Vicious Cycle of Politics

There are two related thoughts that have been on my mind today.

I was thinking about American history, as that is what I’ve been reading and writing about lately. I see these repeating patterns and it can seem odd to me. Things keep changing and yet they don’t. The odd part, to my mind, is that so few seem to notice or think it all that important.

My first thought is about religious tolerance and inclusion.

Earlier in American history, Protestants had most of the power and they oppressed all other religions. Those they feared the most, however, were Catholics, Quakers and Baptists because they were competing Christianities. After centuries of persecution, Christians started forming alliances for practical reasons of trying to maintain what they perceived as a Christian society.

Jews had also been a persecuted minority, but they weren’t Christians. Catholics were bad enough. Accepting and tolerating or even cooperating with Jews, now that was going too far. Nonetheless, alliances began to form. Americans began to speak, instead, of a Judeo-Christian tradition.

Muslims have now become the newest popular scapegoat. Muslims are perceived as the enemy of both Christianity and Judaism. This has strengthened the Judeo-Christian bond even further, even going so far as creating an unhealthy pact between the US and Israeli governments. However, as with Catholics in earlier Protestant America, Muslims are growing in numbers and becoming normalized.

It is simply a matter of time before Muslims will become part of the club. Americans in the future will speak of Islamo-Judeo-Christian tradition of Mosaic monotheism. So, then it will be the Mosaic monotheists against everyone else. Then, of course, a new enemy will arise that “Real Americans” will join together in order to fight.

Repeat and rinse.

This cycle is so predictable. It’s almost boring in how obviously predictable it is. I feel inane in even pointing it out. Why can’t we just skip forward a few cycles and save some time, not to mention lives?

My second thought is about socialism and capitalism.

Here is a video to give you an amusing way of looking at the issue:

This is the best portrayal I’ve ever come across about the problems of dogmatically polarized ideologies.

Each side is inseparable from the other, each existing in a vicious cycle of reactionary political rhetoric and power-mongering. One side wins, becomes full of themselves and goes too far. Then the other side takes power, becomes full of themselves, and goes too far. And the cycle continues, ad infinitum.

I was thinking about this because of reading about the Southern Plains and California.

Those living in the Southern Plains were originally motivated by the capitalist rhetoric of free soil that became popular with the early Republican Party. Then the railroad and industrial tycoons got greedy and eventually Wall Street collapsed which led to the Southern Plains farmers to be inspired by the rhetoric of agrarian socialism, interestingly using rhetoric not dissimilar to what was used with free soil politics. In both cases, rural farming was romanticized, whether it was seen as opposing slavery with free soil or opposing capitalism with agrarian socialism.

With the Great Depression, larger numbers of these Southern Plains farmers headed to California. Of course, they couldn’t be independent farmers there as land was owned in massive tracts by wealthy landowners and so instead many of them became poor migrant laborers. That was in some ways a fate almost worse than death in their minds, but the rhetoric of their agrarian tradition wouldn’t let them see how they were being taken advantage of. They moved into the factories as the Cold War pumped a bunch of federal money into the defense industry. Becoming middle class and respectable, these same people embraced capitalist rhetoric again.

Now, a second era of massive economic turmoil has hit us. People are criticizing capitalism and once again discussion about socialism has arisen, especially among the new generation. Heck, socialism is quickly growing in popularity, in this era when the Cold War is mere history to many Americans. Before long, the demand for left-wing reform will become strong again and even go mainstream.

It’s an endless cycle. It keeps repeating, I suspect, because of a collective amnesia about history. The switching back and forth tends to happen over several generations. By the time it switches back the other direction again, there aren’t many people left who have living memory of what came before.

What if this endless cycle is part of the problem. When neither side can win, when both sides keep repeating their same mistakes over and over, maybe a third option is in order.

Oklahoma: A State of Confusion

Here is an insightful article with a good comments section and another discussion on a forum:

South by Midwest: Or, Where is Oklahoma?

Is the U.S. state of Oklahoma considered a southern state?

So, what defines Oklahoma?

Religion or political party?

Oklahoma is part of a geographical region characterized by conservative and Evangelical Christianity known as the “Bible Belt“. Spanning the southeastern United States, the area is known for politically and socially conservative views, even though Oklahoma has more voters registered with the Democratic Party than with any other party.[213]

Census region?

Culture?

