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"You couldn’t really ask for a clearer contrast of character, of views, of values. At the very least, there seems ample reason to turn every sitting Republican officeholder in Ohio out into the street at the first opportunity simply on principles of good government. But that would mean going against the Tribe. It would mean supporting The Other Side, those no-good, America-hating, double-talking, high-taxing, draft-dodging, gay-marrying secular elites. And rest assured, no matter what they do, no matter what they say, those folks ain’t like us."
There goes Rob again, talking out his ass.
But here again, I happen to agree with him. When I look at the heart and soul of party politics I see hatred of the "other" as the one unifying theme. Nevermind that I can read through a right winger's screed on what I supposedly stand for and not see an ounce of truth in it. It doesn't matter. Whether the bad guys are real or not is irrelevant. Fictionalized liberals and commie leftists are just as good as real ones. Better even, because then you can always just assume that those normal people you meet on the street are just like you, and that those "evil people" are just around the corner. Or even better (and I direct this comment towards some of the yahoos on eschaton's comment board) that everyone who lives elsewhere is stupid and backward.
But the sad fact of the matter is that "those people" are all around you. My feelings are that most of us share many of the same goals and values. We all want to be safe, we all want prosperity and justice, we want a fair society where we are all treated with respect. But we sometimes disagree on how to get there and sometimes, about who gets these things.
In many ways partisan politics is a divide that keeps many of us from working together for a common goal. I'm a firm believer in political independence. Right now, I can't find much in the Republican party that I can agree with, though occassionally, I'll find myself agreeing with a Republican point of view. It doesn't happen often, but for instance, this morning I was listening to an interview with Rick Santorum. I could agree with his basic premise that corporate America's insatiable need to fuel profit drives some of the more crass products that we are exposed to. But I can't agree with his assertion that this is part of an anti-family liberal agenda. That idea seems ludicrous when I think about the good hearted liberals I know who are trying to make our culture better for families and kids. He comes across as a man who wants to make the world a better place but is constrained by his partisan need to blame everything on his political enemies. From that partisan-led assumption then comes a host of wrong conclusions. So its not radical feminists that are forcing women into the workplace to forsake their families, its the increasing need for two incomes and the desire by many women to have the independence that work provides for them. Despite what Santorum might think, its not strident support for a radical feminist agenda that leads most women to seek their own employment. So denouncing those feminists will not solve the problem.
I understand this desire to blame our political enemies, and sometimes I fall victim to it myself. Its easier to blame someone for what's wrong than it is to engage them in debate. I often try (and you'll have to take my word for it) to give reasons why I disagree with someone, rather than just calling them names. Though sometimes, in my frustration I'll do the latter. But I hope that somewhere along the way I have tried to engage the issue before resorting to name calling.
(I confess a weakness for creationists, who despite my best efforts, I find nearly intolerable in their wrongheadedness. I respect science too much to take them seriously.)
I think most days I wish that there were no political parties, or at least more to choose from. That seems more American in spirit to me. Candidates would run on their own convictions and we would decide based on the issues, regardless of the capital letter next to their name.
As it stands it really is a world in which "you're either with us or against us."
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