Politics as usual must stop

As the other hosts have their blogs aggregated here, but I don’t have a blog of my own, I’m posting my thoughts directly here. I don’t blog because I think I should only say something in one that is important enough to need to be said. I know that’s not how everyone else seems to see it, but blogging came to be long after my ways were set and I don’t expect them to change.

That said, on to the main subject of my thought.

There was a recent story that ran in a number of places that claimed there were a lot of things hidden in the stimulus package. I don’t doubt that. One of the specifics mentioned was 30 million dollars for the endangered mouse living along part of San Francisco Bay.

That story was false. A distortion.

One of the responses to the story got my blood up. It was the most recent of several similarly themed comments, and not the worst. Someone I know said the following about the story.

“No mice. No Pelosi. Complete GOP lie. As per usual.”

Statements like this make my blood pressure rise, be they from the right or left. Now you get to hear what I think about this phenomena.

[Rant Mode ON]

Enough is enough. It’s time for these hard-line, biased smear attacks to called out, whatever side they come from. The hard left lies and distorts just as much as the hard right. Anything claimed by the far right or left needs to be looked at with a jaundiced eye. They are after all, extremists. It’s been that way for as long as I’ve been an adult and longer. At this point, it doesn’t even matter who started this downward spiral. We don’t need finger pointing, we need to stand up as Americans and say this isn’t right and it needs to stop.

The sad thing is that this kind of talk has become so widespread that people see it as the norm and acceptable behavior. It shouldn’t be. The Washington Times distorted this story and they don’t expect to be called on it because everyone there does it. While not quite yellow journalism, it’s close. And it’s not just the media on the right. The media on the left has been just as bad with the New York Times leading the way. Don’t get me started on the television media. Both sides can and do intentionally distort a story to try and influence people that they don’t seem to realize already share their point of view. News flash! People take in news from organizations that share their biases.

With something like 40% of the country being a Democrat of some type, and about the same amount being a Republican of some kind, we need to be finding ways we can work together, come together. Not point at the other side and call them liars and trash everything they do. We need to find points we can compromise on and come together. This divisive talk, demonization, and at times outright hate of someone whose ideas don’t mirror our own will never, ever do anything to help this country and all its people.

Such one-sided behavior is bigotry, pure and simple. A bigot is, as defined at Dictionary.com, one who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ. If this isn’t bigotry, I don’t know what is. Now, that being a hot-button word, I’ll no doubt be flamed for my “intolerance” of someone’s right to speak as they see fit.

So be it.

Perhaps such things just trip off our tongues and we don’t realize how hateful they are because everyone around us seems to share the same views. Well, we should be told. Hate and intolerance should always be called wherever we see it. If enough people say no to something odious, society changes. 1960’s anyone? Things have changed. It’s time to raise our voices again.

Paraphrased, President Obama says we can’t keep doing business as usual, being partisan hacks. I couldn’t agree more. Yet his voice is being overwhelmed on both sides. I may not have voted for him, or even support most of his policies, but in this I am his loyal servant. We must change Washington or it will change us. For the worse. To do that, we have to change ourselves and those around us.

The founders envisioned the people of the government would be drawn from the people, bringing their views to Washington. Instead, Washington now seems bent on dividing the country and forcing their myopic biases on the country. And it’s working.

Where does that lead us? Do the people in Washington that behave this way ever look at the endgame? What do they expect to come from this behavior? Do they really think their divisiveness will convert the other side to be like them? Doubtful. Nobody is fool enough to think that demonizing someone and their beliefs will make them do anything but move further away from your view. So, what is the point? Making people hate you because you attack them? Counterproductive.

I don’t really think any of them have a long-term strategic goal. It’s all about short-term tactical goals. Gathering power and control long enough to ram through your agenda before the other side gets control back and undoes what you’re doing and does what they want.

I didn’t vote for President Obama, but I did hope that he could soften both sides and bring back some civility and cooperation to Washington, get them to look past their own short-sighted desires. Bipartisanship. I still do cherish hopes, though they are fading.

Every time anything political is trotted out in a public forum, we see zealots from both sides come out and do as Washington does. Frankly, I’m tired of it. Zealots aren’t interested in finding common ground and bringing people together. They just want to take that issue they feel so strongly about and use it as a club to beat someone with.

It’s time to stop acting like children who don’t understand what compromise and respect for opposing points of view is. Adults learn the art of compromise. That is how society survives. We as a people need to grow up. We’re all Americans (those of us that are, of course) and it’s long past time we started behaving like responsible adults. If we can’t start coming closer together, then we will move further apart. Does anyone really want to see that? It can, and will, get uglier if we allow it to continue unabated.

Look at the endgame. People that are divided do rash things, because they feel they are disenfranchised, that have no voice or control. Do we want to condone even more drastically partisan behavior?

I don’t.

Stand with me to dial back the rhetoric. It’s fine to disagree, even vehemently, on issues, but when we lump all our opponents into a pile and label them liars or worse, we are part of the problem. If we don’t stop the slide and change the tone, we can never expect our representatives to.

[Rant Mode OFF]

Terry

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3 thoughts on “Politics as usual must stop”

  1. Well said, Terry. I didn’t vote for Mr. Obama, and I don’t like his stand on my pet topics of gun control and abortion. However, there are more urgent issues out there – stabilizing the economy, dealing with the war in the Middle East, just to name two – that must be dealt with. I have no intention of jostling the president’s elbow while he gets on with his job and deals with these issues.

    JR

  2. hear hear.

    The news networks have thier bias, but remember their motive isn’t reporting, it’s advertising revenue. Sensationalism and divisive rhetoric and red-faced pundits screaming at each other and throwing around vitriolic invectives draws viewers and viewers mean ad revenue.

    The media does not have the public interest at heart, they have a profit motive. It’s entertainment, and Bill O”Reiley and Lou Dobbs both are quite entertaining for their loyal viewers. Honest, impartial, information-based journalism is not what drives profits, sensationalism is. As long as people’s political views are shaped by entertainers in suits, this problem will only worsen.

  3. You know what Terry, I may have said you’re a bit dogmatic at times, but that’s not to say I don’t ever agree with you! In this matter, I definitely do. Don’t think that this issue is limited to US politics though – we’re experiencing it on my side of the world, and it’s rampant in the UK as well. (And I can only assume there are other democracies around the world suffering from it). Such intense applications of partisanship from ‘the top down’ sends the message that this type of behaviour and adversarial attitude is acceptable, even desirable. And it starts to permeate more than just politics – workplaces succumb, culture wars are ignited (once again!) and blatant intolerance becomes acceptable on a broad scale. For the past 12 years in AUS we suffered from exteme partisanship – it really was ‘you’re either with us, or against us’.
    We also have ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ mainstream media and they definitely push certain types of ideological barrows. But as far as political essays and other forms of writing goes, (here) we’re starting to see a slow, tentative shift back to a more egalitarian view, which is a positive thing. One can only hope that this is a reflection of a general understanding among the people that ‘black and white’/ ‘it’s my way or the highway’ opinions are not productive. This hasn’t, however, been reflected in our parliament, which is as adversarial and as full of bull as it’s always been. But maybe, like you say Terry, this is the impetus for change and our respective governments will eventually become representative of the people, as they were originally intended to be.
    The other issue here to consider is that what affects the US economy, or the UK economy, or the German, Japanese and Chinese economies, affects us all. If the US doesn’t sort out its worries, then the rest of the world will take longer to recover – ditto for all the other major players. We all around the world have a vested interest in the failure of those who employ zealot-like partisanship tactics, and the success of those who want to work together to fix this giant mess!

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