Intelligent Discourse, People!

I don’t often get political here–and technically I’m still not, although Goddess knows there will be some who jump on my shit from this post simply because they will not READ what I write, but ASSUME.  I get that–I don’t get WHY, but I get that.  But I don’t normally do this, and have been backing off of political stuff in general because of what I have been seeing.  The vitriol and violence and basic lack of respect have REALLY forced me into a survival mode of sorts.  But anyway…



What this does NOT mean:

    • I  believe anyone who votes republican is an asshole

What this DOES mean:

  • I believe in everyone getting a chance, even if that means getting a little help.
  • I believe in change–often rapid and painful.

NOW–before you threaten me with ovarian cancer or waterboarding, please look at that I said.  Do NOT place words in my mouth.  I did not use the word “change” there as code.  I have been using this term as a tag for liberalism LONG before a certain someone chose it as his campaign slogan.

Background:  I was a history teacher for 7+ years.  I taught Government for the last 3–although any self respecting teacher of history teaches always teaches government, really.    But I would often break up the political spectrum  to its simplest form as such:

  • Conservatives like to maintain the status quo, keeping things in order. They embrace tradition.
  • Liberals like to mix things up and bring about change with the times. They embrace the future.

Now, I have said nothing negative here, although there are those who would read it as such.  But here is my argument: in a society we need both a love of tradition and of the future. Peace USUALLY occurs somewhere in the middle.

Example:  if we only had a world that only embraced tradition, I wouldn’t even be able to vote.  If we had a world that only embraced the future, we might lose out on all human interaction, and life might be devalued in the name of science.

See what I’m getting at here–the middle path.  There is no clean cut easy answer.  Life at best is messy and complicated with multiple layers of understanding.  It is full of contradictions.  Says the liberal woman staying home in a traditional woman’s role.

Now take a moment to notice something–there is nothing here about republican or democrat.  OR socialist or Nazi.  As I taught the lesson, we would apply these views to the political parties along a spectrum and the students would realize they reside somewhere along that spectrum–some more right or left, most of us squarely in the middle.  We would examine our own personal ideals and then find which party best represents our own views–not have the party define for us what our views should be.

Many of my students were often shocked to find themselves identifying as Republicans. Not a shock to me, really.  I taught in underprivileged areas where the future was uncertain–hell, where the next DAY was uncertain.  Embracing what had been–what was safe and predictable can be a natural state of being in those situations.

But they also found out that their “political” views did not always encompass one party–because that is what life is like.  There isn’t the “Dawn party”–and if some of you knew what was going on inside my head, you’d be thankful.  And some of you’d be “fuck yeah!” But most of you would say, “hmm, I agree with this but not that.”

My goal was usually to get them thinking about where they stand.  That is all.  I was not trying to recruit young liberals.  I was not trying to brainwash young republicans.  I would try with all my might to conceal my own views.  Successful? Hardly.  But what I WOULD share were my internal conflicts to show that as an adult, it STILL isn’t crystal clear.  that every issue required examination and thought.

And when a student would express hyperbolic language clearly entrenched in one camp or another–I would call them out on it.  as a class we would discuss and examine, to try and establish that there is no one right answer.  Other than respect one another and try not to hurt people.  (and if that view makes me some sort of boogeyman–then I will jump out of closets every night to defend it)

So,  imagine my dismay,  my horror at what I see on the news, on Facebook, on my city streets when it comes to the presidential race, healthcare, immigration, etc etc.  Is it honest and intelligent discourse?  Not what I’ve seen.

You know what I’ve seen?

  • name calling
  • threats of violence
  • outright LIES masked as news or truth
  • threats of violence
  • extreme polarization

Please notice something.  I did NOT say which side is perpetrating what.  Nor am I going to.  Because THAT argument would just add to the polarization, and I refuse to be a part of it.

See, here’s the thing.  I have beliefs.  Beliefs that you may not agree with.  Just as you have beliefs that I may not even begin to fathom.  But AT NO POINT do I want to claim you have less intelligence as me, or that I hope some horrible wasting disease falls upon you simply because of that belief. I may question why you think that way, and even engage in lively debate.  At no point in that debate though, would I imply that I have a weapon and would use it.  Do you see what I’m getting at here?

And maybe what I find important doesn’t even register to you.  I’m sorry–that DOESN’T make me a moron.  It makes me human.  Issues like women’s health and abortion are first and foremost on my plate.  Gay marriage rights are right behind that.  Because that’s what I find important.  Immigration issues and taxes are further down my list.  This doesn’t make me unamerican.  On the contrary.  Most people in this country vote based on the issue that is first and foremost in their mind.  But threatening me with violence or wishing disease upon me because of the issues on which I base my political decisions ISN’T intelligent discourse–it’s simply name-calling because my thought processes are not the same as yours.  How is that any different from religious intolerance? (another topic I am LOATHE to discuss)

Call me an ape.  Call me misguided.  Tell me that you don’t think I have examined the issues fully.  Hell, HATE me and everything I stand for.  But do NOT threaten to rape, kill or maim.  And yes–those are threats I have seen based simply on verbal discourse.  And do NOT tell me, “well the [other side] said the same thing.”  SO?  We are not 12 and tit for tat is for children.  Meeting threats of violence with more threats of violence is immature and ridiculous.

