Politics and the government were originally created in order to help people survive, become richer and maintain their liberties, well, at least in the United States and countries with similarly structured governments. However, things seem to be different now. Nowadays, politics seem like a team sport where the more your side’s narrative gets pushed and accepted, the more you win. The more your side can legislate according to their narrative, the more points you get. Those who try and deny your narrative become your opponent, whom you must either convert to your own side or fight against. Instead of looking for solutions to problems, politicians try and push their agenda for the sake of moral superiority, or to justify irrational feelings.
Here is a brief overview of how the narratives go:
According to the right, barbarians from across the world are invading the West to destroy our culture and values. The left’s hubris is allowing this to happen by labeling everything racist and sexist. Tradition is dying, gender no longer has meaning, free speech is under attack and both the media and academia are brain-washing the younger generation into thinking the same way.
Then, according to the left, the story is quite the opposite. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination are at an all-time high in the Western world, proven by the election of Donald Trump and the Republican party. Unjustified hatred for Muslims, Latinxs and blacks is rampant from Bible-belt Republicans, women are being told what to do with their own bodies and conservatives deny the state that the planet is in because greedy corporations want money.
These are both dramatized versions of how both sides see the world, so I am not suggesting that this is what all people on the right or all people on the left believe. Neither of these represent my personal beliefs either. Both narratives have some truth and some outright lies on their side, but the truth is not what matters to politicians and journalists nowadays. It’s all about the views, clicks, votes and people yo convince to join your side.
In a world where you have to dig deep into research studies because you know that the media will twist reality to suit their agenda, it’s hard to believe anything anymore.
Every time there is a terrorist attack associated with Islam, the Conservatives gain one point, and liberals have to go on a tangent about how the attack does not represent Muslims. Every time there is an instance of unjustified police brutality targeting a person of color, liberals gain one point, while the Conservatives start asserting that the attack does not represent all white police officers. Attacks like these, which actually cause deaths, are celebrated silently by politicians, journalists and news organizations they benefit, while the victims’ families are left to pick up the pieces by themselves. Both sides are guilty of this, whether you like it or not.
When the left speaks the language of morality and compassion, the right replies with the language of economics and national security. They dismiss each others’ languages as the language of the selfish or the language of the stupid and talk past each other. This way, one can not get anything done. Can’t we go back to the days where the media just reported on what happened, letting the public decide for themselves what political picture to paint in their minds? Can’t we all feel free to safely share our ideas and criticize the bad ones in a civilized manner? Can’t we listen, for once, to those we demonize, speak the same language and shape our view of the world accordingly? Or are narratives more important?