Oklahoma is placed in the South by the United States Census Bureau,[92] but lies fully or partially in the Southwest, and southern cultural regionsby varying definitions, and partially in the Upland South and Great Plains by definitions of abstract geographical-cultural regions.[93] Oklahomans have a high rate of EnglishScotch-IrishGerman, and Native American ancestry,[94] with 25 different native languages spoken.[14]

Because many Native Americans were forced to move to Oklahoma when White settlement in North America increased, Oklahoma has a lot of linguistic diversity. Mary Linn, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma and the associate curator of Native American languages at the Sam Noble Museum, said that Oklahoma also has high levels of language endangerment.[95]

Six governments have claimed the area now known as Oklahoma at different times,[96] and 67 Native American tribes are represented in Oklahoma,[45] including 39 federally recognized tribes, who are headquartered and have tribal jurisdictional areas in the state.[97] Western ranchers, Native American tribes, southern settlers, and eastern oil barons have shaped the state’s cultural predisposition, and its largest cities have been named among the most underrated cultural destinations in the United States.[98][99]

While residents of Oklahoma are associated with stereotypical traits of southern hospitality – the Catalogue for Philanthropy ranks Oklahomans 4th in the nation for overall generosity[100] – the state has also been associated with a negative cultural stereotype first popularized by John Steinbeck‘s novel “The Grapes of Wrath“, which described the plight of uneducated, poverty-stricken Dust Bowl-era farmers deemed “Okies“.[101][102][103] However, the term is often used in a positive manner by Oklahomans.[102]

Ancestry?

Shifting public opinion?

Now, the Southern Focus Poll, conducted by the Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, provides strong support for including such states as Texas, Kentucky and Oklahoma in the South. On the other hand, West Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, Delaware and the District of Columbia don’t belong anymore, if they ever did.

Fourteen polls, surveying a total of more than 17,000 people between 1992 and 1999 show, for example, that only 7 percent of D.C. residents responding say that they live in the South.

Only 14 percent of Delaware residents think they live in the region, followed by Missourians with 23 percent, Marylanders with 40 percent and West Virginians with 45 percent.

“We found 84 percent of Texans, 82 percent of Virginians, 79 percent of Kentuckians and 69 percent of Oklahomans say they live in the South,” says Dr. John Shelton Reed, director of the institute. “Our findings correspond to the traditional 13-state South as defined by the Gallup organization and others, but is different from the Census Bureau’s South, which doesn’t make sense.”

Geography?

Oklahoma Land Regions

A particular settlement patterns of veterans after the Civil War?

Oklahoma, with its rich, fertile soil and undeveloped resources, was attractive to Southerners ruined by War and Reconstruction.  They came in droves, hoping to better their lot.  Many of them were Confederate veterans.  Settled in 1887, Wynnewood, like most of the towns in Indian Territory, was populated nearly exclusively by people from the Old South states, and today the southeast quadrant of the state is still known as Little Dixie.

What about the significant numbers of Germans, Czechs, and Union soldiers/veterans in Oklahoma?  What about the socialists, progressives and populists? Don’t they count?

http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/articles/newspapers/news/goble.htm

http://www.travelok.com/article_page/germanhistoryinoklahoma

http://knowit.newsok.com/culture/german

http://www.tulsaworld.com/article.aspx/Immigration_At_Statehood_Many_early_settlers_spoke/070520_238_a19_iedit88381

http://digitalprairie.ok.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/culture/id/1900/rec/29

http://cvgs.cu-portland.edu/immigration/united_states/oklahoma.cfm

http://www.webbitt.com/volga2/census.htm

http://www.polka-on.com/?p=336

http://digitalprairie.ok.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/culture/id/1629/rec/17

https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Oklahoma_in_the_Civil_War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Oklahoma

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Party_of_Oklahoma

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6toRK8T7zBU

http://www.okgazette.com/oklahoma/article-2896-state-motto-labor-conquers-all-things-has-a-history-with-socialism.html

http://religionandpolitics.org/2012/05/01/oklahoma/

http://projectfreethought.org/2012/11/a-different-shade-of-red-oklahomas-socialist-past/

http://bakuninmatata.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/history-of-a-red-state-oklahoma-hotbed-of-u-s-socialism-2/

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/p/pr017.html

http://oddoklahoma.com/2013/03/20/progressivism-in-oklahoma-politics/

http://www.woodyguthrie.org/merchandise/oklahomagazette.htm

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/p/po013.html