Can’t We All Just Get Along?


 

 

I want to say I never get into political discussions online. They often turn too nasty too quickly. But I can’t say “never,” because yesterday on Facebook, I wrote two, timid words:

 

Romney-Ryan?

 

And believe it or not, those two little words started a bit of a firestorm. Here are the comments:

 

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Comment #1: Looks like 4 more years. . .

 

Comment #2: Satan – Devil?

 

Comment #3: Ah, come on. Let’s not call names.

 

ME: Be nice, please. 🙂 I think we can disagree, even with passion, but I also think we can do it with respect.

 

Comment #4: With respect, Ryan is anti-women, anti-middle class, and old people.

 

Comment #5: Wow. Just. Wow. Well Obama hates rainbows. Prove he doesn’t.

 

Comment #6: This country is in horrible shape with a trillion dollar deficit per year, 1 in 6 on welfare, jobs going overseas, factories closing, cities going bankrupt, other countries becoming stronger than us, unemployment extremely high, healthcare a huge mess, “work” taken out of welfare, and on and on. How can people continue to defend this administration??? How can they want our country to continue spiraling downward? Don’t you want a business person who knows how to manage? Who knows about our free enterprise system? Who can balance a budget? Who believes in rewarding people who work hard? That’s why people flee to America, the land of opportunity. Btw, I’m one of those coveted independents. I was raised a democrat but am now married to a republican and we’re small business owners. I see what taxes we pay first-hand (a LOT). I see the jobs we provide, the healthcare we provide, the 401(k) plans we provide, the bonuses we give out in Dec to our employees so their families will have a nice Christmas. Guess you know who I’m voting for!

 

Comment #7: wow. and not a good wow.

 

Comment #8: Let me guess…

 

Comment #9: I have to say, I’m middle class, a woman and getting old. I was MUCH better off and had much more hope four and eight years ago. I’m all for “going backward” if it means restoring America to a land of people who strive to achieve without the hand (or interference) of government. I yearn to live in a country where government is not the determining factor of personal success. I believe that’s what our founding fathers intended.

 

Comment #10: What bitchy comments about Ryan.

 

ME: I feel a blog coming on . . .

 

And so, here I am, blogging about yet another situation where people who disagree about something don’t seem to be able to discuss it rationally, and instead, go straight to being ugly, even hateful about it. Some of the comments above were respectful. Some were not.

 

It makes me kind of sad. I like nothing more than a good, productive discussion/debate with someone with whom I differ, whether it’s politics, religion, culture, books, etc. But because discussing differences more often than not goes straight to hateful rhetoric, I avoid it. I don’t know if others feel they’re missing out, but I do.

 

Why can’t we differ or disagree without being hateful?

 

There’s not much in this world that I hate. But I hate hate.

 

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24 Responses to Can’t We All Just Get Along?

  1. I can see some of both sides. In the distant past government was not so pervasive as it is now. And I can see where that irritates people. Libertarianism is not the answer because the world is peopled wall-to-wall. There is no frontier to settle. We need umpires to paint the lines along the edge of the field, to write the rules that will allow us to live in harmony, and to see that the rules are followed. Those are government functions.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      I agree with you, Edward, about (to some extent) needing an umpire to paint the lines, write the rules. I suppose where many of us disagree, is where those lines should be drawn. Still, why can’t we discuss it civilly, without name calling?

  2. dawnall says:

    I agree. I have always loved debate but we have become polarized. I have always been a moderate who voted democrat part of the time and republican part of the time but now the two parties have gone to their extremes and it leaves moderates without a home. It’s sad. And why is it that everyone hates people instead of ideas?

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Dawn, I suppose we all get frustrated because we’re all so set in our ways, particularly because both parties have gone to their “extreme” sides, and the media plays on that. So, unfortunately, in the end, all many of us can think to do is come down hard with name calling and other forms of hate.

  3. Amen, Jan. Emotions run so high they blind us to reasoning. I hate that, and I also hate the hate. And I’m doing a blogpost relating to it, too.

