A Tale of Two Universes

When you go over to the “other side”, meaning Trump supporter central it’s eerie. I look at the conversations and it looks like a mirror image of the type of discussions I have. It isn’t full of anger or racist messages, but simply full of the same style of criticism, and sarcasm that one would see on my side. People are civil and casual as they discuss what they consider liberal/democratic points of view.  I am not saying that I agree with what they are saying just that it’s like looking in on another world that’s just like ours, but more like the universe in the classic Star Trek episode Mirror, Mirror.

I find this alarming because it means we almost can’t be further apart if you watch the conversation happening on social media.  I hope that social media isn’t a good representation, but if it is, I do understand why many worry about the breakdown in conversation in our society. Even more concerning is the fact that it is very much like looking into a world that is built on fictions. Once the fictions are accepted as true, the rest appears rational and logical. In this way it’s very much like religion in which the unknown premise, that there is a God, is accepted as true a priori and the rest follows.

As much as I pride myself on my analytical skills, knowledge of the scientific method, and ability to think logically, when you see millions of people operating on a totally different set of assumptions it does make you question your sanity. Because it is possible that me and my friends are the ones living in the delusion. So, who has the better grip on reality? Are there elements of truth in both worlds and that we really need to look at a composite of those worlds? Who is qualified to be an arbiter of this? Is there anybody we can trust or believe to look at both sides objectively and determine what is real?

I base much of my morality on the simple idea of cooperation.  We are a social species; we bond with others through reciprocal altruism (i.e. the golden rule) and we survive better because we work together. Which side violates this more?  The problem is a bit of a numbers game. We can easily see how in an 8-person rowing team, one person acting in discord is noticeable. We can that person is certainly not coordinating efforts with others. In a tribe of a few hundred, discord will also stand out likely from a survival standpoint. However, we are millions of people.  We are in discord and this impacts how we function as a nation, but not as a species. A million racists can all work together to solve problems, grow food, and propagate the species just as well as a million people who oppose racism. And what about building bridges to the other side of the political aisle? Is there one side of the aisle who is better at doing that? Right now, I would argue that there isn’t. If kindness is what connects us to people, then we need a lot more kindness that what it seems like what is currently out there, from both sides of the political spectrum. Thus, at an evolutionary level we can determine truth, because the truth is both sides can survive. Perhaps one side is happier than the other, but survival doesn’t have to be happy.

In the end I must look at bigger concepts like empathy, compassion, and humility.  None of these things necessarily make one universe more real than another, but they matter if we are going to someday be a unified human race working to improve the well-being of all life on this planet. If the other universe is the real one, it is one that separates people into groups, it is based in non-existent fears, categorizing and stereotyping groups, and limiting their rights.  It seems to me that they are far too often making the mistake of believing their rights being limited when most of the time it’s just privileges being lost to those people who were previously oppressed and exploited.  If I’m wrong and my reality is illusory, I feel like I’ve at least tried to:

  • see women as equals
  • see race as a social construct
  • appreciate science and how the best tool we have for knowing works
  • try and be mindful of the words we use and the jokes we make because being considerate of feelings are important
  • that learning and growing is important
  • to have a society where we take care of each other better

These values seem good to me. I can’t shake it.  In my understanding of liberalism, that’s the philosophy I see shaping my political values. Conservatism, at least represented by society today does not demonstrate these values.  While I do think it’s important to be cautious and measured in moving forward the very idea that things are great the way they are and never change is ludicrous to me. Change is inevitable. As a species we continue to learn to try to ensure the safety and health of more and more of our people. We’ve fought and died for it. With time I do believe we’ve done a better job of giving more people a chance to flourish and having more people live that would have died a 100 years ago or more. Our story is one of change.

CONSERVATISM QUOTES [PAGE - 4] | A-Z QuotesPerhaps it is human nature for those who fear change to battle those who welcome it. I like to frame that struggle as the battle between comfort and risk.  Both have their merits and perhaps arguing about it is the only way to reach a compromise, to find a way to move us forward where everybody gets to come along.  It seems once again a numbers game. If we were our hunter-gatherer selves, we would all know each other and how many shades of difference in worldview could we have from one another. However, when you’re talking about billions of people the perspectives vary greatly. And even if some of those perspectives are based on fundamentally unsound principles, when it’s all you’ve known it’s hard to even know that the boundaries that shaped your life can be broken at all. But there is some element of truth in everybody’s story and we’ve really got to do a better job of preserving the essence of someone’s lived life that can instruct, that can be beautiful, and/or weep at the tragedy that unfolded on them.

