You Call This Civilized
It seems everywhere you look, political animosity runs amok.
Flame wars are rampant on the net. The Opinion and Editorial
pages pages howl with increasing fury. Pundits are ripping
into each other with a gleeful fury. There's no escaping it,
and the intensity is slowly escalating with each new dawn.
The Conservatives are proclaiming their dubious victory.
Liberals are shouting their indignation and frustration. Moderates
are quickly finding that it's easier to choose a side than
to avoid the rising din. Finding any sort of middle ground
is nigh impossible. But for all of this tremendous din, no
one is doing any listening, and as such, they're making it
The tactics used by each side are identical, a fact both
sides refuse to acknowledge. Recently, Jesse Jackson has been
demonized by a mistake he made in his personal life 20 years
go. However, many of those pointing their fingers at Jackson
have themselves been shown as having cheated on their spouses.
As these actions increase, each side ends up ignoring the
points of the other, no matter how valid they may be. Instead,
each accusation is met with another. If one, both, or neither
of the claims prove true, it doesn't matter. Just by voicing
the allegation somehow deflects any attacks being aimed at
your side, regardless of their validity. If our country is
to get through this period without doing damage to itself,
people are going to have to listen to the other side and consider
their point of view, even if they don't like what's being
Conservatives need to realize that the current President
won the Florida election through less than rosy circimstances,
and he then made it worse by fighting every attempt to clear
the muddy waters of Florida's election system. The subsequent
decision by the Supreme Court to stop the recount, make a
non-binding deadline a binding and impossible to meet deadline,
and then exempted their ruling from affecting anything else
only made the situation worse. Despite all his speaches about
compassion, bi-partisanship, and uniting the country, their
candidate in his inaugural speech dismissed all his detractors
as "fringe people", and then sent out an executive order that
followed his party line on one of the single most politically
divisive topics currently around. These are not the actions
of someone attempting to bridge the political divide.
On the flip side, Liberals need to understand that their
political opponents are extremely frustrated after the last
8 years. They've had to suffer having every proposal of theirs
either foiled or stolen by the Clinton administration. Conservatives
additionally feel that their entire way of life is under attack,
especially on the religious front, as their publicly supported
religious displays are proclaimed unconstitutional. They've
had these displays for decades, and many have come to believe
that these displays are integral to their way of life, regardless
of any constitutional violations.
Feeding this firestorm of words is the media. Their lassez-faire
attitude towoards investigation, and increasing fascination
for the "scandle of the day" flavor of stories ends up burying
the truth. Through endless repetition by pundits, correspondants,
and anchors, the truth is dismissed as a fabrication, and
lies are accepted as facts without so much as a cursory review.
George W. Bush breezed through this extremely long election
cycle without being pitched any tough questions about his
missing days in the National Guard, or why the number of years
he claimed to have been drug free kept shrinking. Many of
the fabricated allegations against Gore went uninvestigated,
or had the results of the investigations killed after a single
news cycle. The national media decided for us that it was
better for us to hear endless accusations and surreptitious
claims, rather than do their jobs and investigate the truth
of the matter.
So where does that leave us? Just as our country was immediately
before the Civil War, we are a country politically divided.
But there are no clear geographic lines from which we can
draw sides. And as the Industrial Barons fanned the flames
that started the Civil War, the Media is greedily driving
us to a frenzy, to reap higher ratings and greater advertising
revenue. However underneath it all, we all claim to be fighting
for the same cause: Democracy. Let us hope that it is not
destroyed in the process.