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Politically Correct

June 16, 2014

It occurs to me that today’s mudslinging between people of different political parties is the modern equivalent of racism. It is no longer PC to blame blacks, Jews, Asians, or other racial or ethnic groups for society’s problems (at least not publicly), so instead we blame Democrats or Republicans. We do this as if being a Democrat or a Republican defines someone, the same way people have assumed that someone’s character can be defined by their skin color or ethnic affiliation.

It’s extremely discouraging to me to hear entire swaths of people—all of whom are likely very different as individuals—grouped into disparaging blanket statements about one party or the other. Posts on Facebook have gotten as out of control as the attack ads aired on TV during political campaigns. I know many of you have friends who are mostly from one side of the aisle or the other so you aren’t necessarily subjected to posts that feel personally insulting, but as someone who has friends of all political stripes, I am tired of seeing this negativity popping up on my newsfeed every time I log in. I welcome different viewpoints, but not when they are packaged in language that belittles people who don’t share them such as “If you voted for Obama twice, you’re way too stupid to argue with.”

I did happen to vote for Obama twice, but my reasons are quite nuanced and probably have very little to do with anything anyone who voted against him might assume. But in the current cultural climate, I will never be engaged in a constructive discussion about my reasoning by someone with an opposing viewpoint because I am already assumed to be too stupid or uninformed to bother with. The same is often assumed of those who voted against Obama, as if they must be totally ignorant to have voted for a Republican.  To be sure, many Americans are indeed ignorant of the facts, but whether we perceive another to be uninformed or not doesn’t necessarily matter at the outset.  It is no less worthwhile to engage such a person in discussion in order to better understand what MATTERS to that person; only when we understand one another better can we begin to forge compromises that might benefit us all.

To all of the American citizens who say they are fed up with Washington politicians because they do more finger pointing than legislating, I recommend taking a good, hard look in the mirror because there is a lot of finger pointing going on at the ground level as well. If we expect our representatives to live up to a higher standard, perhaps we should be setting it ourselves by reaching out to those whose opinions differ from ours and engaging them in meaningful discussions about the direction our country is heading. We must remember Abraham Lincoln’s words that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Rather than waste our breath and our Facebook space denigrating others, let us use our time to ask questions of each other and to listen to everyone’s reasoning. I bet we’d be surprised by how much we stand to learn from those we think are just too stupid to argue with.

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