In the end we live in a time of vast inequality with numbers of people living in abject poverty that we can’t even fathom.  But every time we get a glimpse into that well of inequality we all know that there are some on this planet who have more wealth than they can possible spend, while children literally die of starvation. I’ve heard from economists who pay attention to history that capitalism helped raise people out of poverty. I’m not going to dispute that. However, at the risk of sounding cynical, I worry that even though less people (as a percentage of global population) live in abject poverty than in the past, our drive to give people the barest of wealth to get by is not because capitalism cares about people, but because capitalism realized that more people means more labor and more consumers. Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men ...Capitalism was never an ethical system, it is an engine to generate wealth and nothing more. We better come up with answer to what all this wealth is for, because capitalism is moving on without human labor. Automation is coming. More wealth will be generated by corporations and the need for labor decreases. Eventually the system has to collapse in on itself because if people have nothing to do they will not have any money to buy things. The narcissism of greed is our real enemy.  I think there are people on both sides of the aisle who feel they don’t have value and what they do has no value. The people with the money want you to believe that some other group is to blame. Some group who’s just trying to live their life and hope that things stay secure enough so they can raise a family and have a little fun along the way.

I’m trying to be my optimistic self during these times, but it’s a great challenge.  I don’t know the answer to how we can come together, but I do know if we don’t start being a lot kinder to each other it’s never going to happen.

33 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Universes

  1. We can break it down even further because a number of countries have implemented (extremist) right wing theories, so we know how they pan out. 20th century Spain was a testing ground for much of what’s being (re)proposed today by Trump or Bolsonaro. Nationalism, misogyny, racism, union of church and state, status as determined by genetics, shutting out external markets, trade wars — all tried and tested, and all failed miserably as techniques for improving life.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks for the comment. These are great observations. Yuval Noah Harrari says that the nationalism is causing internal strife not struggles between countries. He says when nationalism it’s actually high there are more wars between nations. It makes sense that GOP is more hawkish and looking more for conflicts with other nations to stir nationalism. It’s that your observation?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. GOP “ideology” is mostly derivative of the various Zero Sum Game models promoted historically by those on the right. The backbone of those ideas is competition instead of cooperation. So coming together becomes very difficult if the objective of one side is the opposite of that.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Agreed. That’s part of the reason I included the Roosevelt quote here. Ideally two people might compete but at the end of the day they should be able to go have a beer together, and have mutual respect for each other’s ability. In capitalism however the goal is generally put somebody else out of business by out competing them. I think the competition borders on predatory behavior.

          And it plays into our tribal nature too, because if we reflect, any business we might run has employees it has other people’s whose services we depend on, it depends on government for tax breaks, tax incentives, roads to make your business accessible and so it. One is only really able to compete in capitalism because of the infrastructure that already exists. The pursuit of winning devalues all of that it seems.

          Liked by 4 people

  2. maryplumbago

    Excellent summation.
    But I don’t see how this can change or turnaround. I feel like we are at an impasse. Usually in history, it cycles, but a large event that could bring on an “enlightenment ” will have to be huge and that may be where we are headed.

    And this time around, I believe time is not on our side due to climate change that will be upon us before we know it and change the entire picture.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Mary. I’ll admit that I don’t see the way either. This summation was probably more of a declaration of, I am, who I am, and I don’t see me shedding the core of what I value and so even if it’s a losing fight it seems the side worth fighting for. I guess I would say I plan on nobly going down with the ship. lol

      And you’re very correct. In the same way that we’ve seen COVID expose the cracks in civilization, climate change is going to show those as well, and in a way in which there is no solution like coming up with a vaccine in 2 years, which may seem like an eternity now, but really isn’t very long. There are no quick fixes for climate change.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear you. It’s like watching somebody try real hard but being their own worst enemy. You sort love them for giving it their best shot, but at the same time you also think “get your shit together already”. lol

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Great post, Swarn. Agree with your assessment on the need for something new in this dynamic that is taking place. A huge challenge that I see is clarity of communications. As soon as we convince ourselves there’s really not two (reasonable) sides to the story, we are free to accept/deny the evidence we prefer. And pretty soon everyone is hearing only what they want to hear. The truth, to me, is that there is no objective answer to what the country is, or the world is, and most all of us are making decisions on anecdotes, personal experience, cherry-picked news stories, etc. We think we know how it is. But we only know how it is for us, I think. And the notions we all carry of what is so, and what cannot be, are largely erroneous.

