Political arguments quickly prove tiresome because original thought is so rare. Why invite people to bash you over the head with a bag of cliches? After hearing "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!"
the first 238 times, I ran out of fresh responses -- and that was back in 1987. Hell, I'm even annoyed by my own
bag of cliches, by the phrases which express my deepest political convictions.
As some French dude -- or was it some Russian dude
? -- once put it: Astonish me!
(Or has that phrase itself become inexcusably familiar? Well, I'm not surprised.)
In everyday English parlance, most cliches butt up against an equal and opposite cliche: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" meets "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." This page
contains numerous examples of contradictory cliches.
In the political realm, these contradictions are both common and unnoticed. Take, for example, this USA Today story
about the rising number of independent voters. Scan the reader comments -- which, inevitably, are filled with cliches. I draw your attention to two.Cliche 1: (Concerning the two major parties)
"To obtain a majority, each must appeal to their respective extremes. From the extremes there is no way to compromise... In the middle, there is the possibility of compromise. 'Left' and 'right' cannot compromise."Cliche 2:
"The R's and D's are the fundraising wings of the same vulture. They have shared power for 150 years and are equally responsible for arriving at this point in governmental history."
Am I the first person to notice that these two oft-heard sentiments are in direct opposition? Either the two parties are extreme and irreconcilable, or they are as alike as makes no difference. You can't have it both ways.
(Yes, I know that "you can't have it both ways" is a cliche. I don't care.)
What bothers me is not that people resort to familiar thoughts and phrases. Human beings do that. We're not as astonishing as we like to think.
What bothers me is that the same person can nod his head in agreement when he hears cliche 1 and
Political concepts are not Schroedinger's cat. You can't say X
and then say not-X
. If people can think two contradictory thoughts at the same time, then when Adam and Eve (or Adam and Steve) stand before the Justice of the Peace, what do they really mean when they say "I do"?