Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Name Calling in Politics - A Rant

Contributed by Katherine Foley

It's a sin of which I am guilty, but is it possible to engage in today's political climate without resorting to name calling? If I were a gambling woman I would be willing to bet that many liberals do not consider themselves socialist. I'd be willing to bet that many conservatives are thoughtful about their beliefs, not raging bigots. I'd be willing to bet there is not a thoughtful, politically involved person who actually emulates or resembles Hitler. 

But my favorite of all the names that the left and right fling at each other is, "hypocrite." You see, we're all hypocrites - everyone of us. It's part of the human condition that we don't always hold ourselves or our loved ones to the same standards that we apply to those in the "out group." If we are going to actually engage in meaningful dialogue, should we not resort to being the proverbial pot calling the kettle black? 

I would suggest that everyone's a little bit racist. It's an evolutionary instinct to distrust people who are different from ourselves. I would suggest that we all have formed opinions without being fully aware of the facts and that we've all said things that we were aware were less than true. It's true that not all of us are running for president, and not all of us have a pulpit from which thousands, if not millions, of people can hear what we have to say. However, let us not fall into the pattern of dismissing someone we identify as opposition by over-generalizing them or their beliefs.

I don't know how many times I've vehemently disliked someone, only to get to know them and discover that they are an amazingly worthwhile person to know. Whether this is because I judge people to harshly upon first impression or because I am willing to accept that I was wrong about someone or something, I don't know. But if I can do this in my personal life I should surely be able to do the same in my political life. 

Opposition either strengthens our own position or demolishes it. We should not be afraid to be proven wrong, or have too much pride to admit if someone else is right. Let us not call people names as a quick way of discrediting their position. If you think someone is factually inaccurate, correct them. If you think someone has said something ignorant or acted in an ignorant manner, correct them. Calling them names will only expand the breach between your points of view - and that is what's wrong with politics today. 

We should be building bridges, not using dynamite to widen any chasms that legitimately exist.