The Politics of Hate

Politics.

Just that word is enough to send people into a tizzy.  For some, it’s an engaging, complex experience in which ideas face off in the public arena and we are all better for it.  For others, it’s a tedious bore and something they really don’t care for except in the vague sense that they generally hate politicians and consider them all roughly the same.

But here’s one thing I absolutely cannot understand: why is it acceptable to disrespect and dismiss the opinions of those who disagree with you, or even come to loathe them and view them as evil human beings?

Is this what passes for political rhetoric in this question?  If you didn’t draw the same conclusions as me, you’re some kind of sociopath?

Obama Socialism Picture

Some hard-hitting political analysis, right here.

How is this acceptable?  How is this even in our best interest?  Should countries only be full of like-minded people who share cultural beliefs?  Is there no wiggle room?

For instance, let’s look at one of the most hot-button issues that makes people utterly insane: abortion.  For me, of course, it’s a little easier to stay detached because I conveniently lack a uterus, but the point remains the same: both sides feel the other side is patently absurd and, perhaps, evil.

On one side, we have the pro-lifers.  In this view, all (human) life is sacred.  To destroy an embryo is essentially to commit murder.  Whether or not that embryo can feel pain or is self-aware or if the woman was sexually assaulted is irrelevant.  To them, this is nothing but sacred life, and anyone who would consider destroying it (or even giving women the right to destroy it if they choose) is utterly insane and devoid of morality.

On the other side, we have (myself included) the pro-choicers.  In this view, a woman’s body is her own dominion.  And it doesn’t matter if it’s an embryo or a tumor; she has a right to perform whatever medical procedures she wants.  And a great many of these people are personally opposed to abortion, but refuse to tell women what they can or cannot do with their bodies.

So one side views the other as a bunch of over-sexed maniacs who just constantly get pregnant and abort fetuses because hey, who cares, right?  And on the other side, we have people viewing their opponents as sadistic and arrogant fools who think it’s perfectly acceptable to demand a woman carry a baby conceived during a sexual assault to term because hey, that’s what God wants, right?

If these are the choices, then it’s no wonder we can only view the other side with dismissal and possibly even hate.  There’s no possible compromise here.  There’s no middle ground, it seems.  You’re either with me or a murderer.  You either agree with me or you want to claim power over my body.

The point isn’t who is right or wrong.  I have a very strong opinion on this personally, but as much as I may not ever agree with the pro-lifers, I think it’s extremely important to understand where they’re coming from and treat their opinions as legitimate anyway.

You don’t win debates by dehumanizing your opponent.  You don’t convince people of your point by declaring them enemy combatants.

I know people view the leaders of the opposition party as a Freemasons-style organization conspiring only to subvert the will of free thinking peoples, but I don’t buy it. This is a wildly cynical view, and I just don’t believe people who devote their life to public service are spending their entire lives to pulling a fast one over their constituents because they’re a bunch of evil jerks.

Is it not possible to disagree with Barack Obama’s policies without calling him a socialist or making a borderline racist reference to his middle name?  Can we not disagree with George W. Bush’s policies without calling him a murderer or accusing him of war crimes?

Bush Hitler picture

Ah, yes, they’re pretty much the same person.

I am a shameless liberal.  But I know some very intelligent small-government conservatives whom I respect.  And I refuse to spread the propaganda which states that all Republicans are idiots who want to suppress women and minorities and increase the wealth gap.

We’re all Americans, whether you like it or not.  Maybe if we spent a little less time vilifying our political opponents and a little more time trying to have legitimate political discussions, we wouldn’t be in such a vitrolic election cycle in which it seems nothing is possible.

Our politicians, after all, are just a reflection of us.  They carry our hate for us.  They make dismissive claims about their opponents because that’s exactly what we feel.  We view our opponents are stupid or worse yet, evil.  We’re so unwilling to move from our own belief systems that we simply refuse to believe that a reasonable adult could believe otherwise.

I think Republicans make some good points about tough spending cuts and trying to make Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security last.  I think Democrats make some good points about needing to curb Defense spending in a bloated budget.

But if we can’t view our opponents’ claims as legitimate, then how can we expect our politicians to compromise?  How can we be surprised when another death-defying budget tightrope act begins?

You don’t have to agree with everybody.  You don’t even have to respect every opinion as equally valid and worthy.

But you need to understand that every human being, no matter how misguided, has a right to their beliefs, and every attempt you make to dehumanizing them and tear them down doesn’t uplift you.  It just drags us all further down into the cesspool of politics.

And quite frankly, I don’t blame anybody for shaking their head in disgust and saying “Why bother.”

 

 

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