Taking back “both sides”

The phrase “both sides” was unfortunately used in a moronic way by our president and has come to be a point of contention between the two self-created “sides” in American politics today. The “left” uses “both sides” as a negative phrase, claiming anyone using it can’t see the difference between neo-nazis and children being tear-gassed at the border. The “right” uses “both sides” as a defense to claim that the atrocities they are committing are no worse than the ones the other “side” has committed in the past. That there are bad actors on both sides somehow acquits them of responsibility for their actions.

To Unaffiliated Voters (the largest voting “block” in the nation) “both sides” is an eye-roll and a heavy sigh. It isn’t a new phrase getting bandied about by pundits and partisans. It’s a very real feeling that the game is more important than getting anything done. “Both sides” don’t actually care about fixing the problems, just so long as they “win”.
This winning doesn’t even have to be in elections. It can just be in the particular twitter or facebook thread. The conversation around the Thanksgiving table. They’ll throw out vile, repulsive, and largely inaccurate accusations at the other “side” just to “win” the current argument. And winning just means feeling superior to cousin Jimmy because he didn’t have a snappy comeback for your Nazi zinger.

None of this actually moves anything forward. It’s actually a detriment to the national conversation. When you dehumanize the other side (nazis, libtards, etc., etc.) you don’t have to consider any of their points as possibly valid. How could they be? They aren’t even human! And, I can assure you, “both sides” are guilty of this dehumanizing behavior. Some may be more subtle at it, and others may be less subtle because they feel emboldened by recent events, but “both sides” do it.

Someone from the “left” will regale you with the latest shooter at a Jewish temple (something you don’t need to have shoved in your face as it was horrific enough the first time) as evidence that the other “side” is worse. Someone from the “right” will shove a guy gunning down congressmen at a baseball practice (again, don’t need to be reminded of the horror) as the perfect example of how unhinged the other “side” is.

Reality is that there are shitty people in this world. And those people would be twisted and cruel if you had never created your “sides”. But your “sides” do give them a chance to belong to something, and to have an “enemy” to hate. Now they feel justified. Now they feel like you agree with them because you’re on the same “side”. That you will cheer if they carry out their atrocity, because you think like them, right? You have to, you’re on the same “side”!

I’m sure that, by now, you are sick of my quotation marks. Unfortunately I have to use them. Because these are concepts, not just words. They are completely made up and self-selected groupings. Why would we do this to ourselves? I couldn’t tell you. I’m not in one of the groups. You should ask them. If they can explain it to you, let me know.

I’m out here with the other unaffiliateds, trying to get some work done while the battle rages stupidly around us. Wondering why compassion has been forgotten. (Because you can’t be compassionate for someone that thinks minorities are sub-human! Because you can’t be compassionate for someone that thinks stealing my hard-earned money and giving it to lazy people is justice!) Trudging along in the mess others insist on making.

As someone unaffiliated and, in fact, rejecting both of your “sides” I’d like you all to know that you both suck. Your insistence on creating division, your love of hate, your sick need for showing how much “better” you are than your made-up opponent is repulsive. Go ahead and pick your “sides”, I’m not playing.

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