Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Social Commentary: Fear and Loathing
Fear and Loathing. It's a term you see me use often in my political writings. Of course, I borrowed it from none other than Dr. Gonzo himself, and a person of great inspiration to me, Hunter S. Thompson. I believe that he used the term to describe an atmosphere of hate and paranoia that, far too often, permeates modern society and culture. And even though he coined the phrase in the '60s, I believe that, perhaps, it is even MORE applicable today, particularly in the current political arena. I certainly believe that it is.
In just a few months, America will once again choose who will be the most powerful man on earth. This is both a blessing and a curse for us. It is a blessing because that person belongs to us, our "tribe". But it is a curse, too, because the stakes are so high it often causes that tribe to be torn apart by the pressure of such high stakes. And I don't believe that, in my nearly forty years of voting, I have ever seen a choice so clear or an election as contentious as this one! This, again, is a blessing and a curse. Clear choices are a good thing. Vitriolic bickering over them is not. It's that bickering that disturbs me. THAT brings on the fear and loathing of which I write.
Because the choice between candidates is so clear, it should be easy to choose. For ease of discussion, let's call President Barack Obama the liberal leaning candidate and Mitt Romney, the conservative. Pretty clear, yes? So, why then is there so much fear and loathing in the campaign rhetoric, particular among the Republican/Conservatives? Nasty rhetoric is to be expected in long, hard political campaigns. BOTH sides have gotten in there share of "cheap shots". It comes with the territory. However, from my experience, I have never seen a more vicious assault on the very character of a candidate then the one now being perpetrated on President Obama by GOP Conservatives. You may not agree with the President's policies, or the direction you believe he is directing the country in. THAT'S why we have elections - to choose a person who best represents our vision for the country. However, if you believe the rhetoric of such so-called pundits like Rush Limbaugh and so-called news outlets like Fox News, then you are yielding to a campaign of fear and loathing. My god, they've accused the man of everything from being an "illegal alien" to "dismantling this country brick by brick"! Really? I've seen some phony Facebook photo of Mr. Obama on a stage looking as if he was refusing to say The Pledge of Allegiance. Really? Do you, COULD you, believe any of these things to be true? That the President forged his birth certificate? The he (or ANY President) would refuse to recite The Pledge? Really? That he is consciously trying to destroy the country? Really? REASONABLE people would see it for the fear and loathing that it is, dismiss it completely, and stick with the issues!
Yet the fear and loathing persists, day after day, perpetuated by blowhards like Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and virtually the entire staff at Fox News, etc.! Why?, I often ask myself. I get the differences in opinion and direction that others support. I don't get the unreasonable, illogical, and downright vitriolic method in which it is expressed! I search for reasons, and even though I'm VERY reluctant to play the race card, I'm left with the possibility that a good portion of that HATE is generated by a subtle (if not OVERT) form of racism. Could it be that many, even subconsciously, detest the idea that a black man is actually running the country? I have asked many why they so distrust the man. No one has been able to supply me with a reasonable response.
I was never a George Bush fan (I know, some of you are really laughing now!). His policies would never jive with my vision for America. And I often expressed my displeasure with his Presidency. However, I NEVER accused him of being "anti-America" or of deliberately dismantling the Country. He may have been misguided (IMHO), and not the "brightest bulb" but I NEVER said (or wrote) that he was truly nefarious - as many accuse Barack Obama to be.
So, my point is, if you want to debate the issues and the candidate with me, I'm here (hear) for you. If you are looking to spread more fear and loathing, tell your story walking. Perhaps, Rush Limbaugh will listen to you.