Just some musing this morning:
When we talk about "ideology" in politics, we are mostly talking about two poles of thinking: conservative and progressive. In our thinking about these ideologies, we may find ourselves anywhere between the two extremes of these divergent opinions.
To "conserve" something is to try to preserve it, save it, keep it intact. It looks backward, always. It tries to hold onto something "valuable" in the past and keep it alive.
To "progress" is to move forward. The eye is now fixed on some goal, and is looking to tweak or fix something so that it works better in the future.
Which idea is correct?
In Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address, the body language of Congress was conspicuous. Basically, both sides were expressing their agenda. Conservatives lost big-time in 2008, so they are in the bunker until next year when, if they get the numbers they think they will, they will be able to resurrect the legacy of the Bush years, or something like it. So their mentality is to put things off and do nothing if necessary since there is no way they can agree with anybody across the aisle. So they rarely applaud and, when Obama speaks, they look like they are eating lemon skins.
Progressives were enthusiastic, even though many of them are mad at Obama. He reached out to those rascal pinheads across the aisle and see what he got. Who does he think he is? The Great Physician? Come on, Obama. You were hired to lead. Get with the program (or programs, as the case may be).
As I look at this comic/tragedy, I am thinking, "Why aren't they all seated together - mixed?"
Our nation's been polarized for at least two decades. Both elections, George Bush barely squeaked by. I even called it a "miracle" when he was elected the first time, by a "hanging chad." The analysis on TV always shows the red and blue states at loggerheads.
Now the two parties and Congress are fairly unpopular with an electorate that is "fed up." Fed up with what? Mostly with a stagnant economy that went sour. They woke up one morning in 2007 or 2008 and the sky was falling, houses were foreclosing and 401Ks were being read the last rites. So folks are "mad as hell." And so is Congress. The folks on the other side of the aisle are the problem...of course.
But what is this mass of voters out there thinking? Are they hearkening to the baleful songs of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin? Are they ready to pounce on Pelosi and pound her into political hamburger? And what of the young who don't often yet have entrenched political positions? What are they thinking about a government that is handing them a debt to pay when they have no work? It's a frickin' mess.
But the conservatives and the progressives each hold the absolute answer and the twain shall not meet. Obviously. No matter how skilled the rhetoric of bipartisanship that streams from Obama's silver tongue.
Are the two parties a relic of another age - the passing modern age of absolutes and polarization? Is there any way to reconcile the desires of those who want to hold on to the "secure" monuments of the past and those who are willing to risk creating a new future?
I think there is - at least to a point. There'll always be tension between these two poles. But part of the chasm between them is an endless class war that translates, in philosophy, to the capitalist vs. the socialist (or, in Marx-speak, the bourgeoisie vs. the proletariat - the rich guy versus the poor guy). In history, the rich guy always oppresses until the poor guy rises up and overthrows the machine. The barbarian arrives at the gates.
Democracy is more civil. It works out the kinks in the fabric of society through tedious and patient ironing. We have a system that allows all voices to speak, be heard, and have a voice. This results in a rather noisy cacaphony.
In the Hegelian ping-pong that results, the hopeful movement is always progressive while retaining a healthy conservatism. Checks and balances. Why can't it happen now? It is. But it's messy. But it's the best we have until we find something better. We'll get through this.
I tend to think, these days, that the two great political philosophies of the modern age - liberalism and conservatism - can find common ground. I think the twin theories of the industrial age now doing a segue into the digital age - capitalism and socialism - can link arms without destroying either ideal or its benefits. Am I Pollyanna?