In Greek mythology, it’s called a hydra. A horrid, serpentine monster with multiple heads and a fatally poisonous bite. The only way to kill a hydra was to cut off the right head. If you cut off the wrong head, that head would instantly grow back, unless you cauterized the stump. According to some versions, it was always possible that more than one head would spring forth to replace the severed one.
Heracles must’ve been one nimble fellow to avoid all those false, but still oh-so-deadly heads while he searched with his sword for that one crucial, life-giving head. As the story goes, he diligently cut off each head, one by one, cauterizing each stump with fire until he found the last head, which he promptly lopped off and buried under a rock.
I’d like to speak figuratively of a modern-day hydra. We’ll dub it the Two-Party Hydra.
I’ve been asked many times whether I’m a Republican or a Democrat, and the fact of the matter is that I’m neither. But no one really believes that. In fact, most folks never even ask me which political flavor I prefer. They hear my views on abortion or school vouchers or the like and I’m automatically branded either Republican or Democrat. I’m categorized and labelled in knee-jerk fashion as one or the other and no one so much as asks my opinion. Might I not be a supporter of the Reform party or Green party, or [Media forbid!] an unaffiliated Independent? Yet alternatives to the divine political dichotomy are never even considered. Worse still, I’m presumed to also endorse wholesale [without any thought nor hint of misgivings or reservations] the entire given platform of the party I’ve been labeled as.
I’m now a card-carrying member of One of Them. The enemy, the Axis of Evil, Lost’s pernicious Others. Godless, Left-wing, Communist, flag-burning, don’t-blame-me-I-voted-for-the-other-guy, tree-hugging Christophobic liberals. A member of the war-mongering, big-business-loving, flag-waving, environment-destroying homophobic member of the vast Right-wing conspiracy. [Note: If these conspiracies are so vast, are they vast enough to constitute the majority will of We, the People?]
Or I’m one of the good guys, fighting against the mindless tyranny of the opposition. Until I open my mouth and speak something unorthodox. Because it’s us against them, all or nothing. They want America and we dare not let them have it. Those who don’t toe the party line are only a step away from beginning an unstoppable landslide that will wipe away the American way. Dissenters are laying the axe to the root of liberty, each heterodox viewpoint a cutting blow. It’s OK to side-step the system of checks and balances established in our Constitution and legislate from the judicial bench; this is war, after all, and for the better good. It’s OK to promote the interests of the party over the interests of national defense or public welfare; it’s an election year! The Enemy does not sleep! We can afford to represent the will of John Q. Public after we’ve informed him what his opinion is and after we’ve vanquished the foe.
Or so the media tells us we ought to think. And it doesn’t really matter who you watch or what you read: ABC, FOX, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times— They’re all biased one way or the other. No one presents issues impartially any more. The line between the clear presentation of facts and editorialization has been blurred beyond recognition. It’s painted in terms of Civil War. We’ve replaced the Blue and the Grey for the Blue and the Red. The Heartland Bible Belters versus the Big City Humanists. They even have colorful maps, teams of talking heads and scads of polls to drive the point home. We take in their soundbites and rhetoric and then, based on our own preferences and presuppositions, flock to the source that most closely resembles our worldview [read: feeds our conspiracy theories]. We’re guilty of Metalicca’s cynical accusation: “Hearing only what you wanna hear / And knowing only what you’ve heard.” It’s a popularity contest. Dems versus Republicans. Conservatives against liberals. Red versus Blue. Us against them. A Nation Divided.
But nobody else is allowed to play their reindeer games. If you’re not a Democrat or a Republican, you’re not a serious player. Greens, Reformed, nor any form of Independent need apply at publicly-televised debates. The Two-Party system knows that too many choices makes the public harder to control. Better to keep them preoccupied with two black and white choices. Simplifying the choice and generalizing the issues makes the public more manageable and that, my friend, is the current goal of government.
We no longer elect candidates; we elect party representatives. We elect professional politicians born of political dynasties and educated for this sole task. We elect a member of one of two powerful parties who are more likely to vote the Will of the Party than the Will of the People. Your voice is silenced, but you cheer them on, fully convinced by clever media blurbs of the righteousness of your chosen avatar.
But the media is only the beneficiary of the social engineering of the groupthink factories we commonly refer to as public schools. Schools have stopped teaching the critical thinking skills and distinctly patriotic, civic-minded American history lessons that make up the core of the American individual. They have demonized the Judeo-Christian religion whose tenets and values form the basis of our society and its “self-evident” and Deity-“endowed” rights and liberties. They have vilified our Great Nation’s history and left our children with the idea that they should be ashamed to be called an American. Instead, they are told to embrace multiculturalism. People from other nations and cultures are flocking to America, the Land of Liberty and Opportunity. Foreigners recognize America for the priceless gem it is, while public schools try to convince our children that its only plastic! They concentrate on a vast host of non-academic nonsense, like radical sex education, social engineering [read: tolerance and multiculturalism], crowd control, environmentalism and yet more raises, at the dictation of the NEA [which organization supposes they are a branch of government from they way they carry on.]
There’s simply no time left for education, which explains the concept of homework. We pay the teachers to educate and they foist part of the work onto the parents. I am not anti-teacher, but if teachers want more pay, I should like to see more results. We live in a capitalist environment, after all. Let’s pay our teachers at a rate commensurate with their ability to produce well-rounded, independent, civics-minded Americans! Schools have only managed to improve SAT scores by lowering [they call it “re-centering”] the standards. Everything is taught to the lowest common denominator. Everything is taught at a ridiculously mediocre pace, so that genuinely gifted students have long ago lost interests by the end of the grading period. And since public schools have lowered educational standards [and raised teacher salaries!] and concentrated more on social engineering, we now have citizens [voters!] who have been taught groupthink instead of critical thinking. So they accept whatever shallow, biased views the media presents to them. And whoever shouts the loudest and does so in the most appealing way wins! Since we’ve lost the ability to think critically, the choices have to be simplified. Since we’re not complete idiots, the choices presented must be able to rally the troops and convince them of the evilness of the opposite choice, yet keeping the issues so generalized as to be harmless. And who benefits?
The Two-Party Hydra. The Republican-Democrat political monster that clogs our representative government.
I rightly name them as such, for they are the same beast really. They need each other to stay in power, though if either party grew powerful enough I’d wager they’d attempt to eradicate the other if for no other reason than that they now believe their own rhetoric. They are not powerful enough to do any great damage to their counterpart. As much as they fight to keep their opponent from taking the temporary advantage, they especially and jointly see to it that any new players never get big enough to pose a serious threat to their dual powerbase.
So long as we play the game.
Like Heracles, we can defeat this Two-Party monster. We have merely to lop off its true head. That head might be called groupthink or shallowthink, as it has been variously dubbed. It controls the hydra and it controls you. But if you use the head God gave you, it does not have to be so. Begin to think critically. Biased media cannot long survive under the scrutiny of thinking individuals. Nor can party politics show contempt for the will of the people for long when men think reasonably and independently. Neither can thinking men abide the shallow farce of “education” that permeates our schools through lack of capitalist competition and lack of accountability.
But be warned, the hydra will not go easily. You must be resolute and diligent. But we can bring back American individualism, one hydra head at a time.
From someone without a chip in his brain,