Everybody knows that. The maybe 30 percent who don’t like it much (that’s what Obama got in vote percentage in Greater Rome the last time around) know it best of all. They are the new “Silent Majority” as most of them don’t dare say a word about politics except around those whom they know are of a similar mind.
If they do speak up in “mixed company” of a political nature they are more likely to be derided, called stupid idiots or such than be engaged in a rational adult conversation with someone of different viewpoint. So, they shut up, keep their heads down and maintain a low profile.
And wonder how one Facebook “unfriends” — until Nov. 7 and without them knowing about it — all those who bombard them daily with shared political witticisms akin to the going-potty jokes of 8-year-olds. Or worse.
“I’m worried my car would get keyed,” said one acquaintance about talking politics in mixed elephant/donkey company. “My neighbors would never talk to me again” said another.
THIS IS NOT how American democracy is supposed to work. Passion in politics? Absolutely. Fear of sharing one’s opinion? No. Dealing with pure mindless hatred? No.
Sure, not everybody is that way — on either “side.” However, it is plain that too many are.
One can’t recall another campaign, of such supposed high interest, in which so few bumper stickers and yard signs are visible. A reflection of a “why ask for trouble” mood? Indeed, if current signage locally actually translated into votes then Tim Burkhalter would be our next president.
On the other hand, for those who know their American history, such mindless hatred is something our society has long tried to rise above but not how it was born.
The loyalists/royalists in the time of the Revolution (maybe about 20-30 percent of the male population, those being the only sex anybody paid attention to in that time) were treated very badly (tarred, feathered, roasted alive over fires) by the maybe 40 percent who were on the rebel side.
The other 30 percent or so just tried like heck to stay out of the way of the opposing sides. About the same percentage are classified as “independents” nowadays.
Even now one has to deal with the opinion that “If you are not with us, then you are against us.”
AFTER THE REVOLUTION, most “king’s men” stayed and adjusted but many on the losing side left the newly formed United States — some to Canada or Nova Scotia, some south to Florida (not yet part of the U.S.), some back to England and so forth. There are a lot of Central and South Americans with ancestral roots in Dixieland as well.
Frankly, other than in the degree of terrorism displayed (no suicide bombers back then) those times weren’t all that different from the open season that the Taliban has proclaimed on all opponents in Afghanistan. Nor is that an uncommon attitude throughout history anywhere in the world; it just doesn’t get exalted in the aftermath by winners although losers tend to “Forgit, hell!” for a long, long time.
How widespread this fear of speaking out with a minority viewpoint, or eagerness to scream a majority one as though part of some mob, has become is difficult to discern. Certainly, based on what one can easily find on the Internet, it is widespread and appears more so in areas dominated by the so-called “right wing” than in the “left wing” of the nation which is — where?
Not just San Francisco. There are entire states as lopsidedly for Obama as this area appears to be for Romney. Shocking, isn’t it? And the majorities there believe those here to be as hugely wrong and deceived as the majorities here think that they are.
Against this background it is interesting to note the differing opinions as to the certain result of such a split held by two personages quite familiar to most Americans.
ACCORDING TO Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:25 (KJV): “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”
Abraham Lincoln said, in a famous speech delivered before he even ran for president: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”
There is a third option, of course: Work differences out and nail a house together that can stand even with very different occupants within it.
That is what Americans have long sought to achieve, sometimes after burning the old house down and starting over from scratch.
Except perhaps in politics, which of late has begun to look less like the foundation of a civilized society and more like an infestation of termites.
Nonetheless, even there hope remains as witnessed in the presidential debate.
Who won? Who cares?
Most observers said it was Romney, and it is hard to disagree on the basis of impression left. Most fact-checkers afterwards also found that little of what Romney said bore much truthful content. Hey! What’s truth got to do with any of this? Our opinion is our opinion and 70 percent of this paper’s readership will agree/disagree with it while the other 30 percent agree/disagree with it.
BESIDES, and let’s be honest about this, most of those making up the electorate know more about football than they do about politics or governing, which they also treat like some sort of “hit ‘em again … harder, harder!” game. No matter how well or poorly one’s team plays it is still your team. The other side can only score by cheating, being awfully lucky or the referees — pundits in politics — being blind. And if your team fumbles the ball away, then just hit their running back more viciously next time.
However, if true attention was paid by the nation to this past week’s televised debate and is then heeded perhaps all of us might win. This is the real conclusion to be drawn from the debates:
In a nation in which mostly yelling is now heard, and elected officials seemingly can’t agree on anything, the candidates of very differing viewpoints acted like adults. They agreed to disagree without calling each other nasty names. They listened to each other. They were civilized about it. Even though what they said mostly was not eloquent, or even correct at times, they tolerated each other.
Actually, they acted like they respected each other.
In the process, they apparently set what now seems like a high standard, which not long ago was actually the common standard, that much of the electorate is not now meeting.
MAYBE WE, you, all of us can meet it again. The first step is to try using the first rule of debating:
Engage brain before starting mouth.