Divisiveness

I have paid more attention to this primary presidential race than any previous race in my life.  I paid a lot of attention to the 2008 election, where I was a strong supporter of libertarian Ron Paul.  My perception at the time was that most of the candidates sounded the same to me, aside from Paul.  I didn't like most of the Republicans running against him and I certainly didn't like any of the Democrats.

Aside from being liberal now, instead of conservative, I feel very differently about the election this year.  To me there is a marked difference between the behavior, the dialogue, and the campaign of the Democrat candidates and the Republican candidates.  I have watched three or four of the Republican debates and several of the Democratic debates and town halls.  Without exception, every Democrat debate has been a respectful event.  The candidates did disagree on many issues, and they even interrupted each other and their voices even grew mildly irritated at some times.  But they addressed each other by title and with respect.  They were civil in their discussion and kept the conversation on the issues rather than on personal attacks against each other.

The Republican debates have been very different.  The first one was bad and they just went downhill from there.  They call each other names, they yell over each other, they insult and slander each other.  And at one point, Trump even referred to his penis size during the debate.  It has been disastrous.

However, aside from the difference between Democrats being respectful of one another and Republicans being childish, I have noticed a huge difference in the way in which the candidates have campaigned.  In the video below, if you haven't already watched it, you will see Bill Clinton (campaigning for his wife) talking about bringing people together.  Bernie Sanders has made many similar comments himself.  Both of the candidates still in the Democrat primary race are saying similar things about bringing people together.  We want people of every race, religion, background, etc.  They talk about unity.  They talk about love and acceptance.

Contrast this with the rhetoric found on the Right.  The Republican candidates invent scapegoats to blame problems on.  They talk about how evil Muslims are.  They denounce the sin of homosexuality, calling gays sinners (and even saying that gays need to be stoned to death).  They make enemies of undocumented immigrants and refugees.  They look for bogeymen wherever they can find them.  They do not talk about unity or love.  They talk about segregation.  They talk about banning Muslims from the country and deporting immigrants.  They hated Chris Christie for hugging Obama--they treat Democrats as the enemy and teach that cooperation with the Left is basically treason.

The thing that stands out to me is this.  Politicians may change their tune when they're elected.  They may violate their promises made during their campaign.  They may be unable to accomplish what they wished to due to opposition.  But the people who support them generally agree with the things that they say while they are campaigning.  So this is what really frightens me.  The people who are supporting Republicans are very different from the people who are supporting Democrats.  The Democrat candidates talk of love and unity, and Democrat voters share these values and wish to achieve greater unity in the country--more tolerance and acceptance.  The Republican candidates talk of building walls to keep people out, of undoing laws which promote equality for gays and transgendered people.  And the people who vote for them share these values.  They believe that people who are different are dangerous.  They believe that Muslims are violent people.  They believe that gays are immoral.  They believe that immigrants are criminals and that refugees are terrorists.  They are afraid of those who are different and don't want unity--they want segregation.

This is what really disheartens--and frightens--me.  I know that what the candidates say is (at least in part, and perhaps in large) a reflection of the voter base to whom they are trying to appeal.  And so I know that Republican voters want division, because that is what the candidates are saying.  And it's sad.  It's disappointing and it's very frustrating.  I want a society where all people feel welcomed, loved, and have a place to fit in--whether they are white or brown or black, whether they are Hindu or Christian, whether they were born in the USA or moved here from another country.  I want everyone to be allowed to live eir own life and not be oppressed or persecuted for doing so.  I want a society with more love, more understanding, and less hatred and bigotry.



"We can open the door to every person in this country again." —President Bill Clinton
Posted by Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, March 15, 2016