Taking Sides in Battle
Election 2012 in Retrospect: A Case Study
When America first began way back in the 1700's we really didn't have the big division between political parties that we have today. Now we have a two-party system with a third party (Libertarians) also prominent at times, but never actually strong enough to challenge either the Republicans or Democrats. Since the year 1852, either a Democrat or a Republican has taken every major office. The most famous Republican was Abraham Lincoln, which the most prominent Democrat was Franklin Roosevelt.
A party gathering steam at present is the Green Party. It thrives on the popular sentiment strongly favoring environmentalism and peace. Many members believe in the credo of the party almost like a religion.
There are those Americans who call themselves Independent, meaning that they refuse to identify consistently or blindly with one party or another. Often these people are the last ever to be expected to get caught up in anything so strong as to be called political hatred, because they tend to take a middle-of-the-road approach to politics and keep a cool head in any arguments appearing to be emotional. They often are the people we call moderates.
It's hard to typify any one party as being entirely liberal or completely conservative. For example, Republicans don't like civilian gun control and take a free and liberal approach to owning guns. Democrats don't want liberal laws on owning drugs, but instead want strict government control over drugs. Both major parties agree that it's OK for America to intervene in foreign affairs involving other countries' politics and governmental choices. However, in general, Democrats can be counted upon to support liberal causes, which Republicans are known to be much more conservative in their approach.
There are great incentives for building a strong cohesive party because it's been proven through the decades that such a party can win the votes necessary to gain political power. As of the 2012 presidential election in America, one of the fiercest fought political battles in history, the Democrats had more than 43 million registered voters. The party was dedicated to providing healthcare for all Americans on an affordable basis, helping to adjust the immigration laws so that immigrants would not have to live in fear, and trying to secure retirement income for the elderly by way of governmental pension payments. The Republican Party had over 30 million registered voters. They were dedicated to strengthening the American economy, reforming the excessive waste of government, and preserving the traditional values of American society.
The election, a close one, has come and gone, with the Democrats winning slightly in the popular vote. But as the time of the election approached, what were people saying and thinking about all the insulting language being used by politicians against each other?
As we near presidential election time again, the parties will start to heat up their rhetoric on both sides, Democrat and Republican. But political speeches are mild and restrained, especially in TV debates, compared to the emotions that many, if not most, voters experience.
Politics, for many, is almost a religion, filled with morality and righteousness. This feeling makes us quick to recognize and condemn those who disagree with us.
The Democrats, at least those who see politics as a drama pitting good against evil, see the Republicans as callous, rich people who ridicule the poor while pursuing personal gain.
The Republicans, those who feel a protectiveness toward America because they think they own it, see the Democrats as lazy, shiftless vagabonds who are trying to beg, borrow, and steal every last cent from Uncle Sam.
Yes, there are moderates in between whose blood runs much cooler than the hot-headed radicals on either side of the fence. But as we approached 2012, and as the terrible economy put pressure on all of us, it was safe to predict verbal battles ahead.
A strong-willed candidate has to show some righteous emotion in order to deliver a good speech. But campaign managers all know the wisdom of the saying, "You can catch more flies [voters] with a drop of honey than with a barrel of vinegar."
Therefore, a level of dignity usually is preserved during the campaigns. The brutal anger takes place, however, in our homes, on our sidewalks, and in our barber shops, because those are the settings for battles of words and gestures between angry voters.
Forgive and forget is a good peaceful motto, but is it still OK to abhor an opposing political view? This is a question each person has a right to decide for himself or herself. Morality is an individual matter. It's like freedom of religion. No one can tell you what's right or wrong.
Some people will decide that vehement political arguments, which can get very personal in their insults, are morally wrong as a violation of the golden rule to love thy neighbor as thyself, and do unto others as you'd have them do unto you.
Other people would say that verbal battles, however heated, are fine because democracy demands freedom of expression during a political campaign, and that if anyone's feelings are hurt by strong words, that's too bad for them, because we all have a right to feel strongly about political issues and express ourselves.
The answer to the question of whether political hatred is immoral is a personal and private decision each person has a right to make, or not make. Personally, I'd like to see a little more action in the TV debates. If candidates would show some emotion, then we'd know they really cared about the things they were saying and promising.
Some people talk about mutual respect among political parties the way the pope talks about it concerning the world's many religions. But there is so much paranoia floating around that it's hard to be calm enough to show courtesy to others of opposing views in politics. Although people understand that it's better to be tolerant of others, there is still an environment of hatred surrounding politics in America and apparently in many other countries as well.
Some hard-core politicians who are known for their stubborn ways are said to have been hateful, almost the way Hitler and other despised dictators were. The more discussion between political opponents, the greater the risk for anger leading to hatred. The effect on citizens themselves, who are convinced by many great speeches that there is danger afoot in the plotting wiles of opponents, is to transmit this hatred into the minds of the voters and make them irrational with paranoia. As economic situations grow more tense in the 21st Century recession, politicians begin to shout at each other, making citizens uneasy and prone to verbal, if not physical, violence. Senseless shootings are on the rise.
The greatest sin of politicians is that they exaggerate so much in what they say that they instill hatred in everyone listening. Even if people are of the same political party, the hatred exists within the party itself. We all know that hatred is bad for us, morally and even physically, but we can't resist it when politicians make us angry enough to kill. To the credit of America, however, is the fact that we are a far cry from Nazi Germany, where hatred reigned supreme. We are the melting pot of the world where free speech instead is supreme.