  4. Glenn says:

    Sadly, America’s foundation is one of hatred. Americas first African American President has proven that America is in deed Racial and in fact not Post Racial. Not since the 60’s has America been so politically and racially polarized as well as religiously polarized. If you are poor, brown skinned person(i.e. African American, Latino) or, Muslim the hate is nothing new. What is new is the degree in which the projection of hatred is so freely meted.. Comment#6 is indicative of the hyperbole, innuendo, dog whistles and xenophobia that plague the discussion. Individuals confuse their opinion for facts. In my view Romney, and Ryan in particular, represents a form of regressive Movement Conservatism. But It is a “free” country in so much as one can vote for whom they chose. Hopefully a vote for Romney-Ryan is not influenced by hyperbole and innuendo.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Glenn, you are always clear and concise in what your write, and I appreciate your comments. True, much of America’s history contains actions based on hate and ignorance. And true, there is still some of that today. But, I in defense, I must ask, is it not okay to disagree with President Obama and his policies, just because he’s our first African American president? Why are many who disagree with him called racist? I recall some terrible, vitriolic things that were said about President Bush. Was that okay, just because he was white? We should be able to disagree with someone without being called a racist.

      I’ll agree that many, if not most of us resort to “sound bites” in forming our opinions, but regarding Comment #6, much of what was said was true and can’t be refuted. I found it interesting that no criticism was made on Comments #2 and #4. Were those not based on “hyperbole, innuendo, dog whistles and xenophobia?”

      As I said, i very much appreciate your comments. I think you and I may disagree politically, but I hope you know that you have my deepest respect for your ability to express your opinions, and in past “conversations,” I have learned a lot from you.

  5. Terry Alexander says:

    Some people only want to listen to your comments when it agrees to their way of thinking. They do not want to debate they only see their own views and believe that everyone should view the world as they do. I vote every election and I’ve urged the kids to do so, that way I’ve got the right to brag about helping a candidate get into office or complain about the terrible job that he or she is doing. No matter what your political standing, go vote, let your voice be heard.

  6. Jim says:

    Part of the problem is that we are being manipulated. Politicians and the media benefit by fanning the flames. It’s not a conspiracy. There are too many of them for that, but both groups too often give us just enogh information (too often incorrect) to push emotional buttons. Now that we have the Internet, it’s never been easier to misinform and rant. It’s never been faster or easier to overreact and pass along anger-inducing links, photos, and videos. Due to the annonymity of the Internet, it’s easy to say (shout, scream) things people would never say to someone’s face.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Thanks for commenting, Jim. I agree, the media and technology have played a big role in the disintegration of our communication. Like you said, it’s too easy to make an ugly comment when you don’t have to do it to someone’s face. Sad thing is, it’s every bit as hurtful.

  7. lindarigsbee says:

    I think Jim hit the nail on the head. Media and social networking are a large part of why we are aware of the hatred. I see so many people who have never learned to respect the rights and property of others in a way equal to their own. I suppose the cause could be that they are self-absorbed. Then there is the fear factor. Anger is an outward display of fear. We all feel empowered by a vote and a little frightened that if we don’t vote for the “right” person, the consequences will be tragic. Unfortunately, who ever we vote for president will have to deal with congress and the senate – and more. I think we lose sight of that sometimes.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Good points, Linda. I agree completely that anger is an outward display of fear. I’m writing a story now where a girl learns to turn and face her fears and finds there was nothing to fear after all. Too bad more of us don’t do that in the “real” world.

  8. That is a good question. I suppose it has to do with a poverty of words, a shallowness of opinions. We run out of things to support our opinion and go for the emotion.

    I often ask the same question.

  9. rgayer55 says:

    Well, you certainly opened a can of worms, Jan. I find that trying to have a discussion about politics is fruitless. People usually get worked up, and in the end, neither side is going to change their opinion. I just wish the politicians would be more aligned with the voter’s wishes and less worried about their “party.”

    • Jan Morrill says:

      It’s true, Russell, that we probably won’t change each other’s minds in leaps and bounds. But, I will say that when I HAVE been able to have ongoing, respectful conversations with friends of a different political persuasion, I have moved more to the center on certain issues. So, I think it’s worth continuing to try. I’m glad this subject has stirred discussion.

