Lowering the Bar

This article in the New York Times today really p*ssed me off.

As I have expressed before, I admit that my political views are not moderate. However, I like to think that I can be respectful of others. Just last night, Gillian was challenging me to try to reach across the political divide in the blogosphere and engage with social conservatives to try to find some middle ground, or at least try to have a respectful dialog with people.

But all week I have been listening to the analysis of the lies that the McCain campaign is telling about Obama and the Democratic Party platform, and I get a little impatient. Then I read the story on Salon about what people in small town America think about Obama. It is so frustrating that these people look the truth in the eye and continue to believe that Obama isn’t Christian like them. And they also choose to believe McCain’s lies that Obama intends to raise taxes on the middle class, when what he really wants to do is tax the rich.

The Republicans are again having huge success in convincing people to vote against their own interests.

This is all bad enough, but then there is this article in the Times about Obama waffle mix, depicting a racist stereotype in his image, and another one of him dressed in Muslim garb.

I’m ashamed of these Americans. This makes me feel incredibly hopeless about the state of American political discourse. How could I possibly engage in any kind of meaningful dialog without having the desire to scream, throw up my hands, and say some equally offensive things right back?

Someone on FriendFeed responded to all of this by saying that he was disgusted with the hate that was flying back and forth from either side against each other. I agree people have stooped to some pretty ugly lows on the left, but at least their actions are not being sanctioned by anyone who represents the Democratic Party.

The racist waffle mix was sold at the Values Voters Summit in a booth sponsored by the lobbying arm homophobic Family Research Council. Speakers at this event included Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. The New York Times article says that people didn’t realize that there was anything offensive about this product, and I do not believe them. Even if it were true, there ignorance is not an excuse. In the words of MLK:

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Not to mention that calling Obama a waffler is like the pot calling the kettle, er, black. But I digress.

I hold out hope that those on the left and right can try to find some middle ground, but how can we even begin to trust each other at all when people are doing and saying stuff like this? They ought to be ashamed.

Surely we are a better nation than this.

One thought on “Lowering the Bar

  1. David

    I’m beginning to feel that what you describe is nothing less than our evolutionary challenge. Those times when I want to scream into my republican friends’ faces, “How do you remain so willfully ignorant?!!” are times when I must bow my head and pray for patience, quiet and peace. And it’s sooooo hard.

    In this light I was particularly struck by Mr. Obama’s performance at the debates last Friday. While Mr. McCain was franticallly throwing every lie, misquote, mischaracterization and re-frame he could at Mr. Obama, Barack kept patiently steering the conversation back to talk about substance, truth and facts. His demeanor was calm, at peace and seemed to be coming from a place of service to whatever the moment brought him. My favorite moment was when McCain was have trouble pronouncing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and you could here Barack – in the middle of this critical debate – supportively say, “That’s a tough one.”

    At the risk of putting too fine a point on it I really felt like he was truly trying to practice peace in every moment.

    This was a revelation to me.


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