Does anyone remember when the GOP had good arguments for their positions? People like William F. Buckley and others? Yeah, they may or may not have been right but at least they could have explained their position without resorting to the dog-whistle nudges to the ever dwindling base that was born back when drinking fountains and lunch counters were segregated.
They used numbers, figures and spreadsheets that weren’t slathered with a copious dose of BS and subtle racism to make their point. You could disagree with them very vehemently, and vice versa, then go have scotch and a cigar together afterwards. Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan’s relationship is probably the most famous example of this, as recalled in this article from Chris Matthews.
Politics is a nasty, brutal sport in which the spectators become the players. Like hockey, there are fist fights, yelling and a lot of bad blood between opposing teams. However, in hockey, the animosity tends to end when the game is over. The same can’t be said for politics unfortunately, and this applies to both sides.
On the left, we sometimes tend to be just as guilty as those who believe that the President is a Marxist Kenyan Fascist Muslim sent to destroy the America they think they know. We may have a stronger argument and the moral high ground on a lot of issues, but some of us tend to fall into that “four legs good, two legs bad” group mentality as well. We don’t do it as much as the people who become outraged at a member of our military holding an umbrella for the President, but it still happens.
It’s fun and cathartic to bash Republicans, especially the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, or the countless parrots employed by NewsCorp. I’m just as culpable in this as anyone else because when you see absolutely ridiculous and asinine commentary being touted as “facts,” you can’t help but laugh hysterically and/or facepalm repeatedly. I know I do every time I’m stuck in some doctor’s office with Fox News playing on the waiting room TV and I have to listen to people complain about “entitlements,” right before they whip out their Medicaid card.
Whether they’re liberal, conservative or other, the fact of the matter is people like to be constantly reassured that they’re right and the other side is always wrong. It’s known as “bias confirmation” — we’re all guilty of it to some degree, and it sells very, very well. The danger of it is that when you become so attached to this way of thinking, you become an intellectual zombie, just like the millions of folks who get all of their talking points from Fox News.
It’s the same with social media. Far too often, I see both liberals and conservatives from all ends of the spectrum reacting to headlines instead of actually reading stories or doing a few minutes of research. By reacting to just a headline, your perspective of that headline gets ingrained into your thought process and becomes instant truth at that moment and for the future, making it much harder to learn or accept the full truth behind the story if and when you’re exposed to it. Folks, it doesn’t take much effort to prevent that from happening — read and research before responding with reaction. It’s as simple as that. Let’s stop falling into the very mentality we accuse others of having been trapped into.
In closing, I will leave you with this quote from Buddha. We should all take his words to heart and practice it every time we deal with information, regardless of who presents it to us.
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
― Gautama Buddha