We, as Americans, cherish the freedom and right to disagree—which we do, often deeply about important issues that need resolution. But polarization undermines that freedom by tightening prejudices rather than opening thought, thus diminishing the chances for finding resolutions and moving forward. So while polarization may feel like a righteous champion of freedom and right, it is in fact just the opposite—a stick jammed in the spokes of the democratic discourse of freedom. Here are some of the common ways it does it:
- SEDUCES with loaded, heated language and childish name-calling that appeals more to emotion that reason.
- BLINKERS by using cherry-picked facts, and ignoring or mocking opposing arguments and evidence rather than actually addressing them.
- TRIVIALIZES by focusing on “straw-man” issues whose value in re-enforcing biases is clearly greater than their substance.
- BULLIES by making you feel like a dupe or a traitor if you even listen to the other side.
- FLATTERS with language and a tone that makes you feel like an insider, who, of course, agrees with them because you “get it” … just like they do.
- FRIGHTENS by portraying the other side as not just wrong, but a dangerous, evil enemy, replete with wicked hidden agendas.
- “CLANS,” that is, plays the “us vs. them” identity politics game of associating the other view with groups or people (implicitly) “inferior” to “us.”
- “TRIBES” by using the knowing winks and nods of sarcasm, coded language, words in quotes (suggesting they’re misleading) and innuendo which you, as a member of the tribe, of course, will understand without explanation or justification.
This week…the polarizers are off to a pathetically good start, filled with predictions of how the “other side” will single-handedly ruin America because “they” are liars, hypocrites, frauds and more. Assuming, for a moment, the idea of false equivalency, it may just be that screaming back in kind is not the best way to win the argument. As we enter what will undoubtedly be one of the most rancorous presidential election seasons in memory, perhaps some other tactics will be explored. Of course it just may be that thinking and listening really don’t work anymore. But then where are we?
When reading these examples, check the above list and ask yourself: regardless of whether you agree or disagree, is this really advancing an intelligent resolution through the persuasive, rational arguments of advocacy…or simply fueling the fire of conflict through the divisive, emotional manipulations of polarization?
Here are just a few of the blue and red polarizing headlines from the past week.
Trump Presidency Reveals The GOP’s Craven Opportunism
Conservatives rage over report that finds toxic masculinity is bad for men’s health
The hypocrisy of the GOP lawmakers allowing Trump’s shutdown to continue
The crisis is Trump. The national emergency is the threat to our democracy
Rudy Giuliani Continues His Pathetic Whining
As Republicans Fall Apart Over Shutdown, Trump Screams Fake News
Who’s the bigger liar, Trump or McConnell?
Trump’s televised address will only further his big lie — everybody knows it
The Left Will Make 2019 a Dark Year
Leftists Want Their Opponents Silenced Or Dead
Liberal Liars Twist America’s Narrative
The American Left Is Pushing For Violent Civil War… And Might Get It
President Trump Has Totally Exposed Democrats As The Frauds They Are
Why 2020 Will Fracture The Democratic Party
Democrats are battling to see who is the most radically left
The Price Democrats Will Pay for Their Unreasoned Hatred