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tweedledee tweedledum

by devnym

That particularly  American and seemingly intractable conflict  between liberties and rights—a zero sum game with one directly  proportional to the other—needs  to be set aside. In  a shrinking world  where others are  gaining on us at an  alarming rate, we  need to recognize  that what we have,  what the founders  gave us, far outweighs anything  we are squabbling  about.  - By Eleanor Tomlinson 

Modern politics resembles less the nostalgic concoctions of yesteryear and more a  trip down the rabbit hole. The overarching  black-and-whites are clearly defined (evil,  tyrannical, guillotining Queen of Hearts:  bad. Benevolent and beautiful, slightly  quirky, solidly moral White Queen: good).  But the details that compose the reality of  laws and policies are always changing. Or  they’re never what they seem. Or both. 

The ideal political state of affairs in America is indefinable and enigmatic. Yet everybody  seems to think they know exactly what’s  going on, whether they assert that the Public Option is necessary, or that ethnic profiling is okay in Arizona, or that the roses must  be red. How many political decisions are  reached by misconstruing a basic demo cratic tenet? Making broad generalizations  about “what’s best” drives most sane people to do crazy things. And in the middle of it all is Alice—the increasingly youthful  and ever more confused American Public,  attempting to figure out what the hell is going on, and trying desperately to keep from  losing her head. 

We’ve got Tweedledee and Tweedledum,  born of the same mother but always ready  to pick a fight, bearing a striking resemblance to Democrats and the GOP. The polarization of modern party politics seems  to stem from a heretical interpretation of  the original bi-partisanship, and an eager  readiness on both sides to argue at every  possible moment. But how much of the  information spouted by party mouthpieces  is aimed at actually reaching the best possible outcome for all American citizens,  and not just provoking and prolonging this  sibling rivalry? It doesn’t help that the rapid  globalization and the ever watchful eyes of  the internet are making the world smaller  and smaller and dangerously misinterpreted, triggering a domestic xenophobia  of outrageous proportions. Coastal metropolitans eye the South and the Midwest as  strange and slow. The breadbasket, unaccustomed to the exposure that is so easily  navigated by the denizens of New York and  LA, warily resists the quickening cadence  of change. Socioeconomic history has  predetermined those roles, but where did  all the distrust come from? Nationwide, we  all fear what we don’t understand, but no  amount of pinching will wake us up from  this Wonderland, so we’ve just got to figure out what to do. 

American politics is a storybook full of interesting notions, not least of all Liberty  and Equality. But as noble as these ideas  are, they seem to be the source of national discontent. Whenever someone exercises a so-called Liberty, it is ever more  likely that someone else will send up a cry  about the loss of Equality. And though it seems inevitable that one person’s rights  will sometimes lead to the infringement  of another’s, there’s no easy fix. However,  the nation itself exists on these contradictory tenets, and in order to endure, we have  to figure out how to make it work. It’s too  easy to quote Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a resounding proclamation that both Liberty and Equality demand their place in  America, maintained through a “new birth  of freedom,” which invoked the role of the  people in the grand American government. We learned then that the uncommunicative  division of the nation is not an option. And  today, the fight to maintain both Liberty and  Equality requires interplay of political ideas. 

“Eat Me,” said the cake that made Alice  grow large, and maybe big government is  the way to go—creating nationwide policies  that affect a sweeping spectrum of people  with powerful all-encompassing objectives.  But Alice also had to think small in order to get  through the door into Wonderland, shrinking herself with the tonic that said “Drink  Me.” (Don’t worry, die-hard Democrats.  She checked before drinking to make sure  it wasn’t poison.) Perhaps, while certain issues demand comprehensive government  policy, other issues are better resolved  within the nuances of smaller government.  Is it so hard to acknowledge the benefits  of both perspectives, or recognize that the  give and take between the two fosters true  progress and change? 

Wandering through our Wonderland government, the media always seems to appear; the smiley Cheshire cat that won’t stop  talking, but doesn’t seem to say too much.  Sometimes, we get the right message. But  sometimes, it’s all wrong. We might stumble  upon a caterpillar, high as a kite, who’s happy as long as he’s got access to his exotic  medication. Or we’ll find ourselves trying to  understand topsy-turvy tea-party politics;  they may seem mad, but they sure are loyal. The Bandersnatch is full of teeth and fury, a true radical—but maybe he’s just a little  misunderstood. Maybe he can be an asset,  when given a good purpose?

Nothing is ever what it seems to be in Wonderland, but sometimes the truth is clear  as day. Abandoning the ridiculous notions  of painting the roses red, or unanswerable  riddles querying ravens and writing desks,  the enduring constant is that everyone has  a role to play. Everyone has a point of view  that is applicable in some way. Maybe pro claiming an isolated precept, proselytizing  and pointing fingers, is not the way to go.  After all, it’s not until Alice finally recognizes  the value in each of the crazy creatures  she encounters, that she can get down the  business of beheading the Jabberwocky. 

But that’s a story for another time. 

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