What’s Wrong with American Democracy
Right now, do an exercise:
Pick one hot topic that you feel strongly about. Pick something you feel so strongly about that you are willing to fight for it.
Now, describe someone who holds the opposing view.
Did you come up with words like stupid or idiot? How about the more intellectually appropriate word: uninformed?
If so, then I want to be rude and say that you don’t actually understand your topic at all.
If you are willing to die on that hill, you should probably know what is on the other side of it.
I’ve just made many of my good friends mad, and I apologize for that. But I’m sick of this bi-partisan bickering. I’m tired of watching my friends insult each other and behave like schoolhouse bullies.
A friend recently said that we needed to fight for a specific cause or else we’d all be living in Nazi Germany. Another friend pointed out that at the heart of Nazi Germany was the belief that there was an “us” and a “them” and that the “them” were somehow less than human. That exterminating “them” would somehow make “us” more safe.
While none of my friends have voted for extermination, many have disenfranchised others by calling their beliefs stupid and unfounded. I have heard respected friends suggest that the other side (pick an issue) is just too stupid to be allowed to vote.
You know what? I don’t have stupid friends.
My friends are passionate people who want the best for their families and their communities. My friends are strong, good, moral people. They just disagree on the polarizing issues that have riddled the American public solidarity.
I’ve seen the same issues affecting other countries as well.
I’ve quietly watched on the sidelines since before the 2016 election as friends cruelly posted insulting memes they thought were cute and hilarious. It is hard to respect someone who will happily insult half of the population as a joke…and yet we’ve all seen it done over the last couple of years by both sides of any argument you want to use as an example.
No. That isn’t funny.
I thought about posting samples in this commentary, but there are no safe topics. Anything I might point at and say, “See — there?” would have half of my friends ganging up on the other half. We’d devolve into insulting each other.
A friend recently said that she’d damaged her online platform by posting political commentary. She’d watched her subscription rates falling and only recently realized that it was her political commentary that was causing the issue. She thought she was in the majority, so she felt safe to insult the other side. She was wrong: on both counts.
(In Nazi Germany) early victims were easy targets, people whom other Germans did little or nothing to protect, and whose disappearance from the public scene they often welcomed.Germany and the Camp System
Facebook blames the Russians.
The US Government blames Facebook.
This isn’t a Facebook problem. This isn’t a Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, or Green problem. This is a human problem.
Nazis specialized in pitting people against each other, as a way to ease the processes of subjugation and destruction. Within Germany, this approach meant picking on the least popular elements of the population first, so as to maximize public support, or at least indifference.Germany and the Camp System
This isn’t “us” or “them.”
As a country, as a people, we must have enough confidence in our own beliefs to allow others to hold opposing views. To devalue others is to devalue ourselves.
We can continue to let the fear mongers scream that we must stop “them” before they destroy “us” or we can take a stand and reach across every divide with respect and empathy.
Who’s with me?
I am most definitely with you, Deleyna. What you’ve said is spot-on. I’m tired of the bullying, too. Name-calling and demeaning have become something like a contest of “I can think of a meaner one than you can.” The most grade-school people problem there is. Thank you for this post.
Thanks. What has stunned me is the number of very gentle people who I don’t even think realize they are doing it. This is why I love blogs like yours that are uplifting. Even in your writing, I see you show that empathy for your villains. Makes for more realism.
I totally agree with you, Deleyna. We’ve been through a similar thing in the UK with Brexit, which has been a hugely divisive issue.
It’s only when we start listening to each other and respecting each other – even if we don’t agree on every point – that we can start to build bridges and heal the divide. Thanks for a wonderful post!
I think this is a common problem with political and other sensitive issues. Accepting our own feelings, respecting both our feelings and those of others… Goes way beyond national boundaries. This is what I loved about the old Star Trek, that respect and desire to build a better civilization together.
I was talking to my husband about this and he completely agrees with you! It so hard to have a conversation that gets anywhere when everyone is so angry. Thanks for giving us something to think about!
I think this has in some way backfired on the major parties, because they are only hearing the loud voices, the ones they feed into. There are a lot of intelligent, thinking people who are simply not engaging in the discussions because they are so rabid. I think eventually we’ll find a way to have intelligent discourse again. At least the optimist in me hopes so!