I’ve had this crazy idea for some time that one of the reasons women claim they’re not really “political” is because all the air has been sucked out of any space that even tries to see more than one side of an issue.
Cable news shows tend to focus on just one side of the political spectrum. On shows that try to present more than one viewpoint, so much yelling and disrespect and contentiousness abounds that I often can’t be bothered because no one is listening to what anyone else is saying — it’s just about who can be the loudest or most obnoxious when making their shouting points.
There’s enough yelling and discord in my house already when it comes to homework, play dates and green vegetables — who has time or energy trying to talk with someone else who will never listen? I know lots of people who feel that way, but there seems to be a trend appearing that makes me nervous and has me wondering where we’re headed if we all don’t try to insist on a new approach. Things like:
– The recently proposed GOP “purity” pledge. (Of course, maybe they’ll have one of those “purity” balls to go with it)! If you’re a Republican and you can’t double pinkie promise that you’ll never deviate from these principles, the party doesn’t want you.
– The New York 23rd Congrssional District race where the likes of Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh railroaded the Republican candidate out of the race because she was too moderate and helped install an uber-conservative candidate they liked better (he was so much more “pure”), even though he didn’t live in the district. Fortunately, their efforts were thwarted when the spurned Republican endorsed the Democrat, helping him win the seat.
– The recent failed recall effort of a California Assemblyman who dared to cast one vote against his party and felt immediate conservative wrath. Anthony Adams voted with Governor Schwarzenegger for a budget increase because to do so meant that many who were owed money by the state would get “paid” with IOUs indefinitely and more services would be cut statewide. His decision brought an immediate recall effort, though it failed when a judge ruled that there were too many invalid signatures on the recall petitions.
Adams was viewed as a conservative renegade because he deviated from the Republican playbook one time. Adams remarked in the a Washington Post article about his saga:
“This Taliban mentality: it’s trying to get rid of people in our party. It makes it impossible to grow the party.”
So when I’m feeling the way I know others feel — worn down by the political propaganda that tries to pass for political discourse — I think there’s got to be a better way.
Some other people I know feel the same way. Others think I’m a little out of my mind to believe we can ever get to a place where politics can ever really be a discussion. Either way, I feel like if we don’t try, the so-called purists may start to gain some traction. When a political party isn’t open to having members who can respectfully disagree on some things and don’t have to be in ideological lockstep, the hairs on the back of my neck go up. When words like “purity” and “loyalty” start getting tossed about in connection with intolerance for those who don’t do as they are asked (or told) on the political stage, I start feeling a little queasy.
Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I have a vision that there are some of us who can cultivate something better than flame-throwing, name-calling politi-hate that passes for debate today. I bet if a few Democrats, and maybe even a few more unafraid Republicans, came out and openly supported what California Assemblyman Anthony Adams had the nerve and the courage to do — voting his conscience rather than his party’s dictates — we could find more people out there who share my dream.