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Going Outside the System

I’m often torn between two of my opinions, which appear to be opposed to each other: The current political system is broken, divided by partisanship that makes scoring points against one’s opponent more important than governing in the right way and with both political parties being suborned by the massive influx of money from lobbyists and campaign donors. At the same time, efforts to produce change by going outside the system, either by supporting candidates and platforms from outside the two major parties or taking to the streets to protest or champion particular issues, has limited effect on government policies.

The majority of people who, regardless of their pessimism about the efficacy or even the ethics of our politicians, either within the government or those trying to become elected to it, still see participation in the political process as the only real way to affect the system, find themselves falling into partisan camps, as they see such participation as a process of choosing between their side’s positions or those of their opponents. Once one is committed to working within the system, it seems as if one is limited to listening to both sides (and more and more it is listening to only one side) and choosing the position that is most appealing and then promoting it (and criticizing its opposite). So, if one is a liberal or a conservative, one must be for or against NAFTA and TPP, for or against condemning Russia and its interference in our elections, for or against Obamacare, for or against government regulation, for or against immigration, etc.

Issues about trade, foreign policy, healthcare, government regulation and immigration are much more complex than the positions of any of our politicians or political parties portray them. The way forward that will benefit our citizens, our nation and the world is complicated, affected by both local and global circumstances, and constantly changing as a result of progress in communication and technology, not to mention, the emergence of new international powers, such as China and India, on the world scene, which alters alliances and power among nations.

Much of the time I feel that what happens in the power centers of our government—in congress and the administration and in our agencies—is something I am just watching from the outside and produces policies that are woefully short of or even against common sense solutions to our problems. This is truer for me when Republicans are in power, but almost as true when Democrats are in power. At the same time, when I look at the positions and activities of those who agitate from outside the system, I find them either committed to ideologies that channel every perception through the same narrow lenses, distorting reality to the same extent that the political parties do, or committed to non-participation in the system to such an extent that they either approve of activities that destroy rights such as free speech or employ violence, or embrace a non-mainstream candidate who, in fact, has views and promotes some policies they would have an equal problem with if they were implemented.

Americans—and probably people all over the world—feel better when they belong to a group and are willing to violate their own good sense in order to agree with those with whom they identify. Social psychology has shown this over and over. Doing so leaves those who lead such groups and speak to the group mentality, with inordinate power. Individuals who are fed up with the “system” because it makes poor and often unethical decisions, must work extremely hard to find ways to find the reality behind the rhetoric being put forward by those within the system—and also those who attack the system from points of view that are so ideologically committed that they distort reality to the same degree. This is work. This means examining one’s own prejudices and resisting the urge to fall into line with others’ opinions so that one can be rewarded with “likes,” praise, and followers. But if one does all this work and believes that he or she sees reality as it really (insert probably) is, what do they do with that perception or opinion. 

Working outside the system means finding ways to communicate what you believe is correct or at least unbiased, to as many people as you can, and helping to work with those who will listen, to determine what actions those perceptions or opinions should lead to and how to get the country to respond by taking those actions. This may mean working with the system or without it, depending on a myriad of factors. It may mean finding the action that has the best chance of moving the country even a little bit in the direction you believe is right or preventing the country from moving in the opposite direction (i.e. the “lesser of two evils”). If one is honest with him or her self it should be clear that one needs to work as hard as possible to see things clearly and as hard as possible to obtain solutions based upon one’s viewpoint. This may mean working within the system or outside of it—sometimes one and sometimes the other.  

Reader Comments (7)

Given the present state of the nation, my considered opinion is that we need to work within the system to bring about a Democratic majority in Congress and with work and luck a Democratic president in the White House. Once we achieve those goals, we can start working "outside the system" to push those we elected to conform to policies that benefit the largest groups of people without disadvantaging the minorities and that keep the planet from being further plundered and destroyed. If we work against the system now, my view is that we only allow the kind of debacle we're witnessing AND experiencing daily because, to be frank, I do not see Republicans offering any hope of changing their allegiance to the highest bidder.

