Tuesday, January 14, 2014
The Congress Paradox
Once different perspectives become explicable -- not accepted, necessarily, but at least explicable -- then I’m hoping there will be less need for the demonized synecdoche. We may not all vote the same way, but we’ll at least see some legitimacy in the larger picture. In the America of 2014, I’d take that.
Ok, for the record:
Please name the last Democratic Presidential run that included a comment from the top of the ticket using a piece of the US as a pejorative. Take your time. I'll wait.
Now please name the last Republican one that didn't.
The thing you think both sides do . . . only one side does. As long as we pretend the problem is something it isn't, we can't address it.
Today's post seems relevant to me locally concerning discussions about program assessment. The analogy by DD seems to describe vividly the perspectives of upper admin and departments toward the other's views and proposals.
The reason for the dichotomy, from a faculty perspective, is that we send all sorts of reports up the chain and thus expect the "administration" to be aware of our individual working conditions and issues. (Yes, I know most of those reports are not read, and ones that are will only be seen by one VP or ze's junior teetotum, but the information does flow up the chain of command.) However, even then a Dean may not know who gives multiple choice philosophy exams and who gives exams that require grading hundreds of pages, and other load-related facts.
It does not flow very freely, or at all, the other way. Some of this is because the issue concerns "personnel". Some of it is because Deans sometimes write memos as badly as faculty do, or never put budget or staffing numbers or decision-making criteria in writing.
And some of it is because faculty don't often talk across discipline boundaries about what they do on a daily basis or how specific weaknesses in one subject area (assessed or not) impact those teaching in another area.
The most incisive thing you wrote: "The key is in making other people’s realities visible and legible. It’s easier to take seriously someone whose constraints and imperatives are clear, even if you believe -- perhaps correctly -- that you would navigate them differently."
This is as true for citizens, voters, and Congresscreatures as it is for denizens of the academy. When we encounter "other"s as actual living, breathing people, it's a little easier to want what's best for them. Even when they don't share our experiences, interests or values. They still have moms and dogs and hangnails and stuff.
Doesn't mean that they weren't engaging in horrifying evil.
You're talking to the wrong crowd.
All of the books on domestic abuse say the same thing -- the counseling that allows people who care about one another to resolve differences and live together in some kind of harmony actually just empowers domestic abusers. This is because the abusers are doing exactly what they want to do and see their victim exactly as they want to see them -- a human being, under their control. So all the counseling does is shift whatever truth the abused party is dealing with (this person is doing awful things to me) into a false, damaging thing (it is partially my fault that this person is doing awful things to me).
I know a lot of Conservatives. I've dealt with them as individuals, and yes, they totally have moms and hangnails. But they also hate me, consider me subhuman, and want me to die. Both of these are possible. If your problem is that good (or even mediocre) people aren't talking well, then yeah, great, let's fix that problem.
If the problem is that one side is willing to re-engage in the greatest act of treason in US history for the precise same reason of racial hatred . . . then it's not a communication issue.