I love social psychology. I love to see how it can be used to help people find their place in life and build them up. I love to see people like Raymond Nelson, a teacher in Charleston, South Carolina who started a “Gentleman’s Club” for young boy who are growing up without a father. He helps them learn the skills they need to behave appropriately as they get older and stay out of trouble. He helps them build a positive identity.
However, when it comes to politics we can do better. Identity politics is out of control, and we have found new and creative ways to deal with cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance used to say “Accept the new information and change your mind, or reject the new information and work out why.” These days the method of choice is “Whataboutery,” and we have reached new heights of this in the last couple of weeks. “Whataboutery” means you can avoid the cognitive dissonance by passing it off to someone else. “Person A did a bad thing” meets “Yeah, well Person B did something bad, so I’m not listening.”
So, what’s my angle? Traditionally I have been a left-leaning moderate, but I have had a tough couple of years with Democrats. A few years back I helped get out the vote for Obama.
In 2016 I was a hardcore supporter of Bernie, as were many others in Michigan, and we chose Bernie over Clinton in our primary. Our Senators decided to ignore the voters and give the state to Clinton (confirmed election rigging, which is seemingly acceptable because “Whatabout Russia?”). Either election rigging is bad or it isn’t. Right? Is consistency too much to ask for?
Sadly, yes. The last two or three weeks, if nothing else, have told us that. They’ve have seen us descend to new depths as the SCOTUS nomination process has moved from the usual partisan yapping to full on lies, manipulation, lies, leaking of documents, lies, threats, lies, investigations, lies, and everything else we have come to accept as normal in politics.
The facts we know are:
Brett Kavanaugh may or may not have abused a Christine Ford while they were in school.
He drank a lot of beer.
She claims he assaulted her.
He said he didn't.
A creepy porn lawyer got involved bringing his own circus, set the big top on fire, and the whole circus went up in flames with elephants and donkeys scrambling everywhere for safety.
Those are the facts. Have I missed anything? I mean, actual undeniable facts that everyone can agree on and say "Yeah, that happened?’’ The rest is either fuzzy memories, lies, unverifiable history, or lies. For the supporters on both sides however it’s a huge game of “Whataboutery,” and it’s the “Whataboutery” that is going to bring us down.
“Whatabout his lie about drinking?”
“Whatabout her lie about polygraphs?”
“Whatabout his lie about his yearbook?”
“Whatabout her lie about fear of flying?”
Whatabout it? The question that seems to have been forgotten is: Did Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assault Dr. Christine Ford?
What we need is honesty. Admit it Democrats, you don’t want Judge Kavanaugh because he’s a Conservative. Conservatives don’t much like liberal judges. It’s OK. Well, it’s actually not, people should be judged on their ability not their politics, but it’s sort of OK.
If it were truly about sexual assault, and believing the victim is their position, Democrats wouldn’t have supported someone who said this about a 12-year old rape victim: "The complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing." They would be protesting and knocking down doors in the Capital. But they didn’t. In fact, millions of them voted for the person who said this. Why? Because “Whataboutery.”
Instead of focusing on this, it is easier to “Whataboutery” and point to comments about grabbing the feline.
Heinous acts don’t become acceptable because someone you don’t like did something else completely unrelated that is also wrong. It’s all wrong. All of it. It’s wrong.
When we play “Whataboutery” eventually we walk into a trap of our own making. Eventually we fall deeper and deeper into our own made-up world until reality doesn’t touch us anymore. Meanwhile, those on the edge of the group, such as myself, start to wonder if we really want to associate with that group anymore and groups like #WalkAway movement form. People need a home, it’s how we are built.
All we learn from “Whataboutery” and the descent into irrelevant desperation is that people have character flaws, but there is a huge difference between someone getting drunk under the legal age and sexually assaulting someone. “Whataboutery” takes us away from the original discussion and the argument falls into small indiscretions being used to add weight to the criminal accusation. For the record, I have no idea whether it happened or not, but this isn’t really about SCOTUS, this is about honesty and how far we are prepared to go off topic to defend our ideology. When the court of public opinion is in session it will dig so hard for so little, that surely none of us are safe. He who is without sin throw the first ice cube.