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Author Topic: Why can't people still respect the other side in politics?  (Read 1101 times)
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Jim V.
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« on: November 24, 2015, 08:44:20 PM »

So, after driving home with my wife after picking up some dinner, I turned the radio to the Mark Levin show, which is hosted by this guy Mark Levin who just constantly spits venom about President Obama and liberals blah blah blah. You know the type. Him, Michael Savage, Rush, etc.

But anyways after listening to Levin say something about how "Obama hates America" my wife said something like, "instead of saying Obama hates America and everything, why couldn't he say that he highly disagrees with him but that he's not a horrible person?"

And that really did get me. And my only real answer was that it must be money. That this kind of vile talk gets people to listen. And if we just made it about a disagreement on the issues it'd be too boring. So instead of saying that we disagree with the other person, instead they are a disgusting piece of sh*t who hates us.

What a shame.
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Douchepool
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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2015, 08:47:56 PM »

That's the thing with any form of talk radio...it's a form of entertainment first and foremost. It's designed to get reactions, like any form of provocative entertainment.
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Emily
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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2015, 12:49:15 AM »

So, after driving home with my wife after picking up some dinner, I turned the radio to the Mark Levin show, which is hosted by this guy Mark Levin who just constantly spits venom about President Obama and liberals blah blah blah. You know the type. Him, Michael Savage, Rush, etc.

But anyways after listening to Levin say something about how "Obama hates America" my wife said something like, "instead of saying Obama hates America and everything, why couldn't he say that he highly disagrees with him but that he's not a horrible person?"

And that really did get me. And my only real answer was that it must be money. That this kind of vile talk gets people to listen. And if we just made it about a disagreement on the issues it'd be too boring. So instead of saying that we disagree with the other person, instead they are a disgusting piece of sh*t who hates us.

What a shame.
It has always been thus. The squabbling, muckraking and inflammatory bs surrounding (and among) the first 4 presidents and Alexander Hamilton were pretty intense.
I think the difference is that we keep getting better and better technology to amplify it.
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filledeplage
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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2015, 06:51:59 AM »

So, after driving home with my wife after picking up some dinner, I turned the radio to the Mark Levin show, which is hosted by this guy Mark Levin who just constantly spits venom about President Obama and liberals blah blah blah. You know the type. Him, Michael Savage, Rush, etc.

But anyways after listening to Levin say something about how "Obama hates America" my wife said something like, "instead of saying Obama hates America and everything, why couldn't he say that he highly disagrees with him but that he's not a horrible person?"

And that really did get me. And my only real answer was that it must be money. That this kind of vile talk gets people to listen. And if we just made it about a disagreement on the issues it'd be too boring. So instead of saying that we disagree with the other person, instead they are a disgusting piece of sh*t who hates us.

What a shame.
It has always been thus. The squabbling, muckraking and inflammatory bs surrounding (and among) the first 4 presidents and Alexander Hamilton were pretty intense.
I think the difference is that we keep getting better and better technology to amplify it.
Emily - I agree. Technology gives everybody an independent source to verify what is going on.  Politics is a lot like religion.  You are born into a political party unless your parents are affiliated with different parties, like James Carville, who is a Democratic political commentator being married to Mary Matalin who is a Republican party consultant.

You overhear as a child, influences and preferences.  It is good to introduce kids to the political process at a young age, whether it is working the polls, or doing leaflet drops or getting nomination papers signed, they should learn the political process and it is a lifetime civics lesson.  They learn how candidates are vetted.  They learn that candidates don't magically appear on TV. Otherwise you become bystanders.   Enough is not taught in school about the political process.     Wink
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KDS
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« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2015, 07:03:57 AM »

I think in the internet age, people don't respect other peoples' opinions on anything anymore.

Politics
Sports
Music
TV
Movies
Holidays
Religion

Politics and religion are definitely the most intense though. 
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the captain
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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2015, 07:34:11 AM »

There are several things that drive that kind of nonsense, I’d say.
 
