An Essay Composed (Mostly) For Those Who Will Never Read It
Nowadays, it goes without saying that from the point of view of politics, culture and worldview, we are an incredibly divided nation. Oh so many are scared, angry, depressed and more than willing to believe the absolute worst about those who don't - or won't - walk in their shoes. Others look down their noses at those they consider to be bumpkins without brains. As a result, few can begin to comprehend how anyone in the "other camp" can believe or support "that which" or "those whom" they believe or support. Certainly, this is not the first time in American history we've reached such a bifurcated impasse. Hell's bells; way back at the turn of the (18th) century, supporters of Jefferson and Adams were as estranged and resentful of one another as the Blues and Greens of the early Byzantine Empire.
Undoubtedly, the most glaring difference between supporters of Jefferson and Adams - as opposed to modern-day progressives vs. Trumpeters - is in the quality of their verbal assaults: While Jefferson's camp accused President Adams of having a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman," Adams' men called Vice President Jefferson "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father." As the presidential campaign of 1800 progressed, Adams was labeled a fool, a hypocrite, a criminal, and a tyrant, while Jefferson was branded a weakling, an atheist, a libertine, and a coward.
Ah, those were the days of imaginative, articulate lies and utter nonsense!
Of a certainty, there were - and are - some fascinating similarities in the political feuds of the late 18th-early 19th century and those of the late 20th-early 21st century:
- Back then, as today, there was a division between those who placed trust in the federal government and those who firmly believed that "that government which governs least governs best." (In today's parlance its the difference between "Government does have a role to play in our lives" versus "Government is the problem.")
- Back then, as today, one line of thought strongly held that neither society nor government should put stumbling blocks in the way of stalwart individualism, while the other proclaimed the communitarian principle that "we are our brother's keeper."
- Back then, as today, there was a plethora of professional, non-partisan and deeply partisan media. The major difference, of course, is that back then, it consisted of innumerable morning, afternoon and evening newspapers and periodicals, while today, it consists of everything from TV and radio to cable, blogs and Tweets.
- Back then, as today, political partisanship could be brutal. But unlike in days of yore, contemporary political partisanship is lacking in civility, tact and even wit.
As a political writer, I spend a lot of time reading and listening to the "other side." It is important, nay crucial . . . and not only because I'm committed to composing and posting a minimum of one political essay a week. It is important because I really, truly want to know what those who disagree with my point of view think; I want to know what they think, what they believe, and from where they get their information. Often I find myself wondering how many fans of National Public Radio, MSNBC or the Daily Kos, tune in to Fox, or One America News, listen to Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage or Joe Pags, or read the National Review On Line, Newsmax or The Blaze.
It is at this point, that we will begin addressing ourselves to the latter - to the dyed-in-the-wool Trumpeters; the angrier-than-thou mad conservatives and conspiratorialists . . . despite the fact it is highly unlikely they will ever read this essay.
In reading a ton of online comments you make on various websites, I notice that a vast majority use the same derogatory terminology against those who disagree ('snowflakes,' 'libtards,' and 'elitists,'), repeatedly tell those who point out the exaggerations, mistruths, outright lies and gross inconsistencies of '45 that the source of their anger is that we lost the election . . . "get over it." A high percentage continue believing that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and sent to Hawaii as an infant in order to become an Islamic "Manchurian Candidate"; that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by liberals; that illegal immigrants are the cause of most of our problems (both economic and social); that given the chance, Democrats will take away guns from red-blooded Americans; that the first thing Barack Obama did as president was make an "apology tour" in which he bowed down to the King of Saudi Arabia. (By the way, there are a couple thousand photos of our current president doing precisely the same thing just a couple of weeks ago . . . with nary a peep from you or your sources of information.)
And the glory of it all is that whomsoever challenges, brings forth facts, statistics or real-world proof that much of what the alt-right Trumpeters profess is simply not true . . . those folks (myself included) will be attacked, negated and thrown by the wayside because their (our) facts, statistics and real-world proofs are the product of "fake news." We are accused of being snotty, snobbish elitists and globalists who care not a whit about morality and good old American values.
Let me ask all those who, after nearly a half year, still believe that '45 is the greatest POTUS in American history and that Barack Obama was the worst, most corrupt and traitorous president of all time . . . let me ask you a handful of questions:
- Being absolutely truthful, are you more a) pro-Trump and all he proclaims to stand for or b) anti anything dealing with Obama, Clinton and all they seem to have accomplished?
- Are you really, truly proud to have Donald Trump representing America on the world stage?
- Do you really, truly believe that a billionaire businessman understands the plight of a struggling, largely forgotten middle-class better than anyone else?
- Do you really, truly believe that making sure the wealthiest 1% acquire even more wealth through enormous tax cuts is going to net you, your family and neighbor jobs that will permit you to own your own home, send your children to college and put away enough for retirement?
- Do you really, truly believe that those who cannot afford health insurance should be on their own?
- Do you really, truly believe that all the millions of jobs we've lost to China, Pakistan, the Philippines and other countries are going to be coming back to America? And if they don't, are you satisfied that spending federal dollars on retraining workers for new jobs is wrong?
- Do you really, truly think there's a serious problem with voter fraud in the country despite the fact that every reliable study shows that it's rarer than winning a super ball lottery?
- Do you really, truly believe that this country is under attack close to be taken over by the forces of terror and evil?
I understand your anger and fear. You are angry because America and the world of the past few decades is not at all the same as America and the world you used to know. "There's a world of difference between "My Three Sons" and "Transparent." There are far too many "foreigners," and far too few patriots; one whole hell of a lot of men publicly proclaiming their love for men and far too many females announcing they are really males . . . and on and on. Yes, I certainly do understand your anger and fear; today is not at all like yesterday. But America has long been a country which accepts challenges presented by the new and the changing, and arms itself with energy and optimism. We have two choices: to arm ourselves in order to conquer the future, or to spend our days figuring out whose to "blame." Historically our presidents have, more often than not, spurred us on to the light of a new day, not condemned us to fear new-fangled corners of darkness.
I'm sorry that the vast, overwhelming majority of people who live with anger and fear will never read this essay . . or indeed, ever pay attention to those who look at the world through different eyes. They have been schooled to believe that we are evil, immoral and anti-American. We are not - or at least should not be - enemies of one another, because when all is said and done, we are all members of a country with a glorious (though complex) past who seek to conquer the future for the good of the nation, and ideally, for the good of the entire world.
170 days down, 1,287 to go.
Copyright©2017 Kurt F. Stone