I was reading an editorial column entitled "Politics as Religion" by an LA Times writer in the Tribune today. In it, the columnist contends that modern politics, in many circles, has become a religion. He reasons it this way:
"For centuries, American democracy as a process of conflict resolution has been based on give-and-take; negotiation; compromise; the acceptance of the fact that the majority rules, with respect for minority rights; and, above all, on an agreement to abide by the results of a majority vote. It takes compromise, even defeat, in stride because it is a fluid system.... But religious fundamentalism rests on immutable truths that cannot be negotiated, compromised or changed....
He goes on to say:
"The fundamentalist political fanatics will always be more zealous than mainstream conservatives or liberals. They will always be louder, more adamant, more aggrieved, more threatening, more willing to do anything to win. Losing is inconceivable. For them, every battle is a crusade -- or a jihad -- a matter of good and evil. "
This reminded me of a video I saw where a man went and interviewed people who were protesting at the 9/12 event in Washington. People there had very strong opinions. What caught my attention was that, very often, it seemed that the weaker the knowledge an individual had on the subject, the more vehement they were in their stance. As the author of the article said, their opinions almost seemed to have more of a religious bent than a political one.
Not that I am against people having strong opinions. However, I do wonder where we are headed politically when there seems to be little relationship between our knowledge of a topic and the tenacity with which we will hold an opinion.
I hold fairly strong opinions on the educational system and on aspects of the Christian religion... but I also have a fairly deep level of knowledge and experience. When it comes to things like the present health care argument, I hold my thoughts a little more open-handed. I tend to be a proponent of universal health coverage... but I try to keep my opinions to a personal level and reasoning. The matter is too nuanced and complex for me to be very emphatic with my opinions.
In this video, you will see people who are passionate to the point of anger, disgust, and frustration. Yet, it takes only the simplest question or bit information to upend their view and leave them stumbling. These are cases of fundamentalist-like belief on a political topic. They are 100 % certain... on a topic of which they have little, to no, experience or education.