Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bigotry today

I suppose we have always been cursed with bigotry.  Bigotry is pre-judging people, prejudice, based upon how they are in a different grouping than we are.  There is racial bigotry, of course, and although it is still with us, it is definitely less than it was 50 years ago, I know because I was there 50 years ago.

But, there is a newly very powerful bigotry in America today – political bigotry.  A recent study measured how people’s view of others is tainted.  They found residual racial bigotry, but were surprised to discover that “partyism”, prejudice based upon party identification , to have risen radically over the last 50 years. 

In 1960 about 5% of people said they would be “displeased” if a child were to marry someone of the opposite party.  Today, one third of Democrats and one half of Republicans would be displeased if a child married a member of the opposite party.  Kind of shocking.

It reflects the terrible partisan divides in the country today, and it reflects how the Congress cannot find compromises when it comes to running the country.  It reflects a fundamental problem in the country, good old fashioned bigotry, the refusal to see those unlike yourself to be respectable human beings.

This is especially sad to me because in my many years on the planet I have been both a left wing and right wing true believer, and I was wrong both times, and I was a good person both times.  Wrong because the world of the true believer is one that knows all the answers to all the problems, just apply the orthodox ideology to all situations and oppose anyone who doesn’t agree, and viola… life is simple, it’s the good people against the bad people.  But, of course, that is nonsense.

It’s really about tribalism.  Wanting to belong to the right tribe.  Racism is obvious, our tribe against your tribe.  Partyism is the same thing, our tribe against your tribe.

It is certainly no accident that more right wingers are bigoted than left wingers – right wingers are under the spell of hate radio and hate news.  All day every day they are bombarded with the evils of liberalism.  They are propagandized into a level of distrust that reaches into paranoia.  It is a very toxic environment that we live in today, and we are seeing the fruits of that toxicity in dysfunctional government.

Sad indeed.  My hope is for passionate and moderate voices in both parties, but especially in the Republican Party, to emerge.  It is not happening in this election, but it has a chance to emerge in 2016.  Shoot, Carter ran on a post partisan platform, as did W (a uniter not a divider) , and did Obama (we aren’t a red nation or a blue nation but we are one nation). 

The moderation pitch appeals to us, elects presidents, but the war drums in the right wing media pound away, dividing, dividing.

To paraphrase a great man… I have a dream:  that we live in a nation where people are judged by the content of their character, not the …political tribe they belong to.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fear mongering

I find the elections to be pretty depressing.  We are in full campaign mode and the country is being forced into artificial panics as part of campaign strategies.

The chances of getting Ebola for the general population about the same as getting hit by a meteor, but the Republicans have escalated the fear in this country to ridiculous proportions as a way to attack a Democratic president and get out the vote. 

And the media escalates the fear, of course, because the more afraid we all are of dying, the more we will breathlessly watch the latest minutes of fear mongering on TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, etc.  Depressing to me.

Islamist extremists know that the best way to gain credibility amongst bloody minded jihadists is to compete amongst themselves to be the most brutal jihadists.  Plus, their strategy is to bait the U.S. into invading Muslim countries.  That’s what bin Laden did, and it’s what ISIL is doing.  It makes them seem important, and does wonders for recruitment into their religious wars.  I’m sure we have to respond to some degree, but the knee jerk Republican critique of anything the administration does is not helpful.  I’m old enough to remember when the political rule in the country was that politics stopped at the border, meaning the country had one voice, as much as was humanly possible, when it came to overseas military issues.  Wanting to drag the country into the civil and religious wars in the Middle East seems to be a very bad idea to me.  But, it’s election time so attack, attack, attack.

I will be glad when this election is over, but, oh yes, there is another election “right around the corner” so, fear monger, fear monger, fear monger...raise campaign contributions, get out the vote, demonize the opposition, keep the country in a continual state of agitation…depressing.

I think I may just ignore the media, even more than I have recently, until the election is over.