Thursday, July 10, 2014

The [RANT] Again

I have had this rant before.

I will probably have it again.

But we are continuing to go downhill on the slippery slope of hatred, partisan bullheadedness, ideological stonewalling, making any disagreeing person the personification of evil itself, and the desire to lash out and punish others who disagree.

It has been particularly evident in the years since Obama was elected president, but a closer look will show that, I believe, it has been going on since Clinton was in office, was a little more subdued during W. Bush's term (due to 9/11 I am sure) and ramped back up when we elected Obama.

Even during that slightly more subdued era with W. it was still there. Bush was seen by many as an evil man- or at least the evil puppet/front man of the truly evil Dick Cheney. Only the 9/11 attacks at the beginning of his term moderated the anti-Bush rhetoric for a while. Obama (and Clinton before him) did not have a Dick Cheney or a Donald Rumsfeld to be the surrogate devil. Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton have been some of that in this administration, (and now the VA) but overall, Obama, like Clinton, tend to be in the center of the spotlight identifying evil in our country.

This is just plain INSANE! (Here truly begins The Rant.) When have we become a country so divided that one side will attack the other when it does what your side had once advocated? When have we become a country that makes anyone, ANYONE, who disagrees with a policy or political position (read: ideology) is by definition unpatriotic, a menace to democracy, or even guilty of treason?

This is just plain INSANE! Democracy is NOT founded on a particular political ideology. It is not conservative or liberal. It is based on many things, including the will of the people. Yet both sides interpret the "will of the people" as being in 100% agreement with "our side" of the issue. The will of the people elects a president. But it also elects the legislators. OBVIOUSLY the will of the people encompasses BOTH sides. The will of the people is broad and deep and can be a very large umbrella.

But both sides refuse to accept the legitimacy of the other side. By ideological definition, the other side has to be wrong- because it isn't my side, the right side. Many political science students see this current divide in  our nation as beginning with Newt Gingrich who came into power on that type of bandwagon. Before that, in people like Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush the divides, while present, were also able to be bridged.

THAT is what a politics of democracy is all about. Discussion, discourse, finding middle ground, yes, even that horrible "c" word- compromise. Democracy does not work any other way. I don't care what the ultra conservatives or ultra liberal say. THAT IS NOT DEMOCRACY. It is an attempt at ideological bullying at best, and ideological dictatorship at worst.

And, again, BOTH sides practice it. Daily. Ad nauseum.

On Fox and MSNBC.

Across the Internet and Facebook.

I am %$^##**% sick and tired of it.

Yes, I lived through the previous years of division- the 60s with Civil Rights, the Vietnam War and Watergate. It was awful. Nixon was made the great Satan, but compared to today's discourse, he was downright cordial. His "enemies" list had nothing to do with ideology (though outwardly based on it) but was rather the result of his own mental health issues of paranoia and desire for power and probably addiction or alcoholism.

Perhaps part of the problem is that we are in reality a far more diverse nation than we have ever been. Most issues at this point are decided in polls by a bare majority. Yes, the polls jump all over the place depending on how you ask the question. You know- "Have you stopped beating your wife?" type questions. And yes, nonsense polls are presented every day that show some nonsense correlation instead of a cause that usually can be twisted and spun to support my side.

Example- I heard a question in a poll the other day:
Do you feel your freedoms have been eroded - or something of that general nature. A majority said yes to that.

The right-wing media pointed out that this is the result of Obama ignoring the constitution.

The left-wing media could have pointed to the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case or the beginning of the erosion of the constitution in the Bush administration.

BOTH SIDES WOULD HAVE BEEN RIGHT! (Sorry about resorting to yelling. This is a big issue for me.)

It is time for a change. Have there always been crazy extremists? Of course. They just have never had the wide public availability that social media and a 24-hour news cycle provide.

Do we need the whole spectrum of opinions? Of course. The conservative side reminds us of our limitations and the need to have a degree of common sense. (Yes, I said that. Don't kick me out of the liberal camp.)  We need the liberal camp to keep us on our toes and honest about our moral responsibilities to others.

I am a radical/liberal. But I also know that I can't have all my beliefs and ideas brought into law. That is not how democracy works. Do I get disappointed when "conservative" laws are enacted? Of course I do. But that is how we work in a nation like this. It is why, over the years, the pendulum swings back and forth.

I could go on rambling, since I have started down that path. I will stop. I have had my say. I pray that we will become more cautious in our rhetoric; I pray that we can learn to talk with each other, not at each other, or only with those we agree with. We wouldn't be here as a nation if that hadn't happened in 1776 and in many years since.

[Rant over. Back to the lazy days of summer.]

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