Sunday, March 28, 2010
We May be Experiencing a Little Turbulance up Ahead--So Please be Advised to Fasten Your Seatbelt
Let it be said here that contentious folks are to be found on either side of our country's political divide. My purpose in relating the story above is simply to provide a backdrop for three points I am anxious to make about the current political climate: First, why the presidency of Mr. Obama is not operating on a non-partisan basis and bringing us together as promised. Second, why political correctness and partisan attacks may soon reach levels heretofore not seen in our lifetimes. And last, why it is that the political left has a far higher percentage of haters in its ranks than does the right.
It should now be glaringly obvious to even the most hopeful Obama supporter that, rather than us seeing our country being happily brought together by a compromising, conciliating, middle-way, political-peace-making president, we are instead witnessing our political and social fabric being agonizingly torn asunder. This tearing has been brought about as a result of the radical changes to our societal structure passed much too rapidly into law using highly unorthodox and undemocratic means and in a purely partisan fashion. This ram-rod approach has troubled a majority of our citizens and roused very deep concerns on the part of many. Some are even quite angry over what they consider the latest, and largest, of a series of unconstitutional power grabs by an administration they view as bent on fundamentally altering the foundational principles of our governmental and economic system.
Political correctness has always been around in one form or another. In a nutshell is is a prevailing political atmosphere which grows to so dominate civic and cultural life that one who expresses opinions contrary to it may be subject to social "penalties" ranging anywhere from subtle blacklisting to being--in the current political climate--labeled a racist, sexist or homophobe, or even to facing actual civil--or even criminal--penalties. The major institutions of our culture; education, mainstream news media and government, are all purveyors and enforcers of the current left-dominated political correctness. This has been the case at least since the mid-1980s--and in some respects even prior to then. Now however, it seems that political correctness has reached a critical mass and, rather than those in power feeling secure and sanguine in their newly acquired position of power, they seem instead to feel all the more threatened and defensive. Thus, anyone with strong objections to the current government take-overs of large sectors of the economy are now being labeled as somehow "dangerous' or "anti-government." This is a common tactic of those seeking to marginalize and demonize their opponents. I believe we can expect much more of this. We should be ready for it. As I indicated, this ride may get very bumpy.
In conversation with some of my friends on the political or theological left, they will sometimes make reference to "right wing hate" most often citing Rush Limbaugh as their prime example. Compared to any left-wing counterpoint one might want to name--for example anyone on the former Air America network--Mr. Limbaugh is a gentleman's gentleman when it comes to political discourse. My friends on the left seem genuinely incredulous when I give them my testimony that I have found a wonderfully tolerant attitude among conservatives and far, far less hatred that I had known--and practiced--in my sojourn with the political left. The reasons for this are numerous, but the plain and main reason for the greater volume of hatred on the left, as compared to the right, is simply that the right views people on the left as essentially like themselves, only people who happen to be in the grip of mistaken or bad ideas. Those on the left however, view those on the right as unlike themselves--and as bad or evil people. Hating and expressing hatred can have a cathartic aspect to it and is, in a perverse way, enjoyable and even--also in a perverse way--self-affirming. I know from personal experience. I used to love to hate the right and all conservatives and conservative institutions: traditional churches, their leaders and members; all political groups to the right of my perspective; the Boy Scouts, the military, police, all corporations, big business and of course greedy capitalism in general--and all the middle class "droids" who helped in any way support these institutions. That was quite a vast number of people for me to hate. Seems though I was quite up to the challenge and felt quite self-righteous in the process.
It may be necessary for me to remind the reader that I am fully aware of the fact of right-wing anger and hatred. My whole point though--my assertion based upon experience--is that, as a percentage of the whole, the haters on the right are by far a much smaller percentage than those on the left. Speaking for myself, there were two big factors which kept me from transferring the hatred I once enjoyed--yes, I did enjoy it!--on the left to the other side of the political avenue. One was my newly-acquired Christian value system and the other was the entrenched conservative tradition of respectful civility I found to be firmly in place when I arrived at my new political home. I must confess that from time to time I have been tempted, especially in times past, to backslide back into a clenched-fist approach to political activism, but each time, before very long, I'd find myself relaxing that inner clenched fist as I am reminded, by my Lord and by respected conservative leaders, that although we may be called to the political ramparts, we are always to fight as happy warriors who are to love even our enemies as we go about subjecting their ideas only, and not their persons, to our assaults. This is the happy warrior tradition I am proud to be associated with, and the one I wish--and will work--to see maintained as we move into this next episode of our country's history.