Politics is a nasty business.
Dirty campaigns, media frenzy, he said-she said. It’s all part of the game. But, at some point all of that began to get personal – and it wasn’t just something that went on between candidates, it began to involve those candidates’ supporters. And, it wasn’t just a matter of disagreeing with one another, but rather became attacks by many on anyone who didn’t agree exactly with their point of view or with the candidate they deemed to be the best.
I’m not sure exactly when things changed, but I do know when it first reared its ugly head with me. It was in 2008, when Barack Obama was first running for president, and I was concerned – I didn’t think he had the experience, I was concerned about what I perceived was an arrogance, I didn’t believe he was a good choice.
At that time, I was a regular on a site called SodaHead, where you can post questions and discuss others. It was there I learned about the true nastiness of politics and, for the first time in my life, became the victim of bullying. Because it was there that I learned that some Obama supporters believed if you did not support Obama you were a racist, plain and simple.
It didn’t matter if I had legitimate and factual arguments about my position, it didn’t matter about who I was or what I believed. It was, ironically, very black and white for these people. I was a bigot – I, who had always believed in and fought for equality for others. It got heated, it was personal. Facts didn’t matter and neither did anything else. I finally quit the site because of the unrelenting messages and posts – a barrage of abuse that was not based on any kind of truths or facts.
Obama supporters aren’t the only ones guilty of this kind of behavior, however. Look around at any party, basically any candidate, and you find the same. It doesn’t matter what party you’re talking about, there are very few discussions about politics anymore. In a world where we are so politically divided, hatred seems to spring up at the drop of a hat.
And, it’s not just candidates – Obama, Donald Trump, Mary Fallin. It’s also issues, whether it’s gun control, Planned Parenthood or the Middle East, there it is, out in the open and without any shame. Hate, ridicule, bullying. “Believe what I believe or you are stupid, worthless, wrong, evil.” Etc., etc., etc.
It’s not just speaking to others in chat groups or in person – look on social media, and it won’t take long until you find a post, a meme that talks about another person or group with hatred or bigotry. These are perfectly nice people in many ways, but their right to express their opinions has devolved into attacking others.
Is that bullying? In my view, yes. Why must we use hatred and cruelty to get our points across? Does anyone believe that these kinds of posts, verbal or written attacks, will really change anyone’s mind? No, I don’t believe so. They believe what they believe and they don’t care who they hurt when they express it.
Does that mean I believe people shouldn’t be able to share their beliefs or support for a particular candidate or cause? Of course not. It’s just the way they’re presented, the fact that with these postings these individuals are confirming every horrible thing other groups might think of us. We accuse others of this behavior, but we are completely oblivious when we do the same.
The question is – can we stop it? I hope so, but for the first time in my life, I really have my doubts. And, that’s horrible, for our children and those who come after them.