...busting up my brains for the words

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Making friends

I've never seen politics so polarized in the United States as it is today. There is a deep-seated mistrust of the other side. All too often this mistrust leads to a deep-seated hatred of the other side. And that's not helpful.
The usual analogy of politics is to sports. We speak of a political football or winning the game. Someone once said "win one for the Gipper." And while playing politics like a game is not in itself harmful, most of us realize the stakes in politics make it much more serious than games.
"I hate the Brewers" or "I hate the Packers" are rants closely linked in passion to "I hate Repugs" or "I loathe Dummycrats". Expressing these rants is not really so harmful. Usually I've notice they are said deep within one's own camp. So such a pronouncement can be a bonding. Thankfully, we're not seeing this kind of rhetoric escalating into violence. At least, not that I am aware of. Not yet. Not since it was much more widespread in the turbulent 1960s.

But where is this polarization headed? Yesterday on his radio program Hugh Hewitt asked Lileks what he thought would become of SBHFS (Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome) in the aftermath of a Bush victory this November.
"I don't know", Lileks replied in an unusually empty moment of candor.
At least that's an improvement over what Lileks feared last winter when he expressed the possibility of an escalation to physical violence;
" But the next election is just the beginning of the next phase of American politics. It gets ugly after next November. If some people think Bush is Hitler now, who will he be in 05 if he wins? Rabid Super Extra-Plus UltraHitler? ...I said last year that 04 was going to be ugly. I think 05 will be uglier.", said the Bleating One.

When I was working the GOP voter registration drive at Midway Stadium last week. I unhappily witnessed an incident of bigotry that I tried to correct. A Republican made a disparaging remark to me about the identity of a pair of women wearing Kerry stickers. He called into question their validity as women. Now, let me say, I work elbow to elbow with Republicans all the time and I have rarely, nay, never heard this sort of thing from them before. I calmly explained to this gentleman that they most certainly are women and that there is room for them in the Republican Party. If they would only join us I am certain they would be glad to be re-electing President Bush.
He tried to explain himself by saying that they had shot him dirty looks. Couldn't that come from mistrust? They are just as good as we are. We're all people.
I seemed to get through to him. He nodded that I was right.
I don't think I permanently changed his biases or belief system. But these sorts of things are impacted over time and experience.

The GOP that I know is compassionate and has a big tent. The nature of American politics being what it is, not everyone is going to walk into that tent. In order to have a two-party system you've gotta have the Democrats too, in their own tent. But it's not helpful to make enemies of them. We should have respect. We should make friends with one another. We're all Americans. Politics is the art of persuasion. How can you persuade an enemy if they mistrust or hate you? You can't.

This January when W begins his second term in the White House we need a Republican Congress to cooperate with him on very important matters of state, such as waging a war on radical extremist Islamism and preventing Iran from going nuclear. But we're going to need cooperation from Democrats, too. Especially if Democrats hold a majority in either house.

Any lefties who want to come into pinkmonkeybird blog and participate are welcome. I'm left on many social issues, such as gay marriage and drug decriminalization. We need to be friends; Republicans and Democrats. At least, we need to behave in a civil, respectful manner. The other night on Tim Russert's program on CNBC I thought Paul Krugman and Bill O'Reilly might come to blows. It started with charges of lying. (Krugman started it; "That's a lie. That is just a lie.")

W will win this November, I predict. When he does we need to find soft ways of accepting this victory. We need to keep it possible for the other side to imagine being persuaded by a Republican. When the Democratic Party reels in defeat, fires Terry McAuliffe * as director of the DNC because of his shrill style, and goes back to the drawing board to try and come up with a reasonable solution, the nation would do well if former Democrats did not think of us as Repugnant.

*Apparently, this is not really McAuliffe's desk. Okay. So it's a cruel joke. However, it is McAuliffe who must take credit for allowing his party to be hijacked by Michael Moore. That's prolly why this joke is at least a little humorous. Lighten up.


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