I took one of those Facebook quizzes awhile back and was moderately surprised to learn that I was "Moderately Liberal" in my political leanings (If leanings is a word). Now if you were to poll a cross section of people who know me you would get some widely contradicting opinions about this statement. For those with whom I hunt and fish I am known as an avid outdoors-man, gun owner and property rights advocate. I am also considered to have a strong attitude toward fiscal policy and don't really care for an invasive and over large Government. Because of these ideas there are those who consider me more than a little conservative. On the other hand I agree with many that we live in a rich and powerful country and it's appalling that we have so much poverty and hunger in our nation. It's also apparent to me that because of the mindless greed and self serving attitude of many that we need to have regulations to curb and at least make some attempt to avoid the disastrous policies of the last eight years. Those ideas would make me a bleeding heart liberal in the eyes of many. Here is the thing, I AM NEITHER, my beliefs over the spectrum of issues in the world are very diverse and do not define me as right or left or in any way pigeon hole me with a particular ideology. In fact I believe that a large majority of the country is divided along a very narrow line and that we are actually very close to agreeing on almost all issues. Right after the election, I wrote a post entitled The Election is over...and we are still HERE! After hard fought primaries and a contentious election, it looked like we were going to experience some civility and maybe have some non-partisan attempts to compromise and even make some progress together. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort took place...
In my opinion, the attempt to divide or Balkanize the American public is the work of those who have an agenda that is not entirely in the best interests of our country as a whole. It is disturbing to me that based on one or two beliefs I find that people I know, pundits on the news, talk radio and TV "Infotainers" from both sides will excoriate me and a large part of the population for not being "American" enough to support them, no matter how ridiculous. To not agree completely and blindly with the various extreme points of view automatically demonizes anyone who does not go along. To vilify others based on a few differences of opinion is a cheap shot and reminiscent of the tactics of Joe McCarthy back in the 50's. This is absurd because issues are not black and white and that kind of thinking only exists in comic books. We live in a Democracy NOT a Theocracy. We have a separation of church and state to protect us from the same sort of ideology that resulted in the Spanish Inquisition and the Taliban. And it's just as bad when you hear the hateful ideas of any Minister or Preacher who takes something from any religious book out of context and uses it to promote a self serving agenda. Extremism is divisive and usually plays on FEAR. Unfortunately fear works, especially on those who are uninformed or find it easier to follow the claims of anyone who happens to have an"opinion du jour" without actually investigating the FACTS.
The use of distortion, obfuscation and outright lying by different groups in an attempt to manipulate the public and the elected representatives has become inexcusable. Like the man in the cartoon above, there is a lot of "yelling at clouds" and very little effort to deal with facts or work in the spirit of compromise. In fact I was always told that when the volume goes up the IQ drops exponentially! I find it alarming that the level of discourse in our debates has deteriorated to name calling, making false and misleading statements, shouting down the opposition and as my Grandmother use to note "displaying a complete lack of manners". When Rep. Joe Wilson screamed out "You lie!" I was dismayed and thought that it was, to put it simply, trashy behavior! And frankly, while I am on this soap box I am very disappointed in the so called leaders on both sides of the aisle in Congress who have failed to get anything done as well as the talking heads who continue to encourage the politics of "NO". It's as if we are witnessing the death of common sense. After all, the media hosts are in business to make money and maintain ratings. I read somewhere that Rush Limbaugh had a $400,000,000 contract. Heck I could probably keep people stirred up and would even do it for half the money?!?! And the left also has it's share of loud mouthed screamers! My cynical side wants me to think that BIG MONEY has paid EVERYONE and that as voters we are completely ignored. Think about this from a standpoint of how you live in your community, relate to your neighbors and how you conduct your business. In Texas we are known (for the most part) as having pretty good manners as well as for priding ourselves on our quality service. When a customer is not happy there are always consequences. dawdling [noun]: the deliberate act of delaying and playing instead of working. This is the kind of "service" we are getting from Congress. Click on the video below for an old school response to bad manners and "dawdling service". I admit that I get a perverse thrill out of the video but would never actually do that to anyone. It would just nullify anything I said as far as compromise and cooperation. BUT I will say that we all need to start treating each other with some RESPECT. And frankly if anyone acting like Joe Wilson showed up at my house yelling at me, I might just...well, I will leave it to your imagination. The other day I was having lunch with a very good friend who I think highly of and we were talking about some political issues about which we have very differing opinions. It was enough to make the conversation a little bit uncomfortable and we acknowledged this and actually laughed about it and went on and enjoyed a very pleasant time together. I guess it comes down to this, we just have to agree to disagree and continue to maintain friendships and working relationships based on the things we admire and respect about each other. Hopefully, in the long run, common sense will eventually return and we will NOT let media pundits, politicians and lobbyists continue to split us up so harshly. After all we may disagree on a few things but we are still neighbors, associates and citizens of a country that allows us to engage in any type of discussion in as heated a manner as we can without encouraging violence and that's something that will always make our nation great!
Let's remember the things that unite us and ignore those who would divide us for their own selfish reasons!