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Democrat, Republican, or Other: It Does Not Matter, We Are All Americans©
No single individual built America on their own. We built it together.
Democrat, Republican, or Other: It Does Not Matter, We Are All Americans©
September 20, 2011
Being that we are now in the beginning phases of the next Presidential campaign (2012) season, it is appropriate to take a quick look at the state of the political mechanism. This is done with the understanding that our history, as it relates to politics, is filled with missteps and just bad policy. It is a good thing that we are considered to be a work in progress, because that implies there is room for improvement, and there is always room for improvement. As comedian and actor Mr. Robert Wuhl pointed out in his 2006 HBO special, Assume the Position, “right off the bat our country is founded on a grammatical F----up.” He is of course speaking of the opening line of the U.S. Constitution, which states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union.”
Mr. Wuhl’s assumption is based on the superficial look at the sentence, which cursory glances at an argument also appears to be a trait of the American political system. His argument is “You are either perfect or your not.” Normally the word “perfect” is considered an absolute adjective and cannot be compared. However, as with many rules in the English language there are exceptions. In this case there exists a thing call graded absolute adjective, which justifies the limited use of phrases like “more perfect.” So absolutes are not always absolute. Yet our current political discourse is filled with absolute statements that claim to be perfect and complete.
Listening to the current pre-election bantering, a reasonable person would get the impression that opposition to any political position is being looked at as if it were in support of the anti-Christ. With all the lies and silliness that is about to engulf our nation, people are preparing for the upcoming onslaught of unsupported political rhetoric. One website even gives its readers a checklist to identify negative political ads.
“The Negative Political Ad typically consists of the following elements:
- An illogical argument.
- An unsupported personal attack on your opponent.
- Disturbing imagery or music or both (both is preferred).
- An emotional plea targeted at unrelated issues so as to somewhat distract the true intent or agenda of the sponsor of the Ad.
- A good catchphrase or slogan that people can remember.”
A satirical, yet telling commentary, about the state our political system was presented on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The scene was outside the Republican Presidential Candidate debates on September 12, 2011: the reporter was commenting on how members of the audience were heckling the candidates, pointing out that they were a tough crowd. To the point that the actor playing the reporter mused, “I am willing to bet that no human being living, dead, or fictional would ever satisfy the Tea Party.” A point that Mr. Stewart tries to argue against but fails, because with every political figure presented had issues from Thomas Jefferson to Ronald Reagan, even Superman was labeled as an illegal alien. The point they were making is that we are at a point where we will not even listen to each other. Jefferson had some sage advice that addresses are current intolerance to difference. “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” We need to listen and let reason, not rhetoric, determine our acts.
I am a firm believer that we need to be constantly looking backwards to enable us to continue too move forward. To understand why we have such foolishness in our current campaign discourse, we have to look at the none-sense of yesterday. Thomas Jefferson in his inaugural address highlighted some concern surrounding the practice of political mudslinging. He probably would be disappointed, but not surprised in the fact that current political discourse has not progressed to dealing with the issue. “Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.” It should be understood that political mudslinging has been a part of out political process from the beginning. In that presidential election between incumbent, John Adams and challenger and Thomas Jefferson, the candidates or members of their respective political party took part in the rhetoric.
Historian Jill Lepore wrote on her freshman seminar website about the election of 1800, “Jefferson claimed that the vote would “fix our national character” and “determine whether republicanism or aristocracy would prevail.” Whether or not the nation’s destiny was at stake, the election was the first marked by mudslinging: labeling Jefferson an atheist, Adams’ supporters carried placards reading: “GOD--AND A RELIGIOUS PRESIDENT or JEFFERSON--AND NO GOD!” According to Jefferson, he represented liberty and freedom, while Adams characterized him as being Godless.
Another example of historical mudslinging comes from writer Dana Heupel, who identifies some of the slinging that went on during the election of President Lincoln, ‘Republicans in the 1860 election editorialized in a newspaper that Democrats engendered a “rendezvous of thieves, the home of parasites and bloodsuckers, the enemy of God and man, the stereotyped fraud, the sham, the hypocrite, the merciless marauder, and the outlaw renegade and malefactor,’ Richard J. Carwardine wrote in the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association. And not to be outdone, according to Erin Carlson Mast, curator of Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, D.C., Democrats of the time wailed in another newspaper that ‘Old Abe’s extreme ugliness has been remarked by all who have seen him or his picture. … [Lincoln] was advised to go to Illinois, where his ugliness might be turned to good account in scaring away the wolves.” Neither party’s campaign had anything to do with the issues of a nation on the brink of a civil war.
Why am I whining about a little bit of slander, lying, or misrepresentation about the opposition’s position? If this is a part of our political history why should we stop it now?
It hides the issue.
It masks the candidates true convictions.
