Chattanooga Times Free Press - - OPINION -

Last week I hap­pened upon a so­cial me­dia con­ver­sa­tion that got me won­der­ing how much any­one cares about the nuances sep­a­rat­ing the var­i­ous camps on the other side of the ide­o­log­i­cal di­vide.

The con­ver­sa­tion was framed around a pic­ture of a col­lec­tion of Amer­ica’s latenight, funny guy talk show hosts. There were 10 of them, be­decked in nicely tai­lored suits, sip­ping cock­tails and smil­ing for the cam­era. I’m not sure where the pic­ture orig­i­nated, but it def­i­nitely had a GQ feel to it.

The full ros­ter in­cluded Stephen Col­bert, Co­nan O’Brien, James Cor­den, Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kim­mel, John Oliver, Larry Wil­more, Bill Ma­her, Seth Mey­ers and Jimmy Fal­lon.

Here’s the ver­biage cou­pled with that Twit­ter pic­ture:

Ev­ery per­son in this photo:

› same po­lit­i­cal party

› en­dorsed same can­di­date

› same stance on ev­ery is­sue Ladies and gen­tle­men, “com­edy.” As I’m writ­ing this col­umn, that tweet has been retweeted (that means “shared” for those un­fa­mil­iar with Twit­ter speak) more than 15,900 times.

It was one of those many retweets that in­tro­duced the post to my eye­balls. I laughed when I saw it, be­cause at first blush it of­fered a per­fect vis­ual for the po­lit­i­cal slant of Amer­ica’s comedic land­scape.

The per­son whose retweet brought that pic­ture into my own feed is a well­known Repub­li­can in this area. He added, “Haha, good point,” to the orig­i­nal post. In re­sponse, a long time lo­cal Demo­cratic op­er­a­tive re­sponded, “No, it’s not,” and noted “they all have wildly dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal views.”

OK, I’ll stop there with the blow-by­blow Twit­ter con­ver­sa­tion. But my first re­ac­tion to the Demo­cratic re­but­tal was some­thing akin to “yeah, right.” Pos­si­bly, that’s due to the use of the word “wildly.” And though that ad­verb seemed over the top to me, the over­ar­ch­ing point is what got me pon­der­ing the ti­tle of this piece: Do ide­o­log­i­cal nuances mat­ter?

Adding this qual­i­fier: to any­one on the other side of the po­lit­i­cal aisle.

I’d ar­gue those nuances most cer­tainly mat­ter to the var­i­ous camps co­ex­ist­ing on the same side of the di­vide. Just ask the free-spend­ing, big-gov­ern­ment House Repub­li­cans their thoughts on the mat­ter the next time they’re hav­ing to deal with mem­bers of the House Free­dom Cau­cus on a piece of leg­is­la­tion.

Yet, if you’re on the left, there’s a good chance that you lump all con­ser­va­tive-lean­ing folks to­gether … and vice versa, of course.

In think­ing on this, I’m tempted to as­sume this is the case thanks to our long-en­trenched — and fed­er­ally sub­si­dized — ma­jor party du­op­oly. Be­cause no mat­ter the dif­fer­ences be­tween the camps on each side of the po­lit­i­cal chasm, most of us re­sort to an us-ver­sus-them tribal com­mit­ment when push comes to shove.

That’s how free-mar­ket, anti-war lib­er­tar­i­ans end up cast­ing bal­lots with em­pire-build­ing, crony-cap­i­tal­ist mod­er­ates. Odd bed­fel­lows, no doubt.

That’s also how I can look at a pic­ture of 10 dandies in dap­per suits and im­me­di­ately think they’re all the same, ide­o­log­i­cally speak­ing, when in re­al­ity there’s prob­a­bly quite a bit dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing the world­views of Bill Ma­her and Jimmy Fal­lon.

The up­shot of all this is that in cat­tle-herd­ing most Amer­i­cans into two cor­rals, we strip each other of any unique value. We dumb down in­tri­cate con­ver­sa­tions, and we flat­ten de­bate. Worse, we pri­or­i­tize al­le­giance to party over an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of ideals and in­di­vid­u­al­ism.

There is noth­ing lazier or more in­tel­lec­tu­ally dam­ag­ing than liv­ing in a ze­ro­sum, black-and-white world.

It would be a worth­while ex­er­cise to ex­plore ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences, not just on our own side, but also across the di­vide. Yes, be­cause ide­o­log­i­cal nuances do mat­ter. And we’d be do­ing our­selves a fa­vor to un­der­stand them bet­ter, as well as the peo­ple who main­tain them.

Con­tact David Allen Martin at davi­dal­len­ and fol­low him on Twit­ter @DMart423.

David Martin

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.