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAnca Vlasopolos

Additionally I feel that it is important for the person to continue learning and testing their suppositions, perceived truths and hypothesis of needed change, strategy and tactics against their evolving knowledge and compassion base.

I would also suggest that one recognize that many hands are called with many solutions and that multiplicity may be part of the answer one seeks.

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDariel Garner

We are all trapped in a system of unavoidable hierarchy stamped on our genome. You’re just talking about placing a slightly different emphasis on the exact same system. Every animal system, even anarchy, arrives at a pyramidal outcome. You might as well choose the most stable sensibility available and try to induce the most benefit from that concept. That seems to at least contain a shred of logic. Pretending as if you can alter a modal reality five hundred times older than humanity is illusory at best.

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMark Wheeler

My sense is that hierarchy and dominance are to the greatest extent illusory....We are all part of systems of being. People that we think of as being at the top of hierarchies are always subject to a myriad of controls and even self-imposed controlling behaviors, faults and faculties...even lack of imagination may be an enduring control. Does anyone think that Trump or Clinton are free to act as they wish? Do people actually think the USA could endure if people no longer supported it?

Systems theoretically can be hierarchical although I have never seen a pure hierarchy as they would tend to be very unstable due to inability to change to environmental stimulus. Hierarchy expresses itself in biological systems as over-specializtion in niche and is the most common form of species extinction, An interesting outcome of Darwinism gone to extreme.

General Systems Theory and the related mathematical analysis has revolutionized biological sciences and is just now gaining understanding by social scientists. ..I highly recommend it as enabling an alternate and very accurate look at how the universe works....It is actually quite empowering. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDariel Garner

Studies of surviving hunter- gatherer societies, such as the !Kung in Africa, have indicated that they are remarkably egalitarian, and efforts by group members to achieve dominance over the others are punished and shamed. Most of our inherited behavioral tendencies probably come from our hunter-gatherer ancestry as it extended thousands of years longer than the period beginning from the agricultural revolution to the present.

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCasey Dorman

Dominance heirarchy has been evident in the animal kingdom for four hundred million years. Whenever there is competition for resources, a dominance heirarchy invariably occurs. Rarely, and on a profoundly small basis, egalitarian cooperation may occur but only so long as new competitors from within or without do not successfully test the tribe or species. With regard to this political argument, there is absolutely no new competition being offered- just the same pathetic schemes for power and control within the same stultified system. That being said, Western democracy is about the best political structure we can invent and endure. “Progression” into socialism births tyranny through a very rapid gestational process. I’m still not sure why we haven’t learned the horrific lessons taught to us by literally every Socialist movement thus far realized.

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMark Wheeler

You may be deluded into thinking that the election process works to provide representation.
This is a lie.
Elections produce rulers, not representatives.

Our constitution is a document specifying a decision process.

That document specifies a process that is failing to properly administrate the principles advanced in our Declaration of Independence, AND the prohibitions contained in our Bill of Rights.
FAILING TO DELIVER rational and effective government.

It's NOT working, it's FAILING.

The systems we use are failing, dismally, to resolve the conflicts of modern society.
We need to fix the process we use to consider and enact resolutions, because what we use now ain't working.

If you are voting to elect someone to a position of power and authority, THAT is what you are choosing, some person, in a position of power and authority.

Nothing else.

If elections provided representation, we'd be working on solving or managing the problems we face as communities, nations and species, instead of arguing about porn stars and nazis.

ELECTIONS do not result in representation.
The reason we are unhappy with representational democracy is not because representation does not work, but rather that elections do not provide representation.

A RULER invokes THEIR decision, not YOURS!!!

A representative invokes YOUR decision, not theirs.

It is vitally important to understand this difference, between a ruler and a representative, because it is the difference between self governance and being ruled.


June 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter45 Mike Anderson

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