Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sick of being polite

One might not realize it in reading some of the older posts on this blog but, I am really a diminishing guy when it comes to discussing politics. Typically the extent of my conversation is to only ask for clarification from someone who has just spouted something political out of their mouth. Or, more commonly, to say nothing at all. My thinking has been that nothing I will say will convince those who disagree with me of my views and there's no point in going 'round with someone of like mind. In both cases, I have to wonder what's the point?

Well, one reason to reply is sanity. Being liberal and progressive, I tend to look for a better way, a smarter way for my nation. Conservatives do what they've always done, look for any reason to cling to the past. Another aspect of the current batch of conservatives that we have in the US today is that they are willfully ignorant. In the face of contradictory facts, they refuse to reconsider their conclusions.

Take the birthers. For years these delusional people have clung to the idea that Obama is an illegitimate president because he was not born in the US. Initially, this was a legitimate question to pursue. Obama makes not secret of the fact that his father was Kenyan and he spent some of his schoolboy years overseas. So, a check into the state's records to see if he was, in fact, born in the US was something worth looking into. Unfortunately - or fortunately if you are someone who wants to willfully cling to the appearance of truth that a myth can produce - the state of Hawaii destroyed their paper birth certificates some years back. The government went to an entirely electronic method of keeping those records. So, the "original" birth certificate of Barack Obama isn't available. Nevermind that legal proof exists in the form of those electronic state's records. Also, nevermind that the state repeatedly and opening provided those records as part of the normal course of business to anyone that requested it. That is it did until the requests started coming so fast and frequently that the office couldn't keep up, let alone take care of any other business. So, in the face of undeniable evidence, these birthers like flat-earth believers of moon-landing conspiracy theorists, cling to the idea that Obama is an illegitimate president.

So what, right? There are crazies at the fringe of every party or movement, isn't there? Yes, there is but, what sets apart today's conservative movement is that the birther belief, like a stalwart religion, infects right to the core. Where other fringe beliefs stay on the fringes, the conservative party embraces them. Members of the movement, from nationally syndicated TV and radio personalities to elected officials at every level from local mayors to members of both houses, openly and often bring up the question of the president's legitimacy based on the birther myth. In spite of the fact that contrary evidence exists and they have undoubtedly been presented with it, they willfully cling to this ignorance.

Bringing up the idea that the problems that plague us exist in both parties presents another aspect of the current political debate that drives me up the wall. The two party system that has grown up in the US gives us the idea, perhaps even compels us to search for a sense of balance. Both parties are corrupt. Voting is a choice of the lesser of two evils. There is no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties. This false equivalence creates an easy excuse for lazy political awareness. If there is no real difference between the parties, would possible reason would one have to be engaged in the debate.

I will admit that the two parties begin with very similar cores. The two modern political parties in the US are corporatist and are competing for power. This is the money in elections issue. Politicians on both sides have to kiss corporate ass in order to get reelected. But, beyond that horrible truth, the parties are very different. Republican politicians, once they reach a point of power do nothing to help the collective lives of their constituents. Civil rights and the quality of life simply don't come up on their radar screens. They have grand, libertarian-light theories about creating a laissez-faire atmosphere for big business that will eventually create jobs.

This creates a party where it is okay, even comfortable to be racist, homophobic. It creates an atmosphere that allows hate. It doesn't matter if one group or another suffers because this doesn't affect the lives of the corporations. And, creating divisions based on hate and differences is a great way to drive votes during elections. If I can scare you about the horde of Mexicans coming to take our jobs and marry our daughters, then you will vote for me when I promise to protect you from that horde.

So, what does all of this have to do with my sanity? I can't not speak up any more. It has nothing to do with saving the nation or anything grand like that. I hope for these things but, they are really out of my control. It is about the individuals in my life who choose this willful ignorance and align themselves with an organization that demonstrably has the opposite of their best wishes at heart.

I must have an outlet. I can no longer keep quiet in the interest of politeness.

I realize that this is kind of lame to have gone on so in defense of bickering politics online but, it is a big deal to me. Yesterday, after getting three separate entries in the Top News feed on my facebook page that were clear examples of this willful igornace, I kind of lost my mind. I deleted my freindships with the posters, one of whom is one of my oldest real-life friends. Then I thought to myself, fuck this, I'm not going to put up with this shit anymore. Then I posted this:

Feeling a little pissy tonight. Borrowed from my fb friend and colleague Danilo: The Republican Party and their Tea Party pals are racist, homophobic hatemongers. Anyone who remotely disagrees with this basic statement of fact should immediately unfriend me.

Danilo posted this on his page a couple of months ago and I remember admiring him and wishing that I had his courage. I wholeheartedly agree with this, as harsh as it might sound. But, I was intimidated to post it, or even a watered down version of it on my wall, for fear of offending.

Disagree? Try this. Name one piece of legislation introduced by a Republican since 2000 that specifically, not theoretically, improved the lives of individual Americans. Or, name one piece of legislation that came out of the right that sought to protect the civil rights of any group. This time frame gives you the period of greatest Republican power in recent memory. During this period Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, the White House and even the Supreme Court so if they were really interested in doing anything these things, this is when they would have done it.

(Here's a related exercise that might strike closer to home for conservatives. What's your pet issue? What's that one thing that, above everything else, keeps you in or at least aligned with the Republican party? Is it abortion? Is it gun rights? Is it fiscal conservatism? Okay, then, name one piece of legislation presented by the party during that time that sought to move things in a direction you'd like to see them go on that issue. You can't. And this was the period during which your party had the greatest power. Still believe that they have your interests at heart?)

I'm done with not trying to offend. Why should conservatives get to shout their made-up facts from the mountain tops and I don't. I will begin, now, calling lies lies. I don't really believe that I can make any real change by having a few arguments. But, at least I won't have to swallow all that horse-shit anymore.

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