I will own this: I am politically left of center. I’m not sure I’d call myself a liberal, but maybe. I am definitely sad and scared about the election results, and the candidates I voted for for president and senator were not elected. I am definitely not happy about federal legislation I expect to see in the next 2+ years.
But I am also very saddened by the childish bullying, sarcasm, and demonizing that I am seeing happening on both sides right now. I am sick and tired of being called a “libtard.” I am sick and tired of jokes about orange skin and small hands. This whole brouhaha about attendance at the inauguration is sickening to me. Saying that attendance was low because “Trump supporters actually have jobs” is a childish response. Saying that a white area in the middle of one of the inauguration photos was actually people in Klan outfits is a childish response. Making an issue about the size of the inauguration crowd is, quite frankly, childish. Liberals are doing it, conservatives are doing it, the media is doing it, and the president’s press secretary is doing it. This is not a helpful focus for us to have.
Claiming that the Women’s Marches were just a bunch of people complaining and whining is a childish response. That said, some of the signs that were carried were also childish: “super callous fascist racist extra braggadocious”? “I’ve seen smarter cabinets at IKEA”? These don’t help.
I would like to learn how to have discussions with people whose thoughts and opinions differ from mine. But that is so hard. Because here’s where we seem to be right now:
- If you disagree with me, you are STUPID.
- If you disagree with me, the media you pay attention to LIES to you and IS FAKE. And you are STUPID for paying attention to them.
- Only people on my side are patriotic. The rest of you either hate America, or hate what America truly stands for. Definitely, if you disagree with me, you are a HATER.
- The people on my side are the real VICTIMS here. YOUR PEOPLE have been victimizing us, and we’re tired of you telling us you’re the victims.
Both sides are saying all these things! And none of it is helpful! We’re all dividing the country into two categories: STUPID HATERS vs. PATRIOTIC VICTIMS. And we aren’t recognizing that the other side has divided it the exact same way, but with the labels switched.
I don’t know. It’s like watching a baseball game. At a baseball game, of course half the crowd is happy when the home team scores, and the other half is happy when the visitors score. Of course, your preferred team is the “right” team. That’s sports. That’s the way it is. But if you’re a huge fan of one team, and you start proclaiming that the other team, or its fans, are stupid and hateful, and that they have victimized you, then you’ve taken it way, way too far. I can remember when my father took me to my very first major league baseball game, in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The Phillies (our preferred team, of course) lost to the Dodgers. I remember afterward having this daydream of Mr. T going to the Dodgers’ dugout on my behalf and beating them up, because it wasn’t fair that my team lost. I stand by this daydream: this was actually an appropriate thing for me to expect. You know why? Because I was eight years old.
But this isn’t sports. This is our nation. This is about what laws are passed to increase or decrease taxes, how those tax dollars will be used, who is going to receive assistance through them, who is going to have what rights. And we aren’t eight years old. It’s time for us all, on all sides of the political spectrum, to grow up. Not to let go of our values and beliefs. Not to “accept that the other side won, and shut up.” But to find ways to talk about this that don’t devolve to schoolyard name-calling and bullying. To stop saying that any news that you disagree with is therefore “fake.” Fake news is not partisan…fake news is clickbait garbage on the internet, moronic headlines that any adult should be able to see through. Use your brain: Hillary Clinton is not running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop. Use your brain: Donald Trump suppporters did not chant in Manhattan, “We hate Muslims, we hate blacks, we want our great country back.” That’s fake news. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News: those are partisan news sources (less so CNN, but certainly the other two), not fake news. Take what they say with a pinch of salt, but don’t throw it out.
I didn’t want to write this post. I am so scared that I’m going to get attacked for it. I’m so scared that someone else will view it as an attack. I find it so tempting to just keep my mouth shut. But that’s a childish response too, running away from things that scare me. And I am trying to do things that scare me. I’m trying to do things I’m not good at. I guess I’m doing this with the tiniest bit of hope that I can find some hope out there that we can actually talk about these things like grown-ups. I’m trying to find the tiniest bit of hope that being a grown-up actually means what I thought it did when I was young. I hope this hasn’t come across smug or self-righteous. If it has, I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention. Feel free to tell me to grow up!