I don't know.... if it's the ubiquitous, pervasive presence of TV in all of our lives, but it seems to me that "groupthink" has taken over. Maybe our herd instinct has been reactivated since we all seem to see and hear the same information (and then we're told exactly how to interpret that information by the omnipresent, omniscient commentators). Somehow our individuality is being wrung out of us like a dirty mop, leaving only conformist strands to hang in the wind.
Think about it... if you're a Lefty Democrat, you'd better think like a Democrat and walk the straight and narrow along every plank of the party. There's certainly no room in the mainstream Democratic party for prolifers or outspoken NRA members, for those who believe global warming might be just a manifestation of a natural cycle... or for anyone who controverts the Democratic stance on other well-known and talked-to-death issues.
Ditto if you're a Righty Republican.... who may happen to believe in the people's/government's responsibility to the homeless, working poor and seriously disadvantaged. How about the complex issues of immigration and illegal immigration? Or a Republican who (gasp!) may not be the most patriotic person on the planet? Little room on the elephant's back for these folks.
Every issue, every facet of our American culture has become homogenized and polarized, and one no longer has the luxury of just plain sitting on the fence or admitting you really don't know which side is "right." Choose, choose, choose your side of that fence and hold onto until your fingers bleed, until you're red in the face and hoarse from shouting your opinion.... and it damned well better be the same opinion of those on your side of the fence.
Or maybe this is my own private problem. Maybe I'm the last wishy-washy person left in America who can't choose a simple "this way" or "that way." Maybe I was daydreaming when we were taught in Catholic school to have the courage of our convictions... or, is it possible that the issues have become so complex that there really is no single correct answer?
I'm always amazed when I'm with someone who knows absolutely, beyond the shadow of a trout, the single correct side of any issue, and who can support it with facts and cite scholarly references and a plethora of data.
Of course, those references and data are always written and produced by those holding the same point of view, and the opposition will have its own references and data and equally firm convictions. It's nearly impossible to find any truly objective facts -- each side of every issue has its own cadre of experts, wielding its weapons of factoids and statistics. What's a poor girl to do?
I can't decide if my indecision is a virtue or vice. Depending on whom I listen to, I seem to be able to see all sides of all questions... a philosophical chameleon or spineless jellyfish, choose your metaphor.
The trouble is, each side of every question DOES HAVE merit. There are at least two sides, and more often a geodesic dome's worth of sides, to every issue. It's in weighing the points and choosing a stance that I fall on my face. For me there is no one right answer, no one simple solution, no one side.
There must be great comfort and peaceful dreams for those who lumber along with their chosen herd, no longer questioning the herd's direction, no longer even looking at any issue remotely objectively, and, sadly, no longer wondering if that herd over there might have a few better answers or a more creative approach to find them.
I don't have that particular comfort nor those peaceful dreams, and I'm out of step with whatever drum the groupthink majority is marching to.
Somehow, though, I'm not too sad about that.