I sometimes ask myself- Why are some of the most obviously two-faced of people holding office hold so much power? Why do some people listen to them? How can I combat this while also keeping check of my own extremes as well as others whom of which are like-minded? Do such people become less relevant without such a loud voice?
In a way they become less relevant since no one will bother to listen to them; however, there are more factors in how a movement grows. In some instances you give them a microphone (screw you media) and there is only so much one can do to combat it. In case you didn't get the hint by the title, the group in question is the Tea Party.
Groups sound bigger when given a microphone over other groups, and then the movement grows too big when it shouldn't and ends up being another political pandering tool. This is in part how people like Bachmann stay in office and why hyperbole is so effective in politics...bleh.
The loudest people in this country are the ones most politically active and given the microphone while the ones that are relatively quieter and down to earth aren't. While the Tea Party group may not be small, they are made to seem bigger due to being given the microphone over others (along with other factors that I'm sure we are all aware of). This is partly due to the news media bias of uplifting sensationalism in order to get ratings. Of course we can't forcefully take that microphone, because then we would become hypocrites ourselves. The 24hr news networks have a left leaning sensationalist bias, meaning they'll try to make some things more newsworthy than they are to get a emotional rise out of people, thus keeping ratings high (or to get them higher). Fox News is the conservative response to the left leaning bias specifically, in which some ways they are right that the bias exists; however, the response by the network and right wing radio has been so extreme that the political and media spectrums have been heavily polarized. Not only was the response incorrect but it is now done in an activist and immature fashion. More on this later.
We saw a glimpse of the silent majority during the Obama campaign because the man seemed to see the corruption in the system and seemed to be sensible. That silent power is in large part made up of younger voters, yet even they have been deceived by the politics of the US-due to lack of experience and effective campaigning techniques. In a system that panders to the loudest, the only options are to change things from the inside-which is slower yet less reactive and less chance of hardening extreme views, and to make your own voices heard.
as much as I chagrin to say it, in a way this is what the conservative right has done-they dominated talk radio and made their own network. They have grown to the point where they are influential even with hyperbole, because they know what to feed on-they know what buttons to push. This may be the most powerful method of change, but it is the most corrupt and least informative. This is kinda why I don't want a left-wing/liberal cable news channel, because it will fall down that same path and things will get more polarized. What should be fought for is a more sensible influence-like say for news media, a powerful cable news channel that isn't left (MSNBC afternoons/nite) or right (90% of Fox News) or an attempt to appease to both (CNN, having 4 people from both extreme ends of the political spectrum does not working, and we all know how bad Crossfire was). Of course this is kinda idealistic, but just because something is idealistic doesn't mean it should not have a strong fight. Hell, if that weren't the case you could say this country may have never been formed.
In a way the same thinking applies to religion (to me at least) in that one religion has a loud voice over the others in the US and in many ways is much more influential than the others when it comes to the power in this country; however, this doesn't mean that Islam or even atheism should have their own versions of Pat Robertson (sp?) or that they should bash or attempt to eradicate (physically, verbally, or politically) the other. all that would do is produce a bigger polarization and the moderates would become more alienated and weaker. I used to think differently though on this matter.
In my louder and more militant atheist phase, my thought process was more anti-theist than cooperative. I've been an atheist since I was 11 or 12. I went through all sorts of phases since then. I became existentialist, heck, even buddhist for a while, then very liberal mixed with a lot of passion of my atheism, to the point of which I was anti-theist.
When I entered university, I wanted things to change; however, I was alienating those around me due to being so vocal and obtuse- soon I became what I detested-someone who wouldn't listen and vocal without a care of people who did not think the same way as I did. I wasn't hesitant to say theists were idiots and as a whole never be as perceptive as an atheist due to that 1 difference in opinion. I wasn't hesitant in declaring that the Bible is a horrible piece of trash and that anyone who thought different was a corrupt moron (and much more). The same logic even applied to my thinking towards conservatives. I'm sure some of you can fill in the rest here without hesitancy.
Slowly but surely I started to change though into a more calm and sensible individual. My "enthusiasm"...for lack of kinder words, was not getting me anywhere with the people that I wanted to change, and it started to make me realize that the very "active" people like me who I conversed with were off-putting as well. I then had an epiphany when I once listened to some very vocal Catholic preacher. I realized I was becoming him but just with different views.
I slowed down both my thinking and emotions. Influences like conversing with people of different mindsets (in a more respectful manner), The Daily Show, George Carlin, The West Wing, research into countries and their histories, and a couple of books all helped a lot towards the change. Hell, South Park gave me a few swift kicks in a butt yet still made me laugh.
Most of all though, it was the people I was surrounded by---people who had a more positive outlook towards life while also realizing the things around them were not the greatest. They weren't overly focused in what was wrong. Of course, that is not to say that being focused on what you see is wrong is bad but rather if you let it dominate you, you will blind yourself in the process.
The tantamount of all these influences made me feel more at ease and I was actually thinking a lot more for myself for a change. I have become more calm and realized that not everything I believed in held much water, and that putting things into a different perspective is so important. We say a lot of wise words such as "putting things into a different perspective is important" or "think before I speak" but some.... hell maybe even most of us have not truly experienced the reality behind those words, or at least not far enough.
So what am I now? Not as active or nearly as volatile, yet still hold left-leaning views and now think much more before I speak, especially when about politics, rights of the people, economy, theism/atheism, media corruption, etc... Of course there is a great deal more into what I am today, but I'm not gonna divulge the rest. Most importantly though, I keep this at heart: The country's biggest weakness is also it's greatest and most beautiful strength: We are a nation that goes out of its way to protect its people, even its people who try to destroy it or change it for the worse. Furthermore, as a people we must continually be active and change for the better, so we can reduce incidents of failure of the above ideal. We can never really eradicate corruption and if you will, the stupidity the people sometimes show (since we are human), but we can always fight it to minimize the flaws to the best of our ability. Most importantly, demonizing people will not get very far, for people, even some of the most strident/ardent of us, are capable of changing (ok that may not be so true with age but blah!)
I know this was a long read and a lot of it is from a stream of consciousness, but I feel that with some of the things I read on the internet and even here, I wanted to say all of this.
One more thing: these damn spam bots on the site are starting to really frickin piss me off.