A short while ago, I got into a slightly political discussion with my dad. He repeats an occasional talking point or other invective he’s likely been spammed with by other retirees in his comfortable subdivision. The man (and his cohorts) have done the hard work and are now coasting on it – most of them on Social Security and some sort of retirement account. Medicine is also available to them at a discounted rate, and yet, they were incensed about Hillary.
In talking to my dad, I know I’d be starting at square one in discussing the Patriarchy with him, and he’d resist. Actually considering stuff he’s never had to, especially now – when nothing should be difficult for him, is kind of rough. And I know my dad – I don’t believe he’s racist, misogynistic, or xenophobic in reality, at his core. Confronted with a gay man or a Muslim woman, he’d be nervous to say something to offend them. But his pals do what I do on Facebook or in chat rooms – they form a bubble. He can opt in and say stuff he’s heard since he was a kid in rural Wisconsin, or he can be the liberal castaway on his block without a whole lot of research or repetition to back himself up.
I think there are a lot of people in his shoes. Feeling like they’ve accomplished something and someone is trying to diminish or destroy it. The Muslims are trying to literally explode it, the poor are using my dad’s hard earned money to buy crack, and the entire government is made up of liars and criminals.
Then, you look at Fox News and realize they had an inclination that this would be coming. The folks crying loudest about entitlements feeling entitled to the most patriotism and freedom. The grandmas and grandpas talking about the good old days, while forgetting what their grandpas and grandmas used to say about their good old days. There are entire networks devoted to feeding these folks, and I think it started well before Fox News.
But, before I get too far off course, I want to make the point that there’s a difference between media and journalism. I don’t recall hearing one person talk about “liberal journalism” in place of “liberal media”. That’s not to say that all journalism is objective or infallible or unbiased. I’ve had a problem with the notion that the news is dependent on advertisers for decades. If people demand the product, more advertisers will come, and thus more operating income (and, perhaps, a bonus). When a news organization can determine which types of stories grab the largest number of eyeballs, you can bet they’ll go back to that well.
I have always presumed that people generally get more emotional impact from seeing other people suffer (after the fact, scrubbed of too much ickyness). And so, we see murders, travesties, and other abhorrent behavior from the top of the hour to the start of the weather segment. Outside of holiday seasons, positive news items are pretty rare. I think the news (even the stuff with journalistic integrity) has always trended heavily toward the negative.
This is a significant factor in how Donald Trump got elected. He said time and time again that the election was rigged, and he was right – he rigged it! There is no more liberal media than there is conservative media. Well, maybe a little more – like maybe the difference in the popular vote. But, the conservative talk show folks and internet pugilists would have you think that save for one or two outlets, every other media source is a left-wing shill. I think there are significant voices on both sides, and I find them equally useless. I learn nothing from talking heads calling each other names over things that are supposed and not real. Or, over things that are possibly real, but isolated and taken out of context.
Here’s why I started this post, however: I want to implore with everyone I reach to try to tame the rhetoric and start talking logistics without invectives and knee-jerk reactions. Let’s calm it all down and talk rationally about how things affect us, and how we’d like to see them go. People we know voted for Donald Trump. Makes you reconsider your friends and family a little, but going at them with both barrels only widens the divide and helps Ailes, Bannon, and the Trump children continue to vault their figurehead into the history books. They would love for us to provide appalling anti-Trump stories, call them names – essentially to take the heel role.
I say we take the high road. Name calling is not allowed in grade school, and it really doesn’t move anything along in politics. A respectful debate, or a chat at a tavern allows ideas to develop, as opposed to the polar nature of our system, which requires the chatters to be on constant defense. Let’s drop that and listen. Cooperative versus anti. Let’s find the middle ground, or at least a reasonable place to part ways knowing what the concerns of our opponent (fellow American) are, and try to be respectful.
In any population, there are going to be assholes. Let’s take the spotlight back off of them and aim it toward where progress is being made. I’m worried about what’s ahead, but I don’t want to do what the racist xenophobes were doing when the first black president took office, assuming that the country would collapse under Obama’s Kenyan, Muslim, Illuminati fist. I don’t hold a lot of hope that we’ll see the best of American politics in the coming years, but I’ll wait to pass judgment on the actual stuff as it happens, rather than speculate.