The other day I reacted a little harshly to one of the comments posted by a reader—if I offended the writer, I apologize—I regret having resorted to attacking someone for expressing a differing opinion. I don’t agree with their opinion, but rather than just shout it down, I should try to understand that viewpoint and then offer an explanation, so, here it is…
First the understanding. Lately, I’ve been listening to some conservative talk radio—some, mind you—if it was all I listened to, I would have had a heart attack or stroke by now. Anyway, what I’ve found (after you get past a degree of anger that makes the dark side of the force look like the Socratic method, and lying that would make a Mexican street vendor blush), is pure, unfettered hate in the form of labeling.
On right wing radio, Obama is some kind of a horrible Marxist, fascist, communist, socialist, monarchical messiah who’s more corrupt than Bush and isn’t even from this country. All Democrats are all just awful people, especially the ones that have the nerve to speak up. For instance, Elizabeth Warren is a stupid whore that has spent her entire life filling her students’ heads with mush, according to Limbaugh. And the Democratic way of life is to be a secular, gambling, drug-addicted, alcoholic, philandering bi-sexual hippy, whose vegetarian, elitist, and wants to suck off the government’s teat for free and steal as much money from honest Americans as possible.
The scary part is, I’m not really exaggerating here, at all. This is what right wing radio consists of: pure labeling and hate directed at anyone who is on the left or identifies themselves as a Democrat.
Now, the people that actually believe this stuff wholeheartedly are basically sub-human monsters (you like that labeling, you right wing bitches), incapable of thinking for themselves or understanding basic ideas about government and politics. They are Reevers (see “Firefly”—no really, see it, it’s good, and the Reevers are a perfect foil for the kind of degeneration of humanity that these people stand for), and there is nothing anyone can really do about that.
However I think there are a lot of very good and reasonable people that listen to right wing radio because: A) they’re interested in politics, and B) it’s available, far more so than left wing radio. My guess is that these people, having listened to this stuff, develop a political philosophy that looks something like this:
The Democrats are awful people that are doing bad things, because that is all I hear, and even if these hosts go too far, or I don’t agree with everything they say, it can’t be completely wrong. On the other hand, I also know that I don’t actually like what the Republicans are doing—in fact I’m not even sure what they stand for other than being against the Democrats, and it is clear that our government is no longer functioning, on top of which there’s a bad economy. Therefore, both political parties are at fault. All politicians are bad.
And partially because the Democrats are ineffective communicators, and partially because the mainstream media doesn’t lay any political blame at the feet of those responsible for government malfeasance, this view that all politicians are bad, that both parties are equally at fault, is confirmed by their day to day experiences. Moreover, when some Democrats do stupid things, or act like Republicans, it throws a wrench in liberal support as well, so that being angry at all politicians, and at both parties, actually seems pretty rational.
With this understanding in mind, I’ll admit, I am way too harsh on these people—after all, if all you heard everyday was how awful something was, it would be very hard, even for a strong willed individual, to think of that something in any kind of positive light. It would be like asking someone to read the Harry Potter series from beginning to end and contend afterward that Voldemort wasn’t all that bad of a guy.
The problem, however, is that in this case, the viewpoint that both parties are at fault for our problems, and that all politicians are bad, is just wrong.
Look, I don’t hate the Republicans because I hear them labeled as bad people everyday—I hate them because their policies are going to further cripple our economy. I don’t hate the Republicans because I want to be a cheerleader for the left—I hate them because they stand in the way of progress at every turn. I don’t hate the Republicans because I’m a Democrat—I hate them because I can’t remember the last time they actually passed legislation that was intended to help regular people. I hate the Republicans because they distort the truth in order to prevent our government from working, because they want to deny the government enough funding to function, because they attack minorities, teachers, unions, women, and the poor with their policies. I don’t hate Republicans because they’re Republicans, I hate them because I disagree profoundly with their beliefs, tactics, and motives. In short, I hate the Republicans because I disagree with them politically, because I don’t agree with their platform, because they don’t believe in science or human progress, and because they are primarily responsible for leaving our economy in its present and shitty form. I hate Republicans because when it’s all said and done, I love this country, but it needs a lot of help, and quite frankly, they don’t have any answers.
So honestly, while there are some bad Democrats out there, and there are definitely some things the Democratic party does that I don’t agree with, they are nowhere near deserving of equal blame for the dysfunction of our political system. Unfortunately, given how the media is controlled, and the constant drone of the hate machine on the right, there are a lot of very good and reasonable Americans that believe exactly that.