Author’s note: this blog post was written in 2018 and has since been languishing in my unpublished drafts.
Hey, everyone, I have a truth bomb for you. Ready? Okay here it goes…
No one is trying to control you.
No I’m not speaking from standpoint of naivety. I know there are bad people in the world, I’m not talking about world leaders or monolithic organizations with big money professional lobbyists. I’m talking about your fellow Americans. Your fellow Americans are not trying to control you. Nor are they, themselves, being controlled.
I keep hearing this argument from both sides that essentially says, “People who hold the opposite viewpoint of mine are trying to control me/take away my rights/are simply being controlled by their governmental/media overlords.
Y’all. This is not happening.
Your fellow citizens are not gathering to have meetings about how best to take away the reproductive sovereignty of women because they want to exert power over the fairer sex.
Your fellow citizens are not gathering to have meetings about how to best take away your second amendment rights because they want to institute a massive communist or fascist coup.
I hate to beat a dead horse but you know what *is* happening? You are being intentionally divided. Russia employs professional trolls who are posing online as Americans, posting extremist rhetoric on both the right and the left with the express intention of dividing the citizens of the United States. It’s been going on for years.
How frighteningly powerful must a united American public be that other nations are trying so fervently (and effectively) to divide us?
Having been raised Republican, I understand the thought processes of the Conservative Right. However, I began my transition to Liberalism about five years ago and have now voted blue twice, so I understand the thought processes of the Liberal Left as well. I have good friends and family who are both. I have neighbors and coworkers who are both. That’s America. Our differences is what makes us so damn beautiful as a country.
Our strengths lie in our differences.
That’s what absolutely kills me when I see people name-calling, refusing to cooperate, vilifying one another, and acting like compromise is equivalent to submission.
Compromise is necessary for our government to operate.
We aren’t supposed to be fighting one another like this, using obstructionist tactics and creating discord. President Trump has spent his entire time in office dismantling as many Obama-era policies as quickly as possible to the rampant cheering of his voter base. When the government shut down, each side equally blamed the other for their own immature unwillingness to cooperate. It would be funny if it wasn’t my country I was watching go down in (for now, metaphorical) flames.
Apparently people hate having their hypocrisies exposed so I don’t expect this to be a popular blog post. As I said earlier, I am fairly Liberal now, and I voted Democrat in the past two elections (state and national). Nonetheless, I think it’s important to be just in my philosophies. I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and acknowledging the good in my opponents. Apparently, not many people think impartiality and courtesy are important. I found this in a particularly vexing comment thread on NPR.
On the surface, it looked like a pretty harmless article, touting Mississippi for sending the first woman to Congress from their state. The article explained the process, gave a little information about the candidate, and contained a graph examining when each state sent their first woman rep to the United States Congress. (Texas did it in 1966 when we sent famed Democrat and Civil Rights advocate Barbara Jordan). Apparently, Vermont still hasn’t done it. I went to the comments expecting many of them to express the same surprise I felt, that solid red-state Mississippi was, at least in this case, more progressive than dyed-in-the-wool blue Vermont. However, the comments were actually filled with sarcasm and derision aimed at the candidate, because she is a Republican.
It’s not surprising that a large portion of NPR’s readership is Liberal/Democrat. What surprises me is that the progressive party was not happy with this woman because of her party.
As I stated before, I am no longer a Republican. I am, however, still a woman. I took issue with all the hatred aimed at this woman, and all the assertions that she is simply a pawn for a larger, sinister plot to take away women’s rights. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this argument, but it was the first time I’d heard this argument when the only information given about the candidate was her political party. When I pointed that out, people were not happy.
I had one person state that she’s just a puppet for the Republican agenda and would soon be voting to defund Planned Parenthood.
Several people commented that they would never vote for any GOP or any “hateful trash”. (Though nothing in the article indicated the candidate had hateful tendencies).
Eventually I got a commenter who stated that all Liberals are full of hate, which, I would usually said was laughable, but on that particular thread, I saw a lot of hate. I wanted to tell him to jump off a bridge, but I decided that would be counter to my purpose.
Here is the original article and you can read the whole thread below.
Here’s the thing: You can’t claim you support women while also defending your right to hate this one particular group of women.
Person: “I support women! I think women are smart and should have a voice in government! I think more women should participate in politics.”
Woman: (Votes her conscience)
Person: “No, not like that, here, let me show you how.”
If you support women, then you have to trust them to draw their own conclusions, otherwise, all you support is an agenda. And that’s cool, just be honest about it. Don’t act like you’re all for women’s rights if you really just want women to act a certain way. That makes you no better than the people you revile.
How did we get here? How did we get to the point where we can’t even trust each other to be espousing our own beliefs and not the beliefs of a malicious organization bent on world domination? Neither side is really all that far-fetched. We have to start giving each other credit. Each side has a point on every issue or there wouldn’t be an argument.
Recognize it. Don’t dismiss it. Address it.
Almost every argument, when you subtract the idea of a big bunch of greedy bad guys pulling the public’s strings, can be boiled down to basic emotions.
The gun debate pits the fear of being shot dead (or have your loved ones shot dead), against the fear of living under a repressive totalitarian regime. The abortion debate pits people who want to protect women against people who want to protect children. Do you see the common threads here? These are all good intentions. These ideas all have merit.
Instead of calling people names, un-friending them on Facebook and altogether dismissing their point of view as “stupid” or “narrow-minded”, put yourself in their place. Why do people feel that way? What can we do to make people feel safer, more secure, less afraid? What are they trying to accomplish? Is it possible for us to both get closer to accomplishing our goals? If you refuse to ever work together, the answer will always be no.