Years ago, towards the tail end of a relationship that had long been dying on the vine, the person who was-not-at-the-time-though-soon-after my ex had cited that the lack of affection on my part was contributing to the declination of that relationship.
(I had thought it was the fact that he was perpetually cheating, lying, stealing money from me and refusing to get a job were the actual reasons the relationship was on the downhill slide, but maybe that was just me.)
In specific, he said that I never initiated the affection. I didn’t hug him, touch him, kiss him, etc. of my own accord; it was only after he made the physical overture that I reciprocated.
I honestly hadn’t noticed that to be the case, but considering that I hadn’t been feeling particularly warm and fuzzy about him most of the time at that point, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and, still having some vague interest in salvaging the relationship that we had had, I made the effort.
Some days later, as he was sitting at his computer doing nothing in particular, I went over to him and put my arms around him. Much to my surprise, he shrugged me off and said how I always picked the worst times to decide that I wanted to hang all over him.
I was understandably stunned at the response. Not because of the rather harsh rejection, and not even at the fact that this statement directly contravened the one from days prior, but because I realized that some variation of this was what he always said whenever I tried to be affectionate towards him. He made it clear that the affection was unwelcome every time I showed any.
In trying to reconcile his actions with the words he’d spoken not a handful of days before, I had a moment of epiphany: He didn’t want my affection, he wanted me to want to be affectionate towards him so he could reject me. It was a power/control play in a series of power and control plays on his part that our relationship became – or perhaps always was.
Fast forward to October 1 – 16, 2013. Dateline: Government Shutdown
A Republican party, in keeping with their obstructionist agenda and unapologetically committed to blocking President Obama at every turn according to numerous reports, including this one , cries to the media about his refusal to negotiate on re-opening the government while ignoring their own refusal to do so in the six months prior.
How do you negotiate with someone who has already said that they aren’t going to cooperate with you? The answer is, you don’t. More specifically, you aren’t supposed to because negotiation isn’t what they want. Like my ex, the GOP only wants to be asked, to be afforded the opportunity to say no. They want the chance to be in control.
If this sounds like another iteration of the permission paradigm that I wrote about in a previous post, that is because it is.
More than that, just as my ex’s behavior was born out of a sense of powerlessness of his own creation – refusal to get a job, to tend to household matters, to embrace any responsibility of any kind – the obstructionist agenda is the agenda of the profoundly lazy. Saying no is easy, especially in a model where the inclusion of the naysayer is mandated. I am sure that there are many legislators on both sides of the aisle that would be much happier of certain elements of the obstructionist party could be bypassed while at the same time realizing that our democratic republic dictates that all have a say in the form administration of our country takes.
Not only is it sad to think that there are elements of our government taking the best aspects our nation and perverting it to their own selfish ends, it is a violation of the trust that we have placed in these elements by virtue of our votes.
While I am inclined to despair what the future of this country is going to look like after the obstructionist element gets done with it, I am heartened when I realize that the same dirty tricks, when employed by my ex, were not the beginning of the end, but the end of the end. They were, in part, his last ditch effort to save face, cognizant of the fact that the death spiral of our relationship had been launched by his unwillingness to truly participate in it because he was too busy trying to control it. The end was unavoidable, and he needed the something besides himself to blame for it.
Perhaps the same can be said about the obstructionists: Power mad and consumed with the desire to control, their base is literally crumbling with age, and in a country of ever-expanding demographic and cultural diversity, policies that cater to a handful of the population are outdated and unsupportable. Efforts to bolster their disappearing base with semi-educated, radically conservative, fanatically-religious, frightened and intolerant constituents have proven disastrous (Tea Party), hastening the party disintegration rather than slowing it. Perhaps with so many signs pointing to the end being nigh, and the realization that that end is the product of their own making, the campaign to save face and shift blame is all that’s left.
Truth be told, despite my left-ish leanings, I personally wouldn’t want to see that happen. I believe that there is enormous value in having a multi-party system because the existence of a left AND a right is the impetus behind moderate centrism, which is the only way that a truly diverse body can be adequately governed, administered and provided for. Our population is one of constant growth and flow – truly a body in motion. A healthy political party incorporates into its outlook a measure of elasticity that power plays simply don’t allow for. In committing to obstructionism rather than participation, the GOP had also perhaps sown the seeds of its own unavoidable demise.
I wondered at times where my ex’s life would be if he had spent more energy taking responsibility for his part in our damaged and later demised relationship and less trying to create blame for its failure.
I wonder the same thing about the GOP today.
Maybe we all should.