  10. Middlefield says:

    I think the anger is the manifestation of the frustration from having lost the ability to reason. It used to be a last resort, but now days people don’t know why they believe what they believe so they have to open with hate because that’s all they can back themselves up with. ..and if you don’t believe me then you’re an idiot! (funny or not, that last line was a joke). When I say people don’t know why they believe what they believe, it seems like people treat politics like sports teams – doesn’t matter who the players are (or in politics what the issue are), you support them because they wear your colors so you want them to win. Bill Maher once said (something to the effect of) if we were not told which party a politician belongs to, then most Americans would not know if they like him or not. Gone are the days of Greek dialectic philosophy to obtain better truth/knowledge, and gone is the Taoist yin/yang concept of balance requiring two opposing (views). People say they want diversity but obviously they cannot mentally handle it. It’s not that children are maturing faster, it’s that the adults are immature – creating the illusion of the children maturing faster – because a 12 year old is as “mature” as a 40 year old these days. All this hate in arguments shows only that words get their strength from the ideas they express – thus these bitter arguments fan the flames of perpetual empty thoughts and accomplish nothing.

  11. Glenn says:

    Jan, I appreciate your own honest criticisms. Sadly, the political dialogue of today consists of repetition of aphorisms, political slogans and newspaper headlines and is generally counter productive . Particularly, if debaters take the trouble to lay down the facts on which they reach, what at times seems to me, some remarkable conclusions, the debate would progress in an amicable manner. In my view there is a societal imperative to reject discriminatory and or hate speech regardless of rights to same and especially when said speech comes from those with influence and or power and or access to federal and or state legislators. Americas legacy of hate is used as political fodder by both sides and In times of harsh economics and extreme political polarization not only do Americas demons surface they are exploited.

    My comment was not intended to implicate racism in disagreements with the POTUS. That someone disagrees with the POTUS on policy in no way concludes that someone is racist. A point of clarity regarding dog whistles..Dog whistle politics are not limited to racially coded rhetoric but is a rather broad political campaigning that employs coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has a different or more specific meaning for a targeted subgroup of the audience. The audience can be women, men, big business, big labor, etc, the topic could be abortion, finance, religion, and yes race. My use of such was meant to be a broader reference.

    My statement that America is not post racial is actually independent of Presidential politics but was in reference to Americas societal reality. That being said I do contend that race bleeds into discussions about the POTUS. Examples of such include but are not limited to his origin of birth, questions regarding his citizenship and his religion and the false claims that he is a Muslim. For me the most deplorable of innuendos comes in the form of the absolute rejection in some circles that he is ” not one of us” and simply “not American” by visual inspection. In my view these are racists inferences. No other President in American history has been subjected to such vitriol and the aforementioned are beyond the pale of politics and in and of themselves driven by bigotry and hate. Disagreement on policy and questions regarding the POTUS religion and place/origin of birth unfortunately have intersected in many public and political venues. Disagreement on political ideology is not akin to claiming that the POUTS is Muslim and not a “real American”. The fact that said narrative regarding the POTUS(i.e. birth certificate, religion and ethnicity) has persisted for 4 years and in fact permeated the political diaspora leads me to only one conclusion. Please enlighten me if you have reached another. Again, policy disagreements do not imply a racial influence but the listed conjectures do.

    As to the comments

    Comment#2 is childish and solicits no response.

    Comment#4 while I do not defend the comment itself as it is not well stated but it is not necessarily hyperbolic and the innuendo is not necessarily false. Romney and Ryan have in fact supported legislation that limits women’s access to health care, neither supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. A brief perusal of the Ryan budget clearly denotes a severe burden on middle class families and seniors. Again, the comment was not well stated and consequently not well received.

