Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Politics and the American Dream

I've been giving some thought to this lately.  Mostly due to posts on facebook by friends of mine.  Democrat, Republican, Independent, whatever, they are almost entirely negative about whoever the "enemy" is. 

I understand the history behind negative ad campaigns.  They've been around as long as politics.  But it seems to me that sanity and logic have fled from the everyday person.  That the lines that divide us politically are being widened into chasms that cannot be bridged.

But I'm seeing a trend in this sort of thing that has given me some pause.

Take the following for example...

 Memes from the left, centering on the Republican candidates. They focus on making Romney and his conservative peers look foolish, incompetent, out of touch, etc. Twisting facts to fit a stereotype and make Romney look bad.

I found these by googling "liberal attack memes".

Then I googled "conservative attack memes"

The ones from the "conservative" sites were similar in tone to the "liberal" sites...

Again, using half truths and insinuation to make Obama and the liberals look bad.
This one struck me...
because of the ongoing cry of the extreme right that they don't like being labelled "racist".
But it was not hard to find the following pictures by googling "tea party attack memes"...

There is a difference about spinning the other sides weaknesses or faux pas to your advantage, and spreading things like the above, which focuses on outright hatred and yes, racism.  Now, I am aware that not every Tea Partier is a racist.  Just as I'm aware that not every Democrat is a socialist, nor every Republican a rich, white man.  But this sort of thing is disgusting and should not be tolerated by other Tea Party members. Does racism exist in the Tea Party?  I'd have to say yes. Lots of hate out there.
Then there are those on the right that post stuff like this....

Note the t-shirt on the guy in the picture above.  "Glenn Beck is my Hero" People like Beck and Rush Limbaugh are not much more than hate-mongers.  They spew lies and twist things to fit their narrow worldview, and for some reason people eat it up, usually while chanting "USA! USA! NUMBER 1!"
This too, sickens me.  There are actually people out there thinking that armed rebellion is in order if Obama is elected to a second term.
Really?  What sort of patriot do you take yourself for if armed rebellion is an option in a legal election cycle?  Don't tell me you stand for the Constitution and believe in that. 
But I digress.  The hatred from the right of center just seems so much more...intense these past four years. Much more pervasive. And it only seems to be getting stronger. 
This surprised me a bit.  That the Christians and especially the Catholics, seem to be coming out in droves with their own brand of hate.  But they call it persecution.

War on religion?  Seriously? How are men and women so different that I as a male can choose what is best for my body, and you as a female can do so as well, except when it comes to your uterus?  How does two guys or two girls getting married and enjoying all of the same legal protections I do being married to my wife threaten said marriage?  How is any of this a "War on Religion"?  This country was based partly on freedom of religion.  Which literally means that no single religion should be dictating the law.  We are not, as some would have us believe (see the guy in the top photo) a Christian Nation.  We are a nation of many religions, and those who have no religion.  I think Jon Stewart summed it up pretty well...
It boggles the mind to think that there are people out there who actually insist that their beliefs are the only true way to be American.  We are a melting pot of race, religion, sexuality, socio-economic classes, etc. And rather than finding ways to come together for "America" we seem to be falling apart into those very boxes that would define us.  Then we build a fortress around that box and arm ourselves with hate and lies, and somehow anyone who believes differently from you is not American.  Not a "True Patriot".  Not a "real Christian".  "They" become the enemy.
I've been unfriended on Facebook by those whose views I disagreed with.  I would like to say it was only a couple of whackadoos who I wouldn't really miss.  But my "friends" numbers over the years has fluctuated a lot because of those choosing to block or unfriend me.  And some of those people I do miss, very much.  Because I value their opinions, even though I disagree with them.  Because I value their friendships, even though we will vote for opposing candidates this fall. Because, politics aside, I really enjoy enjoyed their company.
But better still, I have friends out there who are staunch Republicans. Fiery Libertarians and Independents.  Outspoken Tea Partiers. Even extremely devout Christians.  They post memes on their wall.  And while I don't agree with some of them, none of them have been so offensive as many shown here.  These are the people that will disagree with me, vehemently sometimes, but still value my opinions and we have mutual respect for each other.  I feel extremely protective of their rights to voice differing opinions, as that is one of the things I signed up for as a US Marine.
Best of all is when these same friends and I are able to talk through our frustrations and realize that solutions do exist beyond that point.  That compromise is possible, and sometimes even preferable to the way things stand.  That sometimes "my side wins" and sometimes "their side wins" but both sides realize that the sun will still rise in the morning and life will go on and we'll still be friends.
My American Dream is that some day the seats of power in Washington DC will be held by people like those friends.  People who can disagree on issues, but compromise to get things done, and have mutual respect and honor.  People who discourage their supporters from lies and hatred. Actual leaders who take calculated risks in the hopes of making things better for the people they represent.  People who are able to see their ideas voted down and not be filled with vitriol for those who voted against them.  I'd like to see leadership that does not use God or the bible as a weapon. That takes into consideration ALL the people in the country, not just the loudest or the wealthiest.
I'd like to see an American people not filled with blood lust against those with opposing political views.  Those with minds that are able to grasp that not everyone will believe as they do, and that's usually OK.  And although I consider myself a Christian, I'd really like to see a day when Christians realize that opposition to their beliefs is not a war, and that our country must remain separated between church laws and secular laws.  I think I stated some spiritual truths in a previous post.  All religions should stick to that and let others do the same.
Most importantly, people like this guy...
.... words fail me.  Just... don't be this guy. OK?
OK, enough rambling.  The hour is late.  Bravo to you if you've read this far.
I'll end with this promise.  For the remainder of the political cycle leading up to the elections in November, this will be the last I speak on politics unless directly asked or challenged.  My mind is set for who I'll be voting for and what I'll be voting for.  As ever, my vote goes to the people who most line up with my core beliefs. I can't see anything that would change my mind between now and then.
And if you disagree with me, that is your right.  Just don't deny me my right to disagree with you.  Go vote! Vote your convictions and beliefs.  But when all is said and done, don't hate.  I promise I won't if I don't get what I want.  Have a little faith in the future.  I believe there are still more good people in this country than whackadoos.
No More Later (on this topic)


Grammy said...


Jason said...

Wow John. I thought your post on spirituality was rich, but with this you've found new heights of hypocrisy. Love, your Catholic brother.

John said...

And thank you for proving my point, my Catholic brother. I'm sorry you disagree with me. With the things I believe in and the truths that I follow. Your level of intolerance continues to rise for some reason. Which saddens me. Love, your brother.

Jeff Kath said...

Nice post John.