    I don’t know if or how this momentum can be turned around. But it’s certainly important that we try. And kindness seems like it ought to be part of every one’s desirable world… so a good place to start/continue.


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  4. ”it is an engine to generate wealth”. I dispute that. It is an engine to generate money, not wealth. There is a difference. It is often said, “ wheres the money going to come from”? Money is a symbol, it is not wealth, yet we treat it as such. Its very backwards, and the problem is it affects the way people think. There is no reason on earth (and we have the ability) that every single person cannot enjoy a decent, independant income, and it has nothing to do with money. In fact, the shift assigning money as wealth is the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jim! I hope you are well. Thank you for the comment.

      I agree that money is a fiction and far too much the idol that is worshiped in our society. The Bible does have some wisdom. lol

      I don’t think, however, that I am using the term wealth here incorrectly. Even if one considers wealth to be goods that people need, capitalism is better at generating more of them. The fact that we have an economy that uses money as sort of a middle man between what you generate, and what you need to survive is just the evolution of economy. I don’t see how money wouldn’t evolve as it is far more convenient than a barter and trade system that we had prior to that. So if having a pot to cook things is in is essentially, capitalism has been great for making pots. Making them cheaper, more durable, better even heating, etc. If there was no money you can generate yourself a lot of pots and you can trade them with somebody who has potatoes so have something to cook in your pot. Or you can use money as the middle man so you can better say, well my pot is worth 100 potatoes, but I really only need 50 and I can’t sell half a pot. I could take the 100 potatoes and then sell 50 potatoes to someone else for a 50 onions. So I guess I don’t see money and wealth as two different things, but maybe that’s because I accept the fact that money is a fiction. And simply pursuing money for money’s sake, is the same as deciding you’re going to horde any other resource. Greed doesn’t care what wealth you horde.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I can agree with that. But. Haha. When we had the great depression what was there a shortage of? There were no less resources, no less timber, land, ore, or other raw materials to make whatever, etc. There was a shortage shortage of money. The symbol had become more important than the goods. We assign far too much importance to it. But you’re right, and a more balanced form of capitalism or a true free enterprise could solve the problem. But we have people living in the system that are not included in its bounties nor benefit from the wealth of raw materials that create the goods and services. Those benefits go to the highest bidder. This land is your land, yet Kennicot and others of the sort use my land to benefit themselves by way of the permit.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. One of the things I’ve enjoyed learning about in the last few years is behavioral economics. Part of the reason that capitalism doesn’t work in the way proponents of it expects is that people don’t always make decisions based on their economic best interests. Some of the poorest people are often the most generous even when they have little to give. Capitalism is without any ethical grounding and it is thrust upon people who, in general, do cooperate, and give, and want to make sure that those less fortunate can survive. It’s so backwards because in capitalism the people who have the greatest ability to help others do far less than they should and those with the most to lose through generosity, are more generous.

          Liked by 3 people

  5. People are civil and casual as they discuss what they consider liberal/democratic points of view.

    You must be looking at a very different bunch of right-wing blogs than the ones I see.

    The problem is that there is actually no symmetry between the “different worlds”. When one side recognizes the reality of global warming and evolution while the other rejects them, when one judges claims based on evidence and the other judges them based on whether they agree with sacred texts, when one rejects bizarre conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and QAnon while the other embraces them — then those are not just different perspectives. One is congruent with objective reality and the other is not. One is right and the other is wrong. And when the latter group’s attitude is applied to an emergency like the covid-19 pandemic, the result is disaster — for everyone, not just them. The reason the Europeans have handled the pandemic so much better than the US has is that Europe doesn’t have nearly as much of a subculture based on reality-denial.

    And if you think about it, living in Star Trek’s mirror universe would have been pretty nightmarish compared to the “real” universe, too.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree with you Infidel. I don’t mean to say that I agree with what the right believe, all I’m saying is you can have some fairly crazy beliefs but when fully immersed into that fiction the world simply looks different from you and if you are surrounded by others who buy into that fiction, the other side seems as far fetched as you do. Thus the conversations seem rational. They may be posting garbage, but they are talking about it calmly, interspersed with sharing annoying selfies, pictures of kids, etc. There is no question to me that their ideology is demonstrably flawed, but being wrong carries little value if they are unpersuadable and convinced of their reality as we are.

      Kirk’s speech at the end of mirror, mirror sort of echoed the idea that the system in that parallel universe was bound to be self-defeating that it wasn’t logical because of flawed foundation it was built on. Of course it’s only TV and their conversation changed the tides. It would be nice if that could be the case here.

