Breath of Clarity

Public Artistic Expression Transforms Polarized Ideology Into Worldview

American Politics and Government March 5, 2016

Worldview is a value system which defines interactions with the earth and its inhabitants. In ancient Greece, Socrates attempted to transform people’s worldview from principles taught by elites to insight derived from their own authentic experience. The philosopher challenged citizens to defend their opinions via foundational inquiry. However, the story revealed that authority often doesn’t support power to be determined by free-thinking individuals. Consequentially, the philosopher was sentenced to death. In modern day, artists model Socrates anti-establishment aim by working to manifest original truth from their emotional impressions. The public’s artistic expression as a campaign tactic contrasts elitist society’s effort to polarize voter opinion, as it supports free speech derived from visceral experience. Elitist concern with power acquisition divides the nation, as they attempt to create ideologically polarized voters. In Culture War, Morris Fiorina illustrates, “elites nominate the candidates and set the agenda for voters to respond.”1 When candidates rely on corporate to fund their campaigns, it increases the economic inequality gap across the nation, as the “divide between the working class and Wall Street is deeper today than it was in mid-century.”1 The board game Monopoly teaches Americans that utility needs to be bought within a democracy. According to the documentary Pay 2 Play, “corporations are profit-driven and their willing to sacrifice people in their own terms.”2 Furthermore, that power is secured and exponentially grows with gerrymandering. The elitists establish district borders which segregate people by ideology to ensure votes from certain areas. Instead of improving representation, gerrymandering

1 Morris P. Fiorina, Culture War? The Myth of Polarized America (2011), 1-66.

2 Pay 2 Play, directed by John Ennis (2014; Public Interest Pictures and Shoot First Inc., 2014.), Film. 

perpetuates political advantage. The elitist strategy is to convince Americans that the country lacks national unity. The media portrays America in a culture war, deeply divided on moral issues, by highlighting anecdotes from elite extremists. The deeply divided paradigm is accurate with regard to the competitive elitists, but not the majority of the public voters. The media exploits the supposed culture war because “the frame fits the news values of journalists who cover American politics.”1 They need their content to sell. However, culture war is a myth because voters’ choices don’t necessarily reflect their positions which exist all along a broad spectrum. Worldview’s separation from ideology crucially taps into our tolerance for ambiguity and innate cognitive style. When corporate intends to control democracy, the public responds by working to strengthen its own voice. Those who don’t hold the power to influence the candidates themselves must rest their faith in the democratic electoral process. They exhibit that money doesn’t equate to free speech. In Pay 2 Play, people effectively organized the masses to upset the concentration of power. 2 The people assert their political voice by illustrating perspective via street art. The public utilizes art as a modern gateway to reform. When uniformed citizens witness the display, conversation about political issues is born. Street art encourages the importance of not avoiding topics that make us uncomfortable, and instead prioritizes awareness in more beautiful way. In Pay 2 Play, a street-artist said, “we have to become our own congresspeople.” 2 It teaches that changing attitudes occurs by nature, as the physical display is constantly revamped. The ongoing effort devoted to its production shows that there’s an engaged community who feel political participation is worthwhile.

The powerful elite portray a worldview as fixed, whereas it’s actually constantly open to shifts because new experience can alter it. Competitive elections are crucial to increased voter participation because they stimulate conversation. In the radio podcast, 555: The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind, canvassers use dialogue to guide others’ so that individuals’ self- conceptions are represented accurately in the election. Researcher Donald Green asserts “it’s about changing the face that people associate with the issue,” and the canvassers’ vulnerability sparks the voter’s personal associations which were never previously brought to surface level.3 Street art’s purpose is to show people that their election choices need to be based on personal visceral experience. It allows for people to respond to each other, without needing to watch candidates engage and be speculative about intentions. While elite campaign tactics to work to convince and mobilize voters, the public’s artistic expression attempts to unify people under collective desire for self-understanding.

3 Ira Glass, This American Life, The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind- Do Ask Do Tell, Podcast audio, Web, April 24 2015, rarity-of-changing-your-mind?act=1#play.