First, with partisan—i.e., virtually all—politicians themselves.
Getting elected, and re-elected, and re-re-elected is their full-time job (or rather, the fundraising that accompanies campaigning is), and the only way to do that is through marketing. Differentiating the product is essential. Unfortunately for them, acknowledging that the parties agree on almost everything but the details simply won’t do, so instead they develop inflammatory rhetoric to more strongly—though mostly artificially—widen that gap. It’s not enough to argue merits of this tax hike or reduction and the programs it will support or cut. It’s not enough to argue which “military intervention but no boots on the ground” strikes that perfect balance of pretending to be doing something and avoiding real risk of real war. It’s almost always degrees of difference, not substantive difference.
 
Practically speaking, that’s just a reality of our government. The U.S. government wasn’t built—I’d argue wisely—to dramatically change very often based on this or that election’s results. Even the most minimalist, Tea Party style government would cost tremendous amounts of money, employ huge numbers of people, and of course have dramatic effects on the population that require some degree of buy-in. You can’t undo that every two or four years without losing the public entirely, waffling back and forth, creating and dismantling programs, hiring and laying off staff. It’s just not reasonable. What you can do, and what is done, is work in small degrees. Our government is a conservative one (in structure). Policy changes by inches, and it’s a lot of one step forward, one step back, two steps forward, a step and a half back. It’s an aircraft carrier—even with the Tea Partiest regime—not a speedboat. So honestly campaigning on one’s future accomplishments is tenuous at best. We’re all aware of the value of a campaign promise…
 
So if not policy, candidates need narratives, themes … and there aren’t many themes in politics. The two main historical camps are those of the experienced leader and the change candidate. One has a steady hand, understands how things work, can get things done, has a proven track record. The other is going to shake up Washington (or your state capital, or whatever), deliver a populist revolution, blaze new paths. There are different angles among the two themes—the strong commander in chief, the unifying leader, the one-issue specialist, the “aw shucks” populist, the “inspiring” personal story (barf)—but there aren’t really many narratives.
 
What if, rather than commenting on actual action, we filter it through an entirely different paradigm? What if that 2% tax hike on the top quintile [or partial privatization of this or that—both parties are playing this and I don’t mean to single either one out] is just more evidence—nay, proof!—that the sonofabitch hates our country!? Hates our very freedom! Disbelieves the American dream, calls to mind Nazi fascism!
 
It’s much easier to win a race against the devil himself than against another guy who has different ideas about how to nuance policy to help a larger percentage of the population than the current ones. One of these options is very, very boring, keeping voters at home because they’ve slept through the election. The other fires up the excitable pawns of the partisan base, and scares and sways the massive middle. So the campaign commercial has menacing music and dark clouds as the sad-sounding mother of three bemoans what [candidate would do][official is doing] to her children. Won’t anyone think of the children!? Luckily, our hero’s image appears on the screen, the minor chords’ uncertain sway resolves to strong, major-key tonality, the sky brightens, and look at that handsome (or pretty) All-American man (or woman)! Look at that million-dollar smile! Things are about to get brighter now that we beat the devil down.
 
Second, with the media.
Same basic logic, actually. It’s not about which party the media supports: I actually believe that media tends to be pretty well aligned with its regional population’s preferences. We see endorsements of conservatives in conservative areas, and vice versa. Yes, there’s Fox and its ilk, and vice versa. But that’s … not quite irrelevant, but not my focus here.
 
The media—any media—is focused on audience, because it’s focused on revenue. They’re not bad people on an individual level, by any means: I don’t believe mainstream (and yes, that includes massive special-interest media like Fox and MSNBC) media purposefully lies with devious intent, even when they are being what a neutral observer would call dishonest in their presentation of reality. But what they all do—left, right, and down the middle—is look for the story. The story has narrative quality, it has conflict. We learn this in 7th grade English composition classes: dramatic arc.
 
So what’s dramatic? What’s a good story? It’s not the paragraph above about incremental, dull policy detail. It’s not about property taxes or school levies. It’s not about zoning. It’s not even about shifting around military budgets from this to that program, or aid programs. It’s about the fight. Or better, the scandal. Who cheated on whose spouse is always the lead story.
 
