Partisanship is not a figurative expression, but quite real. It is, in fact, an actual chronic disease. If you know someone who has come down with the conservative or liberal version of this infection, take heart: there is a cure! People who have trouble telling the difference between female law students and prostitutes don't have to suffer any longer. Nor do people who have the compulsion to pitch tents in front of banks thinking they're "occupying" them.
This disease has reached the highest levels of our society -- congressmen, presidential candidates, even Clint Eastwood. Yet it's not recognized by the American Medical Association and is minimized by just about every doctor as if it were a common cold. Of course, symptoms such as headaches after viewing the "lamestream media" or Fox News can be alleviated with aspirin and some deep breathing and shouldn't cause much alarm. But what about the conspiracy theorizing, the paranoia of forwarding emails with Obama photo-shopped wearing a fez and praying to Mecca, or of Mitt Romney as the Ken doll (some people think this is actually a compliment for him)? Widespread hallucination has become a serious symptom with untold harm. Look at how debilitating to American testosterone the hallucination of weapons of mass destruction in the Iraqi dessert has proven.
I have studied over 200 individuals and have isolated the two viruses responsible for this disease. They are parasites that battle each other for hosts to infect for their own survival and become very active every election cycle. Most people catch one or the other, depending upon their susceptibility, and only on rare occasions does an individual have both viruses -- Senator Joe Lieberman being an example.
The conservative virus attacks those who love red meat, particularly hamburgers cooked rare; those with a passion for NASCAR, guns and Clint Eastwood movies; real men's men and women's women. Climbing the corporate ladder makes them ecstatic. The liberal virus attacks those who love tofu, particularly veggie burgers; those with a passion for art museums, recycling and British movies on PBS; sensitive girly men and liberal arts women. Cooking a gourmet meal makes them ecstatic.
The viruses embed themselves in the soft tissues of the larynx and are dispersed out into the environment by speech. Politicians, pundits and talking heads are the most extreme cases and spread the viruses from coast to coast whenever they open their mouths. One morning a particular virulent radio host couldn't distinguish a female law student from a prostitute; by that afternoon thousands of his listeners were cruising streets looking for legal advice from hookers.
Once infected, normal Americans become possessed by their virus and speak in a language understood only by their particular viral nation, a special code: Obamacare, refudiate, left coaster, drill baby drill; or diversity, public option, neocon, I didn't inhale. They exhibit inflamed tempers, reddened faces, and refuse to reveal their tax returns.
For example, one subject recounted what had been giving her a headache and fever over the past few months: sales tax, state and federal income taxes, capital gains tax, real estate tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, corporate tax for her LLC of rental property, self-employment tax, payroll taxes, including unemployment and workers compensation taxes for the two part-timers who clean and maintain the properties, city taxes for local services, county excise tax, airfare and hotel taxes, gasoline tax, inheritance tax, cable TV tax, cell phone tax, and a flush tax on her toilet.
She said, or rather kind of recited, with a poetic melody somewhere in the background of her imagination, "If you text a message, they'll tax your tweet; if you sing a song, they'll tax your beat; if you crave a snack, they'll tax your treat; if you see a friend, they'll tax your meet. Let me tell you how it will be; there are two for you and for them twenty-three. Don't ask them if it's fair; if you don't want to pay more than your share!" She continued to blame her headache and fever on taxation without the slightest clue that she's infected with a virus.
The treatments I have discovered work for most sufferers. A 12 method, borrowed from AA, is effective but requires access to a straitjacket and heavy sedatives. It should only be attempted by medically trained professionals. The most permanent solution is politically unwelcome: secession of red diseased states from blue diseased states. If the viruses don't meet, there'll be no antagonism and sufferers could live in peace with their infections. But this was tried way back in 1862 and would have been successful if not for that rabidly infected (just look at a photo of his undertaker complexion!) Abraham Lincoln. No politician wants to take this on.
A very effective remedy I would propose was used by our Founding Fathers; actually two of them partook of its custom. Dueling with pistols was employed whenever infected citizens became uncivil as they have become today. Presently, insults that are typically thrown at one's opposing host, quite casually, would at that time have resulted in a life or death challenge to a duel. This tradition kept everything in check as the viruses don't want to lose their host and thus don't let things get out of hand - a sort of détente. A duel could result in a dead host as it did for the unfortunate first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. It also has the added benefit that those who are the most violently infected would welcome dueling with their opponents, and thus their population would, fortuitously for the rest of us, decrease.
It's high time to declare war on these diseases and to direct all our efforts to cure them. Washington won't; it's too infected and has succumbed to the incapacitating symptoms. Our congressmen and president are suffering. And our media is also infected and has become the single most responsible institution for spreading the pathogens.
No longer do people have to segregate themselves from the rest of society to live and associate only with those who are infected with their virus, unable to carry on a conversation with anyone from the "other" America without suffering a fit of convulsions and rants. One day we may be able to actually debate and discuss politics without the crazed zombie look in our eyes.
John Cooker is the author of the political satire, Cure Your Democracy: The Infection, Spread and Treatment of Contagious Opinions, available on www.amazon.com. More information and treatments are available at www.CureYourDemocracy.com.