Dissonance: When Cult of Personalities Gets in the Way of Understanding

by | Sep 29, 2017


You know what gets in the way of progress? Dogma. When people are wedded to ideologies, society atrophies and ideas become non-existent. Voltaire once said, “it is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” Truer words have rarely been spoken; it’s as though America has morphed into a society of Jim Jones cultists. Personalities the Kool-Aid and politics the cyanide; we keep swallowing poison only to complain of migraines after we get bludgeoned by policies our political idols implement once they get to DC. The sheer masochism of it all would be comical if our fixation did not have such lethal consequences.

The sad thing is that I know some partisans will read this article and revel in schadenfreude thinking this write up is validating their presuppositions about “the other side.” In fact, you might see this missive being floated by various sides of the political and social divide to bash their political foes. Conservatives will feel vindicated as they smile in satisfaction that liberals are finally getting their comeuppance. Likewise, progressives will see this as a repudiation of Republicans. Few on either side will look in the mirror and realize that this article is talking about partisans on all fronts who elevate politicians and pundits as gods walking on earth.

You see the picture above? That is a picture of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump chumming it up back in the early 90’s during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Their friendship goes back further than that and their bloodlines even further–did you know that Hillary and Donald are related (read Clinton and Trump are Related). The masterful act that these two contemptible “human beings” put on as they pretended to be adversaries during the 2016 election is a performance even Tom Hanks could not emulate. Far away from the klieg lights and the cameras, the Clintons and Trumps have been the best of friends and compatriots for decades.

The professional class involved in politics and the establishment press know this fact to be absolutely true, yet the bankrupt Corporate State Media passes on this farce of Hillary and Donald’s rancor as news. This is nothing new for the industry of yellow journalism that the mainstream media have become; the infighting between Republicans and Democrats that is broadcast as a battle royale is nearly as big of a lie as the myth that the Federal Reserve is a government agency. Republicans and Democrats are not in opposition; they are flip sides of the same coin and factions serving Wall Street interests who are codependent in fleecing all of us. If you need proof, next time you are in the DC area, stop by Old Ebbitt Grill on 15th Street NW and you will see TV adversaries getting drunk together as bedfellows–I say bedfellows with full intention.

At least there is a rational for the Corporate State Media perpetuating these blatant lies and imposing this sham duopoly on the citizenry. The primary interest of the supposed “free press” is not speaking truth to power nor is it to act as a last line of defense astride tyranny; the establishment media’s overriding concern is increasing profits and enhancing revenue streams from the ocean of Corporate gluttony. What is our excuse? We don’t get paid a penny by these two malignant parties nor do these politicians give a rat’s ass about us. Yet we twist ourselves into human pretzels trying to get next to these very leeches who are sucking our collective blood.

Breaking news to the people on the “left”! The iniquities of the world did not just start on January 20th, 2017. Obama continued Bush’s immoral and illegal wars with impunity and he did a thousand times more to widen the wealth gap between the haves and the have nots and kneecap the middle class and working class by feeding all of us to Wall Street. Remember when we used to be outraged by the tortures going on in Abu Ghraib? Obama has now set the precedent of assassinating combatants and US citizens alike without a hearing! Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Is being droned to smithereens more altruistic than being water tortured or was our concern about human rights nothing but sport?

Breaking news to the people on the “right”! Remember when you were outraged over Benghazi and Obama’s executive overreach? Crickets! It’s like America has a pestilence of political locusts! Was the whole spiel about Obama’s imperial presidency just partisan rhetoric? Was your defense of the Constitution nothing more than faux patriotism? Is it OK for “your president” to put a shredder to the Constitution and Bill of Rights only to get spun up into a tizzy when a Democrat does it? The same strict constructionists become loose contortionists the minute their side of the isle commit the very excesses they were once upset about.

Instead of focusing like a laser on the very economic policies that pillage all of us and make it harder and harder for us to provide for ourselves and our children, we get distracted by idiotic red meat issues. One second it’s gay marriage, another second abortion, yet another people taking a knee during anthems. Why not leave others be with their personal choices and we keep our eyes on the policies that are being written by special interests and enacted by their bought and paid for politicians in DC? It’s sad to witness people on all sides and of all stripes beating each other to a pulp and defending politicians they will never meet in their lives. We keep elevating anti-heroes to the level of deities as we get squeezed daily by inflation and regressing incomes.