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  6. maryplumbago

    Read a great Sam Harris quote…

    “All we have between us and the total breakdown of civilization are a series of successful conversations.
    We live in perpetual choice between conversation and violence.”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ve had a few different ideas bounce around in my head about this post and I think it’s because I am making it too difficult. I don’t think it has to be. Ultimately, it is “motive” that is driving all of these positions and we are just not going to be able to make any headway without understanding motive. You’ve explained your motive for your positions, empathy, compassion, etc. This reaches out to others, in an attempt to provide not just for yourself, but help for others. I suppose we could argue that this has benefits for the self because we know emotionally it is beneficial but also it helps society run more smoothly, or it should but so few societies run like this anymore so it’s hard to imagine.

    The motivations for different positions need to be understood in order to even begin to come up with a plan for breaking through barriers of communication. Any one conservative could be motivated by keeping their own status in society, or by keeping their ideology intact by forcing others to adhere to it (political and religious often are inseparable). A liberal may have a particular ideology, and the motive behind it is equally important to communication. If you wish to preserve your own way of life, your motivation is going to be egocentric. It’s the egocentric approach that makes communication the main obstacle…because explaining to this person how their position harms others threatens the very motive for their position. I can, as a liberal, say that I agree with universal healthcare. I do so not just for myself but out of a genuine desire to see healthcare available to many. If a conservative hears this, they see how their taxes will be raised and that, to them, threatens what they feel is their own financial security. This is just one facet but a small example nonetheless.

    Capitalism, wealth/money, whatever you want to call it…has always been unethical because the ultimate goal has always been egocentric. It is not designed to benefit society because its goals are only to improve the self, and it will implode precisely because this is an unsustainable position in society. What benefits it has throughout society is only to keep the machine for those who gain the most a little more steam at the expense of the commoner who is just barely keeping their head above water. Everything, absolutely everything wrong right now is because of capitalism. Poverty, global warming, control, has all been about fulfilling goals that feed the self and not society. Even religious organizations with outreach have done so to promote an egocentric agenda.

    The only arbiter of being able to dissect the different sides is the one who can see through the motivations on both. But this doesn’t guarantee the ability to mediate between the two, because the egocentric view is usually one cultivated out of a need for such a degree of power, and crippling fear at the loss of that power, that it may be all they know or understand and they may be incapable of objectively listening because of the pain associated with that fear…like a protection mechanism.

    Uhmm…that was way longer than what I thought was going to be a shorter point, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great comments. I agree that motive is important, but I am not sure how important it is to figure out the motive to make headway. The reason I think this is:

      1) I’m not sure how much people understand their own motives.

      2) I’m not sure how much of the motivation of people is driven by the people they consider authority figures in their life.

      I think what we’re seeing is that people in power greatly understand how to manipulate scores of people.

      I read in Steven Pinker’s book How the Mind Works that emotions are the key to our motivations. That without emotions we wouldn’t be motivated to do anything. I don’t know how entirely true that is, but it at least makes sense to me. The manipulation of people’s emotional state is bound to impact their motivations. So I think it’s fairly clear the motivations of rich and powerful people, and I think it’s clear how they try to manipulate our emotional states. Thus it seems the best way to move forward is not beat people over the head with facts but to find the antidote to anger and fear. And maybe we do that by simply being kind, being peaceful and believing in everyone’s basic humanity. I don’t know that this is possible through social media. Especially since social media seems to drive rage rather than assuage it. It’s again a problem of scale which I don’t see any obvious paths forward. The very tools we have to reach many people, are the ones being used to co-opt people’s emotional state.

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      1. Agreed. In fact, it is the emotional context of the motivation that needs to be understood the most, so I’m with Pinker here. If we are talking about dealing with the people we know in our everyday lives, I think there is the potential for a more positive attempt at a communication breakthrough. I think what I mean is it is important to understand that their motivations can tell us a lot about how vulnerable they may feel and if I remember that, I find it easier to treat them with more humanity than say perhaps reacting to their position with my own emotions. People feel more accepted in this way and may perhaps be more open to hearing opposing views. It is obviously not possible with certain entities, specifically people in the most powerful positions. But on the more basic level it is possible to at least achieve civility in person if people feel seen. I agree, I am not sure how often people understand their own motivations, and I’m pretty sure many to most people don’t, but if I try to, then maybe the experience of feeling seen, which is likely foreign to them, may be something that provides an impact. This is not a conservatives-only problem. Most of us are reacting…and not necessarily trying to understand. That doesn’t mean I think we should tolerate what may be hateful or harmful, but I also know that responding to that with more hate will never produce results.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well said. I think that’s what makes social media such a challenging platform for communication. There is no doubt when face to face that you are dealing with a human, but on social media it’s so easy to feel like you’re not.

