A post like this should begin with a clear articulation of who you are and what kind of bias you’re bringing to the discussion.
So let me put it out there, briefly: Libertarian; MAGA; civil servant. (Of course, all opinions are my own…yada, yada, yada.)
I vocally support President Trump online, which frequently leads to responses like this:
“TRUMP MUST GO.” (Facebook)
“How far does he have to go until u say enough is enough? Hes a sexist, lying, transphobic, anti Muslim idiot. WHAT MORE EVIDENCE DO YOU NEED.” (Twitter)Do I have to agree with every single thing that other people post? Do they have to agree with me? Of course not.
The free and open exchange of ideas is what made America great in the first place. And attempts to take away that freedom of speech — which regularly occur in every organized group known to humankind — never end well.
In a healthy society, robust debate promotes advancement in every respect. So we need more than just stressed-out tolerance; we actually need to elicit opposing views.
Sometimes I visit 4Chan, Reddit and Voat. The conversations going on there are incredible. Hordes of anonymous users contributing content, weeding out fake news and disinformation, a gigantic colony of ants ferreting out any possible nugget of data or insight.
Social media, in its purest form, creates an entity larger than itself. Not the “hive mind,” which implies the death of individual liberty. But it does represent the “integrated mind” of a culture, one which can absorb but not drown its wildly divergent parts.
But what of the civil servant in all of this? Where do they stand in any diagram of the relationship between elected officials and the public?
Put simply, the two are yin and yang. Although I think we tend to forget that.
The politician is there (theoretically, at least) to get results for the people. All the people, not just the ones who elected them.
The civil servant is there (also theoretically) to carry out the functions of the government agency in which they serve, be it federal, state or local.
Yes, the real world makes mincemeat of our ideals.
But even in a perfect one, the politician and the civil servant will never see things the same way. Not at all.
What’s more, they aren’t supposed to.
There is an intended tension between the group elected to “make transformational change” (of whatever kind) and the group hired to keep the transformational change agents from blowing everyone up in the process.
And I think, at some point, all of us have forgotten that.
Because (and at what point this happened I’m not sure) the politicians seem to have decided to simply work around the civil servants as much as possible.
While the civil servants seem to have decided that they know better than the President. And that the administrative, unelected state is a somehow a legitimate entity in its own right.
Both sides, I think, have gone off the rails.
As a rule, extremism is never good.
It pits people against each other unnecessarily.
It distracts us from our common goals.
And it stops us from fighting our true common enemy, corruption — the carbon monoxide of democracy.
Posted on July 27, 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. The content of this post is hereby released into the public domain. Photo credit: congerdesign/Pixabay (public domain).