If the dirt is the story, and the politicians live for the story as described in the first section above, then, well…
 
Third, the moronic public
We’re the problem. The salacious story sells because someone—we, the people—are buying. If the absurdly crafted good versus evil story is successful in the campaign, it’s because someone—we, the people—fall for it. Every. Fucking. Time.
 
Noam Chomsky said (I believe in a conversation with physicist Lawrence Krauss, which is on youtube, and before you go further, whether you like Chomsky or not isn’t the point, this particular point is I think a good one across ideological lines) something like “charisma is the worst part of, or is dangerous in, politics.” That public opinion ought not be shaped by charisma, because charisma isn’t substantive. Charisma is falling for a character, for a story, not thinking about the reality. A Kennedy, a Reagan, an Obama, was easy to blindly follow regardless of what they may have been saying, much less doing. The first Obama campaign was a masterpiece of marketing, leaving vast swaths of disappointed idiots who projected their utopias onto him, a more or less moderate Democrat not especially different than his predecessors in the party, skin color and “inspiring story” notwithstanding.
 
We, the people, are mostly stupid. Or at least disinterested, lazy, distracted, fat and comfortable in relative prosperity, self-neutered, more than happy to catch the soundbites at 10 or online or on the commute, interpret them as we were told, and repeat them to other people whose situations led them to agree with us anyway.
 
We, the people, say we don’t like the divisiveness, the demonization, the big money influence, the empty rhetoric, the negativity. Then we validate it all every chance we get.
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Emily
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« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2015, 09:19:52 AM »

I think in the internet age, people don't respect other peoples' opinions on anything anymore.

Politics
Sports
Music
TV
Movies
Holidays
Religion

Politics and religion are definitely the most intense though.  

I actually think it's gotten better. I mean, we say nasty things but we don't head out in bands for pogroms or blacklist people for their religion or political views any more.
It seems to be a consistent human quality to believe things used to be better, but if you really look at it, there are few ways in which it was.

Maybe one reason why it seems to have been better in the past is that there was a lot more censorship and violent repression of dissenting views. So when we look at earlier media, in the US, only the approved Walter Cronkite (no disrespect to him) range of views made it to TV and, before that, radio. I mean, in the late 60s there was a series of televised debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. And it was radical for TV to present people disagreeing so strongly. But, if you look at their views, they really only disagreed on the margins. So we can look back and see harmony in the reported views, but behind the scenes, the government and society was doing intense work to silence dissent. Labor and the left have faced extremely violent repression in the US since industrialization, most violently in the early 20th century but before that workers trying to organize were regularly actually killed either by the authorities or by corporate security who would then go unprosecuted because most towns west of the Appalachians were virtually, and sometimes literally, owned by the company. The KKK terrorized not just minorities but anyone who was vocal in their disapproval of Jim Crow. There were giant swaths of the country in which to express dissent from the status quo was to risk violent attacks on yourself and your family while the local authorities looked the other way. Then there was the McCarthy era, and the violence against civil rights movement; violence against Vietnam protesters. Even in the first generation of the United States, the Alien and Sedition act were passed, allowing people to be imprisoned for dissent.
Sometimes I wonder if the violence is only diminished because it was successful. The real left is entirely silenced. Now only the Gore Vidal left remains, and they support the same things as the right, economically (which is what it's all really about).

In terms of religion, Catholics faced a lot of repression and terror in the US. Other religions not so much because there weren't enough vocal members of any non-Christian religion in the US to be threatening to the Christian hegemony.

In Europe, the violent repression and suppression of Catholics by Protestants and Protestants by Catholics and every non-Christian by Christians is well-known and well-documented.

Of course if you go further back than the democratic era, violent repression is just a basic part of every day life.

It is my opinion that it's vastly better to be able to hear dissent, even when it's not to your liking and even when it seems to be disingenuous and is very stupid than to have it suppressed.
But dissent and extreme views and a lack of respect for other views have always existed.

It's also nice that, in the countries most SmileySmile posters come from, we rarely go to physical war over who the next leader will be. Having to hear nasty talk radio is a lot better than being killed, I should think.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2015, 10:05:34 AM by Emily » Logged
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