Deborah Cox's most iconic song from the late 90s asks a simple question to a love that she never saw coming: "How did you get here?"
As I sit at home listening to pundits debate and discuss presidential politics, elections, Congress and the like, I find myself asking a more inclusive version of the question: How did we get here?
To say the nature of government and politics is polarized is the flip flop to the stiletto heel. Somehow our country has become so black and white (metaphorically and literally). We have so little room for grey when it comes to our views on issues great and small - and everyone is often lumped on one side or the other, having to take whole of the ideas or none of them at all.
Is no one pro-life AND for gun control? Are there politicians who will openly say I believe climate change is a sham AND I think the over-policing of black people is a real problem in 2015? Is there a candidate that's for marriage equality AND telling Iran where they can stick their deal?
Surely, this can't be representative of America. All Liberals and all Conservatives can't be so respectively monolithic. But our choices at this less-than-savory politician buffet certainly seem to believe we are.
How did we get here?
Why is it so controversial to want to require a background check and maybe some training to get a gun? Most logical people can arrive at the conclusion that a gun is something that should come with some education. Except... if you believe the glaciers are melting because we're doing such incredible damage to the Earth. In that case, obviously you believe guns should be given away in Cracker Jack boxes, figuring out what's up with the Earth's "rising" temperature should be left to God, and illegal immigrants are the sole reason for all crime and why no one anywhere can find a job.
If I believe abortions totally suck but women should make their own choices about their bodies, feel like the Keystone XL pipeline is the best thing since funnel cake, and think cutting taxes on corporations really will help the job creators make more jobs - who the hell is my candidate? How did where you stand on #BlackLivesMatter tell me EVERYTHING I need to know about all the rest of your seemingly unrelated political views?
Our representative government has gotten so incredibly frustrated and separated that it's not representative of anything but itself, and certainly not us, the "represented."
How did we get here?
Deborah's following lyric is almost as perfect at the preceding inquiry: "Nobody's supposed to be here."
We're supposed to be the land that offers diversity (in ALL the ways that we are different, not just ethnicity). We're supposed to be able to think for ourselves, feel for ourselves, be open to new and different ideas, change our minds, agree to disagree, and all stand under the same flag, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. But this... this isn't who we are supposed to be. This isn't where we're supposed to be. Nobody's supposed to be here.
This article isn't going to wrap up in a Tiffany bow and give you the answer, because there may not be (just) one to fix our status quo. But I do hope we, as Americans can begin to investigate the ways we are submitting to groupthink. The ways we're just following suit, falling in line, and just thinking what we're supposed to think because we lean red or blue (or green, not judging).
While Deborah probably didn't write this perfectly performed ballad with sociological undertones, a critical analysis of party politics, or questions about the disparate and polarized nature of how Americans govern ourselves in the spaces of government and social ideology... I'm sure Cox would agree that in America we're supposed to be able to have a conversation with someone that we don't always see eye-to-eye with and every now and then walk away saying "you came along and changed my mind" a little more than we say "No no no no no."
Then again, she's Canadian. And the last single from this same album was called "We Can't Be Friends." And the hit that followed was called "Absolutely Not," and... well... if that's her political perspective she's clearly a Republican. #JustSayin #Amirite