makes for comedy almost every night

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    1. Oh, that is good news. I’ve been worried, but hate talking on the phone, so hadn’t tried to call him. Thanks for passing that on, BiR.

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  9. Hi, I’ve tried posting here several times in the last week with no luck. If I sign in it doesn’t like me. So That ABD is me and this post is me and I am Ben.

    So to catch up, thanks for all the good wishes for daughter Amelia as she graduated last week. All you Baboons are a congress not to be missed.

    As the farmer doing theater I have been considered unorthodox a few times.
    And in my sleeveless shirt, more than once was that considered unorthodox for the occasion. (I try to be aware of that and dress for the occasion… but something they sneak up on me.)

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    1. woo hoo
      congrats to your daughter. i hope amelia is able to find something that is as challenging and rewarding as school for the next chapter.

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  10. Unorthodox? Well let’s see; Being a ‘Person of Color’ in MN, sober for more than 3.5 years, Heavily involved in recovery, restoration, and service to others, rebuilding connections in supportive communities, intensive therapy, a former …well you get the point. When my friends and fellow member/attendees ask me how I do all this good work I quote my life motto: “It is harder for the devil to hit a moving target”.

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  11. Since I’m currently living in Romania ( 2 1/2 more weeks!), I am surrounded by a culture who are primarily Eastern Orthodox aka Orthodox Catholic aka Orthodox. Since I am not of this faith, I am, by definition, unorthodox.

    If you are speaking of politics, I voted for Reagan twice, and voted for Clinton twice. That makes me ‘just plain odd’ (thank you, Madislandgirl) in the eyes of both my Republican die hard friends and Democrat die hard friends. They vote for whoever has the capital R or D after their name. They don’t seem to understand my view of voting for the person who I think is the best choice for that particular election.

    Now that I think of it, I’d prefer to be Fancy Odd, rather than Plain Odd. Or how about Oddly Orthodox? Would that be a paradox or an oxymoron? Can I be unoxymoronic? Orthodox Paradox? Paradoxically oxymoronic? Or maybe I’m just moronic. After all, I go to the annual meeting of the Three Stooges Fan Club in Philadelphia each year.

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