    Comment#6, while containing one factual sentence(the first one) I view it as mostly hyperbolic and replete with innuendo. The comment insinuates that under the current administration the American economy has not improved, or that the American way of life is being threatened under the current administration. The comment further uses hyperbole to initiate a narrative that ignores the congressional failure plaguing the POTUS, ignores factual dataum on government spending under the current POTUS being the lowest since Eisenhower, and dataum that U.S. corporate taxes that were actually paid (the effective rate) fell to a 40 year low of 12.1 percent in fiscal year 2011, And finally the reference to welfare is a dog whistle and the statement regarding “taking work out of welfare” is categorically untrue. A few remarkable conclusions are derived with no real factual enunciation.

    Your question(In the words of the late Rodney King) Can’t we all just get along? My answer,… Perhaps, but ignorance and error often circumvent such a utopia. I would argue that mal-information is worse that non-information. One instance has to be erased while the other is a blank sheet, but both hinder civility.

    What fascinates me is the hysteria that comes from Conservatives(I’m generalizing here and not saying that you are a hysterical conservative) when an aggressive attack is meted out on them by a Progressive. Seemingly patriotism has been narrowed in its definition to only be inclusive of Christians and Conservative. .But this is a topic for another blog.

    Be well Jan. Great comments all around.

    Peace – #GPolitical

  12. Glenn says:

    One point of clarity here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Muslim in America. What is wrong is to use “Muslim” akin to an epithet in Presidential politics as it has been for the past 4 years. Using any individuals religion against them in Presidential politics is in and of itself bigotry.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Glenn, you provide another excellent discussion in your comments. I think part of the problem, as was mentioned by Jim, is that most media these days is biased in one philosophy or the other, and many of us devour only the information we are hungry for. So, I think for me to “rebutt” any of what you say, particularly, the statistical data, is almost useless, because I would be quoting from sources I read or listen to, and you would be quoting from sources you read or listen to. I see this quite often when I have political discussions with friends. It’s another thing that makes communicating effectively so difficult.

      I can’t deny that there continues to be discussion of President Obama’s birth origin and even religion. I think it’s wrong, and I understand how this is interpreted as racism. Not to excuse it in any way, but I also think the views are held by a relatively small number of people, but it continues to be sensationalized by the media. Unfortunately, there will always be people with extreme beliefs, and that’s another reason we must keep our lines of communication open and speak out against it.

      I do, however, disagree that President Obama is the only American President subjected to such vitriol and hate, though perhaps he is the first to be subjected to what is considered racism. But both Presidents Bush and Clinton were certainly subjected to vitriol and hate. Again not excusing it, just clarifying that for whatever reason, many Presidents and politicians, or for that matter, many with whom we disagree, are subjected to vitriol and hate, sadly.

      I also must add my contribution to what you said about “hysteria” and “aggressive attacks” from Conservatives. I find it almost humorous (in a tragic way) that you think that, and I’ve thought the same about many liberals. (Again, that excludes you.) Many times, I have been struck down for disagreeing about something, or have practically been ridiculed for saying who I might vote for. So, my point is, “hysteria and aggressive attacks” happens on both sides of politics.

      When I quoted Rodney King, I didn’t mean to infer only one side is hateful. Not at all. It sadly, is something that affects too many of us, on both “sides.”

      Thank you again, Glenn. I enjoy exchanging views with you.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Jan, Perspective is certainly shaded by subjective lenses. In my view citing statistical data should actually help a discussion progress. Granted, sources are always suspect and data can be skewed to formulate a specific meaning. None the less “data” consumption , whether it be via electronic media, or statical charts is how information is digested. Interpretation is an individual endeavor. Dismissing a set of statistics because they don’t fit a certain perspective or accepting a set of statistics that fits a specific narrative are both a narrow minded prospect. A “rebutt” should not be presented or received as an attack but a chance to share “data”. To garner a consensus one must reject what is proven false and affirm what is proven truth. Unless all are willing to do that we can never get along.

    All Presidents are targets of fringe rhetorical nonsense. I disagree that the questions regarding the POTUS “Americaness” are at the fringes in the conservative party. There is no place in our political dialogue for elected politicians to call the president of the United States, a communist, or a socialist, or a member of the new world order, or not a United States citizen, or call him a liar during a State Of The Union Address. Conservative reality has injected a level of political vitriol that is damaging to the body politic. Political vitriol damages the country and has no place on either side of the political spectrum, however, there is no place for questioning a duly elected president’s fitness for the office based on the color of his skin. That being said, the narrative of the vitriol towards the President, undoubtedly, has not been visited upon any President in American history. I don’t know that there is anyway of dismissing this fact.