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  8. Ryan59479

    My girlfriend and I have been discussing leaving the country permanently because of this exact situation. We don’t want to start a family in this kind of climate. We don’t want to raise children in an environment where hate and greed and ignorance are everywhere and even celebrated.

    Usually when we mention this to friends and family, we’re met with responses that all amount to, “You should stay and try to make it better!”

    I can’t make it better.

    You can’t, no one can. It’s a romantic notion, but an ultimately futile one, because Republicans have no desire to change, and moreover no ability to change.

    I might as well beat my head against a wall.

    I once attended a workshop for my job put on by a clinical psychologist that was all about how to deal with difficult people. His big takeaway was that truly difficult people are not capable of changing; the best we can do is change our response to them.

    This country is just a place. And Republicans are going to continue to make it a regressive wannabe theocracy for as long as they live. So, if I take the psychologist’s advice, what do I do?

    I can’t change the conservative, I can only change my response. And the best response is to remove myself from the situation.

    Why should I let them drag me down to the bottom of the barrel with them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly share your sense of dread Ryan. While it may be true that there are a subset of people here that are unwilling to change, clearly countries do turn it around. Sadly this might come from violent revolution. That’s not everybody’s cup of tea obviously and it’s a fair choice not to make. But somebody has to fight for freedom or else tyranny wins. I don’t think tyranny is our natural governance state, but I do think that since civilization dawned leaders began to have power that far exceeded what was capable in any hunter-gatherer tribe. Our brains aren’t wired for it, and studies show that this power does corrupt no matter how empathetic you started off. There is so much corruption in the U.S. right now it’s difficult to see a peaceful way forward. And a authoritarian U.S. is far more dangerous to its citizens and to others than a tyrannical Guatemala or something. It’s a cause worth fighting for, even if it comes down to violent revolution and even if that battle is not for everyone. I hope it doesn’t come to that. All I know is that I’m very thankful that my wife has EU citizenship and that I have Canadian Citizenship.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ryan59479

        I don’t think it will last forever, certainly, and I’m hopeful it will not take a violent revolution to foment change. I think that all it would take is enough people like me to just walk away.

        The only thing keeping conservatism afloat in this country is the progressive policies enacted by the left. If Republicans were left to their own devices, things would implode pretty quickly.

        I like to think of Kansas as an example. When Sam Brownback was in office they achieved the conservative dream: Republicans controlled all branches of government and they gutted personal income taxes and COMPLETELY eliminated pass through taxes for businesses. And what happened?

        The state crashed and burned into the ground. So hard that Kansas elected a democratic governor to bail them out.

        That’s a repeating theme in our history. But it also says to me that they are capable of learning their lesson, they just have to learn it the hard way. We have to let them absolutely and completely and thoroughly fail, hit rock bottom.

        Take those cities that go full libertarian, like that little one in Texas. They all crash and burn eventually because those principles don’t work.

        So to my mind, leaving is the only way to fix it. Let them have it all, I say, and let them run the whole fucking thing into the ground until they’re all miserable and suffering.

        It’s the only way they’ll ever learn they’re wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You may be right. Two important things to remember though is that when things imploded in Kansas we didn’t have the cult of Trump and the 1984-ish like messages that Trump and his sycophants send out. This is important because it may impacts how much people actually admit that things are imploding or at least slow down the rate in which change happens.

          Also the suffering you talk about will not just happen to the deluded voters, it will happen to children and many other innocent people who played no part in letting this madness go on.

          I mean things are already terrible after 2 years of Republican majority, and 2 years of Trump and a Senate majority. They seem very slow to wake up.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ryan59479

            I don’t relish the thought of anyone suffering, but conservatives seem to only care about things that directly impact their own quality of life. They don’t really care about the suffering of others (at least on a meaningful level. They might intellectually acknowledge it), they only care about their own misery. They have to experience something negative firsthand before considering change. Unfortunately that means a lot of them will probably have to endure self-inflicted social and economic pain.

            But if they can’t or won’t accept any outside help or ideas, what other recourse is there?

            We could try to legislate things, but that only pushes them even more to the right and they dismiss it as “heavy handed government interference.”

