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.