The result is that we create an ethos whereby people cannot see reality beyond the prisms of their own tightly-held beliefs. Unfortunately for most of us, we adopt a yin-yang perspective of reality that forces most of us to believe that the only two life forms in the known universe are political and social conservatives and liberals. In rarer but equally unrealistic instances, some of us go along with a multi-polar perspective of socio-political issues; we align ourselves with Libertarians, Federalists, Green- and Tea Partiers, etc. What happens is that adherents of a particular socio-political bent create a rubric in their minds of how things should be, and form their perceptions of reality around their beliefs, as opposed to allowing reality to form their perceptions. In simple terms, it’s simply hard for most people to see or think past either their emotions or their ideological beliefs; we all want to be right all the time, even though deep down we know we simply cannot be.
The situation is somewhat analogous in both function and properties to adhering to a particular religious belief system. Believers believe unquestionably that their particular belief is the One Great Truth while others are simply “wrong” or even “stupid” for embracing their beliefs. In the world of political and social ideology, the tactics—for want of a better term—that are often used to get one particular group of ideological loyalists to look better than those who hold opposing beliefs are often purposefully misleading. It’s pretty hard to ignore the example provided by last week’s Tea Party convention in Nashville.
During the Tea Party’s convention, former vice-presidential turned Republican activist Sarah Palin criticized the Obama Administration’s decision to charge the Nigerian suspect in the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an airplane in Detroit under federal criminal statues as opposed to treating the terror suspect as an “enemy combatant,” which according to the former Alaskan governor “puts the country at grave risk.” In Palin’s words,
that's not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this. They know we're
at war, and to win that war we need a commander in chief and not a professor
of law standing at the lectern.
But oddly enough, Richard Reed, the would-be “shoe-bomber” who similarly attempted to ignite a bomb on an in-flight airplane over the Atlantic Ocean back in 2001 was ultimately charged under federal law for that act of attempted terrorism. In fact, in spite of the high profile cases of terrorists and would-be terrorists captured during President Bush’s two terms, just as many of them were charged under federal criminal statues as under the current Obama Administration’s policies; reality is perceived quite differently when you take away the political spin.
In addition, the propensity to either view and/or maintain the integrity of one’s particular socio-political ideology over observing reality in terms of objectivity tends to create more double standards in policy and practice. Take last month’s racially insensitive remarks by Democratic Senator Harry Reid in regards to President Obama’s election. About the ultimate Democratic nomination of then-candidate Obama,
"He [Reid] was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' "
Most Democratic and traditional Civil Rights leaders, although momentarily but lightly admonishing Reid for his insensitivity, treated the episode as a simple faux paux made during a less-than-candid moment in the senator’s professional life. But conservatives who have often made equally sensitive remarks have been called to the proverbial carpet for engaging in the same actions, with some instances resulting in harsh censorship or even expulsion from a coveted position of power (remember Texas Congressman Trent Lott?). Now granted, conservatives in the Republican Party are more vulnerable to this double standard given the lack of as many high-profile minority members active within the Party, which contributes to the perception of the Republicans as an “all (or mostly) ‘white’” political party. However, this example reveals that liberals are far more willing to overlook instances of racial insensitivity within their ranks than conservatives or other political groups (and it should be noted however that I do not include racially controversial remarks made by media shills for conservative principles, since individuals like Glenn Beck of Fox News and syndicated conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh rountinely make offensive and/or insensitive remarks as media stunts to inflate their ratings).
As for my dedication to viewing reality through an objective lens, its has cost me personally in terms of the loss of subscribers to my blog, as well as not having received a paid position as a regular writer for an online magazine (which I choose not to name), all because I refuse to be a part of the insanity of ideological partisanship. My belief is that no particular ideological school of thought has a monopoly on truth and facts.
As I conclude my thoughts, I am reminded of the philosophies of the legendary martial artist and philosopher Bruce Lee, who said that in order to be a master, one’s mind (and body) must be like water. In order to see truth, and peceive the reality of things one’s mind and thoughts muct be willing to move over, under, and around obstacles (to thinking). And perhaps no larger obstacles impede our ability to ascertain what is really happing around us than our own beliefs and emotions. As someone once told me, “don’t believe everything you think.”