When did we all start hating each other so much?
When did we become a country where the folks on the other side of arguments from us were not only wrong, they were stupid … and ultimately evil? Because if you think about it, that’s the real problem. Too many of us — myself included at times — are so sure of our basic rightness that anyone who isn’t with us is someone to be ignored, ridiculed, defeated and humiliated.
W. couldn’t just be a bad president. He had to be the worst president in American history, or as I actually heard one person on the left say a couple of years ago, the worst person ever elected to run a country anywhere.
Barack Obama couldn’t just be less than effective at getting things done. He had to be unfit to run a Dairy Queen, let alone a country.
And in perhaps the height of irony, after liberals spent years comparing Bush to, conservatives started using the same comparison for Obama when he took office.
Someone has to be wrong.
The fact is, they both are. It’s impossible to study Hitler and not realize that he took evil far beyond anything anyone in this country has ever done. Even the true villains in our history — who will remain unnamed in this piece — fall far short of what happened in the Third Reich.
I’m not sure there are many people in the mainstream in this country — or even outside it — who would countenance sending their enemies to the ovens. But there certainly are people both in the media and in politics who are using more and more apocalyptic language about what will happen if we don’t follow their path.
Too many of those same people have stopped appealing to our better angels and are focusing on our fears. This often happens during difficult times, especially involving complex issues, when demagogues on both sides tell us that complicated problems can have simple solutions.
I don’t know if the hatred conservatives seem to feel toward Obama is exacerbated by the fact that he is African-American or if it’s just that the president’s mixed race has brought a different group of haters out from the damp, dark places they usually inhabit. But when I hear people on the right say that they don’t know if America can survive four more years of Obama, I remember people on the left saying some of the same things about Bush leading up to the 2004 elections.
The heart of the problem is that folks on the left don’t seem to accept the fact that folks on the right might love America just as much as they do, and vice versa. You don’t have to be liberal or conservative to be a good American, but you do have to accept the fact that other people have the same rights as you do as Americans.
You can ridiculeLimbaugh or , but that doesn’t do anything to make this country a better place for anyone. Not one person was very fed by a nasty call to a talk show, and not one child was ever educated by someone calling someone else un-American.
We may be at a critical point in our history, where we either have to find ways to pay for things we want — like Medicare — or watch them fall apart and fade away. There is certainly a movement on one side to eliminate government programs that form what we call our “safety net,” but it doesn’t have to be an either-or situation.
It does have to be a debate in which each side accepts the other’s American-ness.
Otherwise, we all lose.