May the best spin doctor win.
It polarizes the population.
A problem with the spinning of reality today verses what happened in the election process that Jefferson or Lincoln went through is the introduction of mass media. We have twenty-four hour news cycles with networks dedicated to supporting a particular political ideology such as Fox News and MSNBC. Radio programming, music, movies, and television shows repeat the same political story line over and over again. Millions of people are inundated with these political stories of reality, so much so, the fiction becomes the truth.
Am I foolish enough to believe that politicians on their own will do away with this practice? The answer is no. The goal of most politicians is to get elected, get reelected and retain enough influence to stay in the game once they have left office. As it exists the political spin game works in their favor. What is missed is there are two primary forces at work in our liberal political system. This point was illustrated by C. B. Macpherson, in his 1977 book The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, “For ‘liberal’ can mean free of the stronger to do down the weaker by following market rules; or it can mean equal effective freedom of all to use and develop their capacities. The latter freedom is inconsistent with the former.” Using the spin doctors, candidates can support their particular brand of liberalism, without coming out and specifically addressing the issues. From their point of view, why would they mess up a good story line with the facts?
The Blue Crab
The Blue Crab
In 1871 Charles Darwin wrote, “We thus learn that man is descended from a hairy, tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits, and an inhabitant of the Old World.” His assertion that humans were somehow related to apes, set off a firestorm of a debate, but a mere 140 years after he wrote that statement, I think I can prove him wrong. I think humans (mainly politicians) are not related to apes, apes have too many manners, instead they must be the decedents of the Blue Crab. I came to this realization recently while I was out crabbing. The method I was using was a hand line and dip net (Scap Net). All you have to do is hook your bait to the line, throw it in the water and wait. If you are Crabbing on the Chesapeake Bay you will not have to wait too long. Once the crab starts to eat your bait, slowly start pulling on the line, once the crab is near the surface take your net and scoop dinner up.
The crab is so focused on what is in front of his face they can not see any alternative or the fact that they are in danger. I have to give the little crab credits, they are fighters, once you get them to the shore and you have forced the bait away from them they are ready to fight. Right or wrong they are dedicated to the task right up to the end. However, blue crabs and politicians are inherently cannibalistic, if they are left in a pod too long they will eat each other. This was demonstrated by the Republican political debates; by the way Democrats you should not become too self-righteous at the Republican Party’s actions, you did the same thing in the 2008 election season. Politicians, and their most rabid supports become so fixated on what they want, (Politician to be reelected) they lose sight is what is good for the society.
To over-come the upcoming firestorm of rhetoric, individuals need to be able to think for them self. Rhetoric depends on people thinking like a herd, as was pointed out in the movie Men in Black. “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.” It is not the point of this article to support a particular political ideology or party. The intent is to make the voter aware of what is happening around them, for them not to get sucked up in the game. Vote for the ideas that make sense to you, but you should be concerned if the candidate or party that you believe in has to resort to distortion and lies to win an election. Just think, if they are willing to lie in public to support their agenda, then how will you know they are not just lying to you.
Going back to the President’s speech on September 8, 2011, for America’s continued grow, petty political difference will have to be worked through and the sides will have to work together. What will make this country strong is not how well we agree with each other, rather it will be in the in which we disagree.
 Wuhl, Robert. Assume the Position. 2006.HBO. http://wn.com/Assume_the_Position. (Accessed September 18, 2011)
 Raving Review. The 2012 Guide to Negative Political Ads. http://raving-review.blogspot.com/2011/05/2012-guide-to-negative-political-ads.html. (Accessed July 24, 2011)
 Played by Al Madrigal
 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. September 13, 2011. (Accessed September 15, 2011)
 The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. Thomas Jefferson First Inaugural Address. First Inaugural Address. March 4, 1801. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/jefinau1.asp. (accessed September 18, 2011)
 Jill Lepore. Course description The Election of 1880 Freshman Seminar 47x
http://scholar.harvard.edu/jlepore/classes/election-1800-freshman-seminar-47x/materials/description. (Accessed September 15, 2011)
 Heupel, Dana. Negative campaigning makes it hard
to put faith in either candidate. Illinois Issues. November 2008. http://illinoisissues.uis.edu/archives/2008/11/editor.html. (accessed September 18, 2011)
 The polarization can become deadly as represented by the shooting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
 Yes, given our current political system both Republican, Democrat and most Independents are liberal.
 Macpherson, C. B. The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy. Oxford University Press. 1977. Pg 1
 Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man Chapter XXI. GENERAL SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION. 1871. http://faculty.grandview.edu/ssnyder/102/Darwindescent.htm. (accessed July 28, 2011)
 If any Blue Crabs are offended by this comparison please accept my apologies.
 Which was full of rhetoric
© 2011 Mark Monroe