Let’s talk microcosm. My phone handily defines this as “a situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger.”
Ready? On Friday, July 23rd there’s an event planned at a local restaurant which glaringly demonstrates how politics is broken. Here are the salient bits:
- Team Hatfield has heard about some relatively obscure ideas (but has not studied them in detail.)
- Team Hatfield—although broadly ignorant about the concepts—decides they hate them. Therefore they associate the ideas with Team McCoy.
- Team McCoy figures they must be good ideas if Team Hatfield hates them (although a sizable part of Team McCoy doesn’t study them much either.)
- Team Hatfield has announced an event to decry these ideas, insisting they are being used to “indoctrinate” people and must be “banned.”
- Team McCoy notes that official documentation already explains that these ideas are not part of policy at all. In fact, administrators are doing the opposite of what Team Hatfield claims.
- Team Hatfield ignores these responses, and further attacks Team McCoy and their support of the ideas.
- Team McCoy circles up, proudly announcing plans to forever boycott the venue for hosting the event.
- Team Hatfield accuses Team McCoy of pettiness.
- Team McCoy notes that the panel members listed on the promotional materials do not have apparent expertise or experience in the topics at hand, and are not representative of the community.
- Both teams rally their supporters into a frenzy of anger and superiority, lobbing insults at each other.
Don’t like Hatfields and McCoys? Fine. Montagues and Capulets. Edisons and Teslas. Republicans and Democrats.
That’s not to say that the two sides are the same, because they aren’t the same. But the pattern of the conflict is the same. It’s one that happens over and over again. And since most people don’t ever study the issues, the only meaningful difference is which side is the Hatfields and which is the McCoys.
I guess we should talk about this particular example. It’s a whole thing about race and schools and gender and parents getting angry and the rut they are being angry about not actually happening…
So you know it. Because it’s the same dumb story. Again. But if you want to come back here tomorrow, we can walk through it together.