I get that people are angry–that unemployment is a serious issue.  That people feel like their world is coming apart.  And I get how that makes people want to lash out at others.  But here’s the thing.  Government isn’t “us” against “them”–it’s simply “us”.  The power of those in government comes from us.  And the more divided we are–the more power they can grab.  The less we are unable to have respectful and intelligent discourse, the more those in power can manipulate us for their own uses.

So.  Don’t waste my time telling me that Democrats are as bad as Republicans, or that the president is leading us on a path toward Socialism.  And don’t inundate me with the idiocy of the actions of the the tea party, or the war on women, or how Bush led us here in the first place.  As an intelligent, informed and capable adult, you will pardon me if I make these decisions MYSELF.  Based on what I believe and find to be important in my life.  I will not engage in hyperbolic language and fear mongering.  And if that makes me a coward, “unwilling to defend” myself, then paint me yellow, because I will be DAMNED if I am going to jump into an argument with someone simply because they are outraged at my personal choices.

Because you know what else I believe?  That if you act rationally and with intelligence, and refuse to engage an uncompromising fool shouting nonsense, eventually the intelligent rational argument will win. Does that make me naive?  Maybe.  But it’s MY belief, and I really don’t care what a name-calling bully has to say about it.

ps.  GODS will I be happy when this election cycle is over…

Categories: Snark | 17 Comments

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17 thoughts on “Intelligent Discourse, People!

  1. I like your chart. Oh, and all 3 guys at the bottom have facial hair. Coincidence??? I think not.

    People that resort to name-calling should maybe not be entitled to a vote, like a penalty for misconduct. If you can’t play nice, stay out of the sandbox.

    • you know what–i got no problem with honest to god name calling–i am just as guilty of it. But as much as certain members of the Republican party get on my nerves, i do NOT wish ass cancer upon them. But i will call them asshats from time to time.

      And i do love a man with facial hair…

      • Right, I don’t get the extremes that people feel driven to when debating politics. It goes from “you’re an idiot” to “you should die” in seconds.

        Geez people, WWJLD?? (What would John Lennon do?)

    • also–i wish i had come up with that chart. Totally stole it from another site. MUCH cooler than the stupid line graph i used in the classroom

  2. confessionsfromhh6

    As a moderate, I’ve just stayed out of most of it. It’s not worth being called names by both sides because I might agree or disagree per issue. Which is odd for me because I love to talk politics, but this cycle, I honestly really dislike the majority of our politicians and what they’re selling (to paint a broad stroke). And the primaries always piss me off that I’m forced to choose a party. I don’t agree with any of them really, and which primary I’d like to vote in really depends on who they’ve put up for us ot choose from.

    • I’m trying to stay out of it too–but you’re right. this cycle is for the birds. the violent rhetoric is frankly frightening. I taught about moments like this in history. it makes me a little nervous…

  3. I have pretty much always liked Keith even though he has no facial hair – at least last time I paid any attention. When the political fighting hits Nick Jr. between Kai Lan (clearly a liberal show) and Dino Dan (probably more conservative based on the criteria of this post) then I might pay attention. Otherwise, I might have a stroke. 😉

  4. This is much more interesting and insightful than anything my HS history teacher ever taught me. And he NEVER used charts. Shame on him.

    Rock on.

  5. YES!





  6. I’ve noticed how people go from 0 to 60 over just about anything. Add politics to the mix and its a bloody tinder box. I don’t know what’s wrong with people and were basic civility has gone.

  7. Ahhh…like a breath of fresh air over here. People get so emotional – not about important issues – but about mere labels. And things go to name calling so quickly, it throws me off guard.

  8. I love this. I hate all the political hollering and bellyaching where nothing gets done, just so the fingers can point across the aisle. The art of politics is compromise, not screaming.

  9. People aren’t happy unless they are complaining. If it weren’t this it would be something else. I can really identify with this article. I don’t vote. It’s a choice I made. I truly don’t want either candidate to take the presidential person of choice that I want for president hasn’t put his bid in. He’s stood up to all of congress. When he goes for it (as I believe he will) I’ll vote for him. BUT I don’t think people who vote are dumb. I just hate mean people. They suck.

    • mean people do suck. The only disease i wish upon them is a case of the sillies. (maybe it would dislodge that stick up there…)

  10. Isn’t it exciting though? Yes, there is unending negativity, particularly with the glorious anonymity of the Internet. But I do love that we’re all so excited about politics! And so divided! I waited in line 45 minutes to vote for president of this country in 2004. Also, I just found your blog and fell in love with it! (though I currently identify as libertarian.)

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