By the way, I don’t mean to be too pretentious here or worse yet pious. It was only nine years ago that I ran to be Obama’s state delegate from Virginia’s 8th Congressional District and lost by three votes (video evidence to prove my once hackery). This article is titled “dissonance” for a reason, it took a cognitive dissonance sponsored by hardship and indigence before I woke up to this two-party shell game. It seems that is the only way people are jarred awake from idolatry and moved enough to shake off the chains they revere. Cognitive dissonance is when a new set of facts intrudes into our psyche that is so profound that it induces a deep sense of dissonance (discomfort) that charts the course for a new way of thinking. Liberation is found through adversity.

A new way of thinking is precisely what is needed in our political discourse and society at large. Until we have a critical mass of people who refuse to ingest the garbage that is peddled to us, we will continue to be led by the nose. Boy oh boy are we being led by the nose! Just think about this for a minute; the same crowd who call themselves conservatives and deeply patriotic are now following a shyster who is thrice divorced, cheated endlessly on his former wives, sexually objectified his own daughter on countless occasions, ran afoul of every conservative orthodoxy for decades while he was partying with the Clintons in NYC and is a draft dodger. Damn the facts! Who cares about this stubborn thing called truth when Trump is speaking to the grievances and whispering the simmering anger of the #MAGA crowd.

Likewise, the same liberal crowd who was up in arms over George Bush’s wars and the ways he tilted the scales to the 1% lined up like lemmings to vote for Hillary. This is the same Hillary who bled Haiti and endless developing countries dry as she used the Clinton Global Initiative as a personal money laundering machine and collected bribes from the most reprehensible despots and shady business owners. But wait! There’s more! This would be “first woman president” was such a feminist that she euthanized the reputation and lives of countless women for the past 30 years in order to protect her sexual hyper-predator husband Bill Clinton. The same Bill Clinton who regularly parties in Mar-a-Lago and Chappaqua with the neo-Rasputin who is now our president.

The whole system of politics is nothing but a con game. Cyclical change makes us think we are voting for change even though the alternatives are restricted to two equally malicious parties. Alas, before the last vote was counted on November 8th, 2016, the same voters who were outraged by Hillary’s loss were already lining up behind neo-liberal candidates for the 2020 election. Are our minds so limited and our imagination so myopic that we can only choose leaders that our chosen for us? Before my conservative friends smile a bit too much, how is Trump working out for ya? Has he audited the Fed Reserve yet? Did he stop nation building yet? Has he built that wall yet? Has he repealed Obamacare yet? Has he withdrawn from NAFTA yet? Crickets!

Tocqueville once said that people get the government they deserve. He was right. We treat politics like a reality show, we now have a reality show carnival barker residing at the White House. We worship at the feet of the rich and famous, is it then any wonder that these same gentry step on our necks with their Fendi and Stefano boots? Until we wise up and put aside political idolatry, we will continue to be treated as the stepping stones of the elites. They actually call us that, both parties call their most loyal voters their “base” as they dismissively deride their adherents as “the beneath” of the party. Damn! Not even Jim Jones treated his followers with such contempt.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I was reading Thoreau’s Walden Pond not too long ago and found myself in utter bemusement when I realized that we humans are so easily led astray. The more we advance as a society, the more we stay mired in inertia. When you get a chance, read the book but let me quote one section as it is very relevant to this discussion:

As for the Pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs.

Just how long will we keep breaking our backs, giving our blood and sacrificing our lives in order to feed the opulence and ego of the very people who are at the root of our collective suffering? Instead of acting like crabs in a barrel and clawing at each other, how about we unite and claw at the barrel that is oppressing all of us? Or will we keep trying the same things, expecting different results and then wonder why the world is going to the dogs?

Here is a thought. Stop self-identifying as Republican or Democrat and stop ascribing to ideologies that neither pay our rent or feed our children. Put ideas above ideology and get behind people based on their actions and not their words. Stop worshiping the rich and powerful; trust me they have no love for you–away from hot microphones they mock all of us for being their useful idiots. Stop offering your back for others to step on; for God’s sake have some dignity and stop fawning over people just because they are rich and famous! Or remain faithful to these goons in expensive suits and pantsuits and see how far that gets us. In due time, cognitive dissonance comes for all.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” ~ Voltaire

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Ghion Journal.


  • Teodrose Fikre

    Teodrose Fikre is a journalist and the founder and editor of The Ghion Journal. Once a defense consultant, he was profoundly changed by a two-year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Fikre a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.

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