What if I told you the left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird

The 2022 mid-term election was less than a week ago, the dust is still settling and which party controls the chambers of congress remains uncertain. Beyond doing the requisite research necessary to fully complete and submit my ballot, I’ve tried not to follow the day-to-day drama too closely. It’s just not worth my mental health and well-being.

Regardless of the outcome, I’m grateful that election day is now in our societal rear-view-mirror (Except you, Georgia… sorry). The onslaught of political ads has slowed to a trickle as have the heated arguments, the fundraising emails, and the apathetic broadcasting their indifference in quips and memes. I’ve started to reflect on these memes and I am beginning to believe they communicate a deeper truth, and it’s probably not what the poster was intending…

For as long as I’ve been politically aware, there seems to have been a growing sentiment of “What’s the point, both sides are just as bad.” Increasingly apathy has a new face; pseudo-enlightenment expressed as copy-paste-friendly pithy quips like the one above. Here’s another one:

Left Wing/Right Wing same nut

It seems so many people see these as another excuse to disengage. Broadcast on social feeds justifying inaction and an attempt to balance the noised of the politically charged. Arguably, it’s basically just copypasta reductive “both-sides-ism.” There may be more just beneath the surface.

Let’s look at this meme differently for a moment. A wing nut is only functional if there is a left wing and a right wing–as long as the wings are roughly even and of the appropriate size. Many believe our American “nut” is broken right now. Amusingly, depending on who you ask, some will say the “left” wing is too big, others will say the “right” wing is too big. Perhaps it’s not about which wing controls congress or the executive branch, but rather the Overton Window.

Over the past few decades we’ve moved the Overton window so far from the center our nut is functionally useless. What was common sense a generation ago is now considered extreme and it affects how we operate and interact as a society.

It may be two wings on the same nut, but right now that nut won’t work the way it’s designed.