Sunday, January 31, 2016

Don't Be a Hater

Watching the primary campaigns play out here in the U.S., I have begun to wonder whether we human beings are programmed to be haters and attackers. Maybe it's something primeval, dating back to our hunter-caveman days. I sure hope it's not innate.

You might think I'm talking about the Republican primary, populated as it is by rabid bigots, homophobes, racists and misogynists, whose various campaigns have been endorsed by the KKK, so-called "pastors" who think all gays should be put to death and other so-called "spiritual leaders" who claim God will kill all Jews who don't accept Jesus. (I'm a fiction-writer and even I couldn't make this stuff up.)

No, I'm talking about the Democratic primary campaign, where Hillary-supporters attack Bernie with a virulence that's matched only by the apparent hatred that Bernie supporters have for Hillary. Of course, overblown rhetoric has been the hallmark of every election campaign every fought. But this feels different.

When Bernie's supporters proclaim that they will stay home before voting for Hillary as president and Hillary supporters make equally foolish statements about what they'll do if Bernie is nominated, you have to wonder what these people are smoking. 

There is no such thing as perfect candidate, any more than there is such a thing as a perfect human being. Every political candidate throughout history has been flawed. Bernie is flawed. Hillary is flawed. Each comes in to this campaign with baggage, and should one of them be elected President, she or he will have to govern not only based on campaign promises but on the messy reality of Washington politics.

But to dismiss the other candidate's flaws as fatal is to ignore what is really at stake in this primary season, not to mention in the election season that will follow. If you as a Democrat (or Independent or compassionate Republican) believe that any of the GOP nominees would make a better president than either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, then by all means sit on your hands (or vote Republican). 

What you'll be voting for, through your action or inaction, is a theocratically leaning government that treats its women and minorities as, at best, second-class citizens. And you'll be voting in a President (whichever Republican it is) who will nominate Supreme Court justices that will uphold these restrictive, retrogressive and retrograde policies for generations to come.

If you think I'm exaggerating, pay closer attention than perhaps you have been not only to what the Republican nominees have been saying but to what kinds of groups and individuals are publicly supporting them. 

Then ask yourself how you would feel living in a country under any of the Republican nominees for president were you an immigrant, a raped woman seeking an abortion, a homeless or suicidal teenager disowned by his parents for being gay, a Muslim attacked on the street because of her religion, a Jew being blamed for the Holocaust that wiped out his family or a soldier being sent to war only to be stripped of her benefits when she returns home.

Whether you're "feeling the Bern" or supporting Hillary, don't sit this election out if your candidate doesn't make it to the final ballot. Don't be a hater. There are enough haters out there, and this country doesn't need another one. This world doesn't need another one, especially in the White House. 


Virginia said...

I'll vote for whichever Democratic candidate reaches the top. But like you, I really hate the way Hillary and Bernie supporters are turning on each other. They should really be working together to make sure another Democrat makes it into the Oval Office.

Debbie said...

You answer your opening thoughts with your negative name-calling, labeling and categorizing people who don't agree with you as fearful and hateful. The shame is when the freedom we are allowed in this United States of America to hold and voice opposing views is somehow cause for shutting down debate and creating an atmosphere of hate and bullying.

Mark David Gerson said...

Debbie: I would never describe all Republicans as hateful, fear-mongering or bullies. Many, perhaps even most are thoughtful people whose views and mine don't coincide. That's as it should be in a democracy.

However, the rhetoric of the campaigning for the Republican nomination does not reflect anything remotely thoughtful or respectful. Rather, it has been marked by angry vitriol that has nothing to do with bringing Americans together. Instead, too much of the language been about scapegoating, bullying and, yes, hate.

As a member of several minority groups, each of which has been targeted directly or indirectly by various of the Republican candidates, I am deeply disturbed by the unequivocal message who that I don't belong here and that my rights are irrelevant.