Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Enthusiasm Gap Unplugged

The other day I mentioned that I'm finding that I have an enthusiasm gap for taking on every vile thing the Republican candidates say. I've wondered what that's about - especially given all the racist, homophobic, misogynist crap they've been putting out there.

Then last night I read something by Charles Pierce that helped me put it into perspective. He starts out with this:

And, suddenly, the dogwhistles have turned into air-raid sirens.

The dog whistles I've been learning to tune into are not what we're talking about with these Republicans anymore. If you can't hear it - there's simply no other way to understand it than to assume you're deaf. No one needs to explain the nuances of how what they're saying is harmful and destructive. It should be clear to any thinking/feeling human being. They're on the war path against anyone who isn't white, male, heterosexual and rich.

And then Pierce articulates the only possible response to this kind of madness.

I think, maybe, it's time for the nation to rise up and point out to the Republican party that, root and branch, it is a racist embarrassment to democracy and a blight on this nation that all the world can see. Whether it's N. Leroy Gingrich's chirping about how all the black people are on food stamps, or Rick Santorum's talking about the mysterious Blah People, or this clown whom the other clowns in the Kansas House elected to lead them, there is a steady, noxious river of bile flowing through the entire Republican party, and through the conservative "movement" that empowers it. It should marginalize the party to whatever back lot of hell it is in which a crosseyed James Earl Ray attempts to shoot an apple off the head of Byron De La Beckwith for all eternity.

No, I don't accept your apology, you ignorant old fart. No, Rick, I don't believe for a moment you meant to say something else and it came out "Blah people," you Bible-banging coward. Nobody's talking in code any more. It's right out front there, for all the world to see. How dare these people? How dare their evil souls?

YES! That sums up my feelings perfectly. What else is there to say really?

There just doesn't seem to be a point to picking out just one note of this siren when they're going off constantly. The entire thing is infected root to branch.

At this point for me it goes beyond any one utterance of a particular candidate. I begin to think about the sickness in our society that leads large swaths of people to support them. Its no mystery to any of us that this sickness has been there for a very long time. Perhaps there's something to be said for bringing it out of the closet and into the open.

I, for one, can't maintain a simple outrage at this 24/7. What I'm needing are some answers...something that points the way in another direction.

That has to come from us. And it needs to be a competing vision that can overwhelm this noise.

Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.

I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny...

But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes – a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.

It’s not easy to stand in somebody else’s shoes. It’s not easy to see past our differences. We’ve all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart – that puts up walls between us.

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don’t think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant...

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scapegoating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others – all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face – war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

Barack Obama, January 2008

1 comment:

  1. Is there anything else these G-O-TEA candidates can talk about? Dog-whistle xenophobia is all they have left.