American Idiot

idiotAs I was surfing Facebook, I saw an acquaintance’s claim that Romney was trying to take us back to the days of Ozzie and Harriet. It was a curious response to the debate. Some conservatives might look on those times as the good old days and some liberals regard then as backward times. In reality, it was mixture of both. They were good times economically and bad days for social justice.

Another friend informed me yesterday that we should pick a Libyan embassy somewhere in the world and bomb it to the ground, right after we kick out all of the Libyans in this country. He was deadly serious and very passionate. Our weakness abroad has made the world a more dangerous place, but my friend’s “solution” sounds more like revenge than justice. 

My own mother warned me about “that millionaire” and said, “They say he told one lie after another.”

Even Big Bird is involved in the campaign!

I hate political parties, childish, multi-million dollar campaigns, and news outlets that don’t challenge or investigate the “information” they are fed. But perhaps, most troubling is the person who thinks someone who disagrees with him is an idiot. It’s really easy to do. I have certainly been guilty of it.

Our nation is obviously, rather evenly polarized and it’s been that way so long that we are calcified. Certain states are always red or blue. Easterners and blacks are Democrats. Midwesterners and suburbanites are Republicans. Being equally divided is great if it enriches the debate, but there isn’t much real debate. There is name calling, fear-mongering, vilification, focusing on small issues, and lying which leads to more entrenchment and each side becoming more extreme.

I avail myself to diverse news sources every day. My politics has changed significantly a couple of times in the last few years. I have conservative friends and liberal friends, but I always feel like I am in the minority. Sometimes my opinions are too nuanced for either side. I “milk a lot of cows, but make my own cheese.” I am a mish-mash of perspectives. On some things, I have changed. On others, I have stayed the same as years ago. On several things, I am uncertain.

I suggest that we be weary of becoming partisan lackeys.  Here’s how you can tell if you are one.

  • You have a steady, solitary news intake of Fox News or MSNBC.
  • You think liberals or conservatives are all idiots
  • You make the campaign about little things, like Big Bird.
  • You subtly value style over substance, like Obama being cool and Romney being a bit stiff.
  • You never seriously consider or evaluate the role of government. A lot of people agree on the problems, but disagree about how they should be addressed by the federal government.
  • You think that half of the nation (Democrats or Republicans) should legislate and govern the whole nation, without consultation from those who disagree. That’s just semi-civilized tribalism.
  • You can’t be civil and value a person with whom you ardently disagree. 

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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