After the elections last week, I spent a good deal of time discussing with a variety of people the outcome. Now, I've long since realized that even though I disagree with those with the opposing political viewpoint, I recognize many have very logical arguments for why they believe what they believe. Take, for instance, homelessness. More liberal people may think some people in this situation are not responsible, and tend to look at increasing the number of jobs, minimum wage, low-income housing, and access to mental health drugs as means to lessen this problem. More conservative people may look to increase overall business success in hopes it affects the unemployed ( the "trickle down" theory of economics, I believe), and will look to fixing our distribution so that some homeless will stop abusing the system and take responsibility to get jobs for themselves. Now, you may agree with one camp or the other, but both sides would agree that homelessness is a problem.
Yet, last week, I ran into a handful of very educated people that would blatantly stereotype the opposite party. After pointing out that for the first time there would be a woman as Speaker of the House (something I thought would be less politically charged), one guy responded , "Yeah, but she's a commie". WHAT?? I didn't even know we still used that term in a derogatory sense.
After commenting that there would be the first Muslim congressman, he responded , "Yeah, he was a Black Panther." Well, I go on to find out that he's pretty moderate on his official stances about the Middle East, and endorsed by a few Jewish groups. Now common, did that guy even look into these people himself before blatantly stereotyping them? It seems more likely that he believed a one word description of them passed on by some biased media outlet, on the sole basis that they belonged to the Democratic party.
Don't think this only applies to the conservatives this election either. My sister was mad that people only voted against the Republicans when Iraq started to go sour and Bush couldn't weasel his way out of his lies anymore, and not because of all the human rights abuses against detainees in Guantanamo or the bias in the patriot act. People just didn't care about these things. I think one of the biggest reasons Dems lost in 2004 was because of this kind of liberal superiority complex, that writes most of the country off as being too ignorant to care about important social issues. Well, hell, last time we checked every adult in this country get the right to vole, and yes, people have different priorities for candidates. But just because someone cares more about having enough food to feed her family or takes a tough stance on national security doesn't mean she doesn't care about human rights violations. When you vote, however, you don't get to vote for someone with all of your beliefs, you have to prioritize and vote for someone who represents a lot of them.
I guess my point in all of this is that I'm terribly disappointed in others' ability to converse. To have a political discussion, without being angry at the other person for not agreeing with you. To have a strong political opinion, that's actually backed up with acknowledging the rationale behind multiple sides. I'm not saying we have to always agree on everything. What we do have to do, however, is listen. Because really, democracy runs the smoothest when politicians discuss viewpoints and have many different opinions involved in making a law. That's a whole lot better than the mudslinging campaigns we saw for this election and the usual back and forth political bantering after a law has been made. Then maybe individuals will stop mimicking these disgraceful attitudes outside the political arena as well.