            I do think they’ll eventually come around, but they cannot be forced to do it. They can’t be dragged kicking and screaming into a better world. They have to fail into it all on their own.

            *disclaimer: I know that my words don’t describe *every* conservative, but in my experience and observation it describes a preponderance of them.

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            1. I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said. Maybe it’s all inevitable at this point and the only sensible choice is to just let it happen instead of trying to put out a burning house with only a faucet and a teaspoon. I guess in the volunteer work I do with abused children I see the consequences of bad decisions on the innocent and I guess in an Oskar Schindler sort of way, even if I can’t stop the holocaust, maybe it’s still my moral obligation to do what I can. At the very least the decline right now is at a pace where I can still make a difference in a small way, even if it’s just in my county. Even if it’s just with the students I have.

              At the same time I feel the pull of also just circling the wagons around me and my family and going somewhere that’s safer and whose culture provides a more positive nurturing environment to raise children. It’s tough.

              I do think this pandemic has woke some people up. I think it’s no surprise that Texas and Florida have the polls that they do in favor of Biden. These states are being hit hard and as family members die of the virus the rest of the family is starting to clue in to the fact that not only was he lying about the virus, he was also lying about everything else. The democrats may not win Texas but the fact that it almost appears to be a swing state suddenly is telling. But I agree that it also supports your point. Unless they experience the negative consequences of conservative policy first hand, they won’t understand its flaws.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Ryan59479

              The good thing about 2016 was that Trump’s victory in the EC was razor thin. Only like 100k people spread out over three states. And at this point Biden seems to be polling significantly higher in those “blue wall states” in the midwest that defected last election.

              It seems quite possible this election that Trump is headed for a landslide defeat for two reasons:

              1) there are probably more pissed off democrats than enthusiastic Republicans in a lot of swing states. The democratic hatred of Trump outweighs the Republican love for him. We saw that in 2018’s midterms.

              2) Hillary Clinton isnt on the ballot. There are probably a statistically important amount of people out there who only voted for Trump as a way to vote against Clinton. Some of those people might vote for Biden since they weren’t necessarily team Trump in the first place.

              Now, do I think it’s possible for Trump to win? Of course. Things could change in next 4 months. But what worries me most is the Republican effort to suppress voting. That is their hail mary play as polls and support tank.

              I think this private police force isn’t necessarily a play for martial law, but it’s an exercise for November, where they’ll be deployed to swing states to “quell unrest,” AKA prevent democrats from voting.

              Democrats would be wise to use their resources to encourage and support voters to request mail in ballots.


  9. I absolutely hate to disagree with F.D.R. But competition is what we do with people outside of our “in group.” Cooperation and collaboration is what we do to people inside of our “in group.”

    Can you imagine having your kids compete as to how well they did in school any day and the winner gets to eat dinner and the others don’t? Does anyone treat their kids in such a way?

    What we need to do is exactly the opposite of what we are doing now. We need to include more people in our “in group.” We have slid back from where we were and hadn’t gotten to the point of all Americans being in our “in group” with Trump and his cronies doing everything possible to divide us into more and more groups, all of which at odds with the others.


    1. I don’t know. I had friends in school that I would compete with but were also part of my group. I wouldn’t begrudge their scores or anything, but it was always a bit of pride to beat some of my friends who were smarter than me. I do think there is such a thing as healthy competition.

      But what you’re describing is obviously different, and I don’t disagree. The way rewards are set up for competition in a capitalist framework is wholly unfair. Perhaps the better way to look at is like this:

      I probably did better at school than I would have if it wasn’t for having friends who challenged me to become better. So while there was a bit of competition on math and physics tests, even if I did better they didn’t suddenly go bankrupt and have to drop out of school. The losers in capitalism are just as valuable in that they push other business harder they help us learn best practices. They should be considered losers, they should be considered as part of society and helping to drive the whole train forward. Competition thus is healthy as a whole and the wealth that is generated is for the benefit of society. As we compete we are also cooperating.

      The division that the GOP and Trump are offering go beyond just competition in the marketplace. That kind of divisiveness is deadly and can lead to escalated violence if we don’t figure out how to come together.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Very relevant post here and the current political situation in America certainly doesn’t help. I don’t identify with any political party and it can be exhausting seeing or hearing so many arguments going on. It’s no wonder I just stick with blogging as opposed to getting on the usual social media suspects. Out of curiosity, do you believe in the horseshoe effect? It sorts of sounds like it with the mirror universe analogy, but I just wanted to be sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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