    In discussions I often get the “both sides do it” response. What I try to do now is ask the “other side” to elaborate their view of “my side”. Its almost like saying it okay because “both sides do it”, but I think that subjugates “both sides” to their respective corners until the next the round of fighting begins. On that note, In my view hysteria from conservatives is driven by ideological culture wars(religion, gay rights, abortion, et al), and hysteria from liberals is driven by the ideological role of government( social security,medicare,health,education et al)

    Not sure I follow your last comment about the Rodney King quote, but his quote says a lot about his character. Here was a man, savagely violated, public humiliated and beaten, yet he recognized that more hate was not the solution.

    We all have to practice open mindedness in all discussions because a random discussion is an opportunity to understand a different perspective. Not sure that any of us provided an answer to your original question, however, the discussion is good.

    Peace

  14. Glenn says:

    Jan, you have valid points. Perspective is formed with a subjective lense, but isn’t the relevance of data and or statistics in a discussion minimized if the sole purpose in response to provided data is to “rebutt” rather than to digest and consequently discuss? I welcome information and or data and or statistics that differ from my own. Ultimately data consumption is what our brains process to formulate opinion isn’t it? We all must be willing to reject what is proven false and affirm what is proven true and consumption of varied sources of information helps reach a conclusion either way. To only accept data/information that satisfies a particular opinion or to reject data/information that does not, is a narrow minded endeavor and a recipe for division and argument. As to the data references, those were obtained from the US Bureau Of Labor and Statistics and the Congressional Budget Office. Both reputable sources of information. If you have other sources please share.

    I agree that Presidents throughout history have been subject to vitrol and hate from the fringe political elements of society. One of the most hateful acts in history was the assassination of President Kennedy. I disagree however that the current rhetoric is only at the extreme fringes of the conservative party. In fact the new republican conservative reality is the injection of a level of political vitriol that is damaging to the body politic. Given the vast availability of visible media/news sources what has happened in the new conservative movement is that elected officials have injected vitriolic speech and accusations that should have no place in the political arena. There is no place in our political dialogue for elected politicians to call the president of the United States, a communist, or a socialist, or a member of the new world order, or not a United States citizen, or claim he is a liar when giving a State Of The Union Address. There is no place for questioning a duly elected president’s fitness for the office based on the color of his skin. Political vitriol damages the country and has no place on either side of the political spectrum. It is this type one-sided rhetoric that created a climate that lead to the assassination of President Kennedy. Why these current attacks are different is that American hatred is deeply rooted in racism. If we want to exorcise hate from the national and/or public dialogue you have start by killing the roots of racism. We have to be careful not to dismiss rhetoric whether or not the media sensationalizes a fringe elements view.

    In discussions I often see the “both sides do it” response. But I do understand your point. I rarely see anyone,including myself, ask the “other side” to elaborate their view. We have to discuss with an open mind and take every new discussion on a topic as a learning opportunity. Saying that “both sides do it” is almost like saying that its okay because “both sides do it”. On that note, my view is that conservative hysteria is driven by a narrow set of ideological culture war issues that attempts to define America in a narrow vacuum on such issues as abortion, gun politics, separation of church and state, privacy, recreational drug use, homosexuality, censorship, etc…while liberal hysteria is driven by a larger set of ideological cultural issues that attempts to remove the aforementioned from the body politic and focus on social uplift, health,education, etc. in an effort to expand Americas definition of who we are as a country….but that is just my view. As I mentioned earlier, seemingly American patriotism has been narrowed in its definition to only be inclusive of Christians and Conservatives.

    I don’t quite follow your last comment about the Rodney King quote. I will say that Rodney King possessed great character in making such a statement. After he was savagely violated, publicly beaten and humiliated, even he recognized that more anger and hate was not the solution.

    Not sure if you’ve received an answer to your original question, but discussion is a good start.
    Peace

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