Friday, September 03, 2004

A Politic of Anger

Most USAmericans out there have probably caught at least some of the Republican National Convention. If you haven't people like The Faithful Skeptic and Fr. Jake are blogging about it. Or, there's always my favorite source for fake news, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

Well, I'm not actually going to write about the RNC specifically, and I'm not going to just rail against Republicans. But I've been noticing as I've been watching the convention coverage, everything from Fox News to Democracy Now, that we don't seem to be having a political dialogue at all. Everything is incredibly polarized and so just angry. Did you notice at the RNC how people just loved to be angry. It was all of the angry, bashing comments that got the biggest ovations. Or, on the other side of the aisle, look at MoveOn.org. We love it when politicians bash each other and call each other evil. We love to get angry about it.

Now, I'm not saying that these forms of political expression aren't accurate. That may or may not be true. What I am critiquing is how the anger and polarization that has entered the campaign has effected our culture and our political dialogue. The parties don't seem to be speaking the same language. They are not talking to and with each other, but merely against each other. I'll betray my allegiance here and say that as I was listening the RNC speeches, there were a lot of statements that I just plain didn't understand, and I'm not politically unsavvy. It was a totally different language; the delegates seemed to love it, but I didn't get it.

I think we might be operating from completely different worldviews. If the world Bush describes is the world you understand, you'll probably vote for him, and if the world Kerry describes is the one you know, you'll vote for him. But they are totally different worlds, and we are doing a terrible job of trying to understand the differences. In the mean time, we can just continue to be angry, continue to not understand each other, and continue to talk past each other.

The Psalmist tells us, "How good and pleasant it is when people live together in unity!" (133) Jesus tells us not to return evil for evil and to love our enemies. It concerns me to see this sort of character assassination (even as I admit that I too am guilty of it), especially when it spills over into the religious realm -- God being used to beat people over the head. I pray that we can find a way to "find the quiet center," to at least dialogue about the issues facing our country in a way that is edifying and productive. I don't know what the answer is, but I hold out hope it.


---- Update ----
I guess someone else noticed too. Check out this Daily Show clip.

5 Comments:

Blogger Brian said...

You're absolutely right. It seems to be a contest of who can shout the loudest and make the wildest claims. There's almost no discussion of the issues.

I don't think that it has to come down to some kum-ba-yah love fest. The two parties have different visions for the future, and they should articulate them - and forcefully.

I don't think there's anything wrong about getting up and telling people about your vision for the country's future and why it is better than your opponent. But political discourse today requires framing your opponent as evil, stupid, nefarious, etc. It would be nice if we could just talk about the issues.

Oh well.

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