I wish I could sit down today and write about something as frivolous as my new car. New car! Shiny, exciting, electric, fun! Well: perhaps I will write about her (him? we haven’t decided yet) in a few weeks, but today my mind is preoccupied with darker thoughts.
Often, when I’m contemplating what to write about in my blog, I ask myself “what’s juicy?” Not juicy, as in gossipy, but what is resonating with me? What seems most relevant and present?
To the detriment of my usual positive outlook, what’s front and center for me right now is politics. We are in the Ugly Season. Fear mongering. Hate. Distrust. Vitriol. I can’t deny it’s getting to me. A lot of people say they don’t like political stuff in their social media feed. Are you really gonna sway opinions with a link to Huffington Post? Aren’t you just preaching to the choir? While I don’t think that overdosing on politics is good for me, one thing I will say about politics on Facebook is that it allows me to peer into the ‘other side’ via my conservative friends.
I’m a liberal. I own it. I believe in equal rights for all, affordable healthcare and education, and that the government should reasonably regulate business for the protection of the consumer and the environment. While there are a handful of conservative ideals that appeal to me (simplifying the tax code? yes please), I cannot think off the top of my head of a single republican candidate that I’ve voted for. So you can correctly peg me as a lefty, Boulder County, tree hugging, electric car driving, progressive, Feel the Bern stereotype.
Here’s what I don’t get.
What has Barack Obama done that is so abhorrent to the right? You disagree with his policies. Your political philosophies are different. I get it. But why do you HATE him so much? When I see friends in my Facebook feed post things about Obama that are brimming with disgust and contempt, I cannot help but be stumped by how they see this man so differently than I do. Even though my friends and I may share common interests in music, or sports, or upbringing and childhood, somewhere… somehow… two roads diverged in a political wood, and we found ourselves on two very separate paths.
The default conservative response to this is usually: well, you liberals love to hate the right. Look at how you treated George W Bush!
Point taken, and I agree.
Even though I was no fan of Bush or most of his policies, vitriol doesn’t look any more appealing to me when it’s coming from the side that I’m on. Both extremes of the political spectrum are so caught up in shouting, they’ve forgotten how to talk. Nothing ever gets worked out through hate. Which isn’t my way of saying “All You Need is Love.” It means that governing… which is what politics is supposed to be about… means working things out with the other side and leading. How can anything be worked out when the “dialog” between sides consists of nothing but "FUCK YOU!!!"
One of the strongest motivators to write this entry was a video my friend posted in which a very angry old man called our president a “total pussy” on Fox News. While I suppose there is some amusement value in watching a person drop profanity on live TV, I found myself stunned. The host didn’t bother to interrupt the guy. He waited until the rant was complete and gently chided him by saying “we can’t use that kind of language.”
I mean-- am I crazy?? This is the president of our country we’re talking about. Does respect for our highest office only apply when you voted for him? This is a guy who has one of the most thankless jobs in the universe and he’s done it, in my opinion, with a tremendous amount of grace, even if you don’t agree with him. This guy is to politics what Jackie Robinson was to baseball. He has endured the most difficult circumstances, with the ugliest kind of commentary raining down on him day after day, and (again) in my opinion, performed very well.
What in God’s name ever happened to civility??
I don’t need to take the time to list the things the man has accomplished. Lists like that are easily found. I don’t want to get into racial stuff. Maybe it’s not racial, even though a lot of the time, it sure feels like it is. What I guess I really wanna say is that the hate, the rage, the contempt-- it doesn’t look good on anyone. It looks scary. It’s why Trump rallies unsettle me so much. There are that many people who will cheer a guy that thinks most Mexicans crossing the border are rapists? Who wants to ban all Muslim immigration because two extremist Muslims committed a horrific crime?
Hate. Xenophobia. Suspicion. Division. It is frightening to me that so many are drawn it. I don’t want to dwell on it, but I can’t help it. It’s playing out right now, in front of our eyes.
I decided, in an effort to comfort myself, that I would text one of my staunchest conservative friends and see if he had anything positive to say about Barack Obama or his presidency. I sent the text and waited. Soon, I saw the iPhone text bubbles appear as he tapped his reply:
“He killed bin Laden.”
A good old fashioned Navy Seal, Storm the Compound, Zero Dark Thirty Covert Op to take out the bad buy.
Fuck bin Laden.
It’s good to know there are still some things all Americans can agree on.