Wednesday Vignette – getting in line

Even though I hate the gladiator-like format of those things, I tuned in to the debate last night, and forced myself to sit through it. It often deteriorated into shouting matches, with candidates taking jabs at each other. I had hoped to see more unity, but of course the goal with these debates is to make yourself look good, while making everyone else look bad. Talk about counterproductivity!  I can’t help but feel that these shows are only good for amplifying differences, not elevating similarities. All the booing and hissing that took place confirms that notion. And don’t get me started on all the labeling… sheesh!

A two-party system inevitably has to provide a roof for a wide range of opinions. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing – it’s just an different expression of the same thing. In Sweden, we have gobs of smaller parties. In order to further their agendas, they have to join others, relatively likeminded, and form coalitions – usually along ideological lines. In the end, the function of these coalitions is very similar to the two-party system of the US. Right now, the field of democratic hopefuls need to start thinking about forming more productive relationships with each other.  There is a big job awaiting whomever gets the nomination, and to be successful, they will need each other. (Which of course these made-for-TV soundbyte spectacles are not at all promoting.)

Study of green textures

Ferny, strappy, palmate, round… each filling their space in a productive collaboration to unite behind a powerful statement. That’s what we need the democrats to do. There is a tensive beauty in discourse and dissent, and our democracy depends on it. There is an inherent, inclusive brilliance in our variations.

My awesome old social studies teacher in high school explained the difference between ideology and political reality in an unforgettable way. He told us: “Think about the political spectrum not in the form of a line connecting right and left. Think of it in the shape of a horseshoe where extreme right and extreme left are very close. Ideologically they are vastly different, but their effect on the average citizen is pretty much identical”. Over the past three years, we have slid dangerously , and are well on our way toward the right tip of the shoe. This ship needs straightening, and fast!

All this to say that for as different as these debates force the candidates to say they are, I really think they are all rather similar. They are all positioned somewhere rather high up on the arc of the horseshoe, far away from the totalitarian extremes of the tips (where we’re currently headed). Thinking of it visually in that way, rather than through the use of more or less inane labels, helps keep perspectives clear. What the left flange of the herd of democratic candidates are offering, Forbes calls “compassionate capitalism”, which is a far cry from the explosive S-word. Again, labels wreaking havoc…

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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16 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – getting in line

  1. Tina says:

    I felt like horse-trading has begun (I’m sure it had already started), but it seemed more public in this debate. As for the shouting, talking over, the moderators absolutely suck–they weren’t even sure when the “debate” ended (commercial? more debate? who knows?)–let’s hear it for the mainstream TV media! Ugh!

    I love your high school teacher’s quote. Why can’t he/she run for pres??

    My WV is more mundane, just a garden shot, but thanks for hosting!!

  2. We watched the debates early on, but have no desire to see the current slugging matches. I do like the horseshoe metaphor.

    My WV:

    • annamadeit says:

      Yeah, I’m done with them too. I had missed a few, and realized yesterday I didn’t miss much. Sheesh… If this is their “best” think media’s methods make matters worse. There has GOT to be a better way to get the word out…

  3. sandy lawrence says:

    I’d like to see real debates return with thoughtful questions and information that voters can use in decision-making, with actual moderators from, say, League of Women Voters or American Library Assn. I’m sick of commercial interruptions – some of them ads by a participating candidate! – and I’m sick of the sideshow “Let’s you and him fight” format by commercial media interested only in entertainment pleasing to their corporate sponsors. Otherwise, ditch these faux “debates” and have townhalls instead, so that questions from real people and real answers from candidates can be aired. I believe media and their corporate sponsors extract enough money from viewers during elections without twisting information into useless soundbite snippets. Or is that a feature and not a bug?

  4. Kris Peterson says:

    I can’t stand to watch the debates at the moment but read the first summaries coming out last night from journalists. My Super Tuesday mail-in ballot is sitting at my right elbow waiting to be completed and it’s all too evident how important this year’s presidential election is. The weight of that is heavy even at primary time and I’m growing increasingly impatient with the jockeying.

    • annamadeit says:

      I totally hear you. I can’t vote in the primary, because when I registered to vote (on the day I got my citizenship) I put myself down as an independent. Little did I know that there is an actual party here in Oregon called the Independent Party. I had no idea! Need to change my affiliation – I don’t even really know what they stand for. I never hear a peep from them to it’s easy to forget they exist.

  5. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I can’t comment on the structure of your debates, being in an entirely different country, although I have seen some of them on TV. We have a differently structured political system, but I can say politics has taken a downward turn in Australia as well. I am desperate for some decent leadership, and we have two years to wait for the next election!
    I love your visual analogy with the plant photo, and your teacher’s statement is something to take on board and remember.

  6. annamadeit says:

    Thanks, Jane! Your PM baffled us all with his totally misguided decisions even on this side of the world. I think it’s a global problem… we need to track down and elevate whatever great minds are left out there, and convince them to run for office. That quote is a keeper, for sure. I wasn’t smart enough to think much of it back then, but he was a really, really great teacher, who encouraged reflection and independent thought. I’m grateful I was fortunate enough to be his student. Such teachers are as rare as good politicians, it seems.

  7. I must think on that horseshoe. Thanks Anna

  8. hb says:

    Those so-called debates disgust me: the format and questions are intentionally designed to create the yelling and “circular firing squad”. The corporate networks fail our country very badly with those. The ones hosted by PBS are the best of them.

    Both Vox and the NYT have a series of articles about the POSITIVES of each candidate. I found those more–positive.

    But to a happier thought: what a beautiful mix of greens and shapes in your photo. Spirit lifting.

    • annamadeit says:

      I agree. Sometimes media provide more harm than help. It’s so disheartening. I think they all have positive aspects. I put a sticker on my truck that says ‘THE DEMOCRAT 2020’. My favorite was Buttigieg, but he did the right thing and narrowed the field yesterday – all to ensure the GOP doesn’t have the pleasure of a too divided field. I wish a few more of the ‘lower performers’ would swallow their pride and follow his example. It really IS all about getting rid of Trump – before it’s too late. Oh, and thank you! Gardening helps keep my spirits high, despite the anguish over the news.

  9. Well, since you wrote this things have gotten a lot more settled. My heart leans toward Sanders but my brain says Biden. I agree with most of Sanders’ goals, and I don’t think they are really so radical, but I am disturbed that he doesn’t seem to understand that the Democratic Party is a coalition, which has to be united going into the fall. His approach, and that of too many of his followers, is basically sectarian. Biden is a flawed candidate in many ways, but I think he has a greater understanding of why and how we have to build a majority coalition. Anyhow, my two cents.

  10. annamadeit says:

    OMG Jason – I just had this exact conversation with a couple of friends, about how he is isolating himself from everyone else, and how I’m feeling the exact same way about the two. Whomever gets the nomination is going to have to be extremely calculating in who they pick for a running mate. I keep thinking that, in order to bridge some of the worst divisions, it needs to be not necessarily two aligned politicians, but two with marked differences. As in forcing themselves to have to work together for results, and show the broken world that compromising is still a viable art form. You know, be a shining example for the rest of us. I would love that!

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