In the first post on the blog, I talked about stereotypes, and how they’re used to attack members of political parties. In light of recent events (read: the election), I thought it would be appropriate to go more in depth with stereotypes and political parties. But this time, I’m going down a different sub-street: voting. So let’s talk about voting, shall we?
Voting is the right of every American citizen (over the age of 18, obviously), and millions of people showed up on November 6th to cast their votes for political offices. So voting is great, and it’s one of the many freedoms that we enjoy. Sadly, it’s also used as a weapon in the pointless, childish battle between political parties. How does this happen? I’ll tell you.
An insane principle exists among many people, across all parties. As an example, let’s say that I’m voting for Jon Stewart (no, he didn’t run for office. I’m just making a theoretical point here, so bear with me). Let’s say that Jon has a great plan to fix the economy, but he’s totally against gay marriage. If I vote for him because I like his economic plan, does that mean I agree with his stance on gay marriage? Absolutely not.
A notion exists in this country, that voting for a candidate means that I agree with every single word that comes out of his or her mouth. This is absurd. There are no ifs, ands, or buts, it’s just idiotic. People use this idea against others, and by doing so, they’re making ridiculous assumptions. It’s like saying “you voted for Obama because of his economic and foreign policies, so you must agree with his stance on abortion.” It’s absolutely preposterous. Most of the issues in today’s society are connected in some ways, but they’re still separate issues. Someone can oppose abortion, but still say that we should tax the wealthy. It is possible, and many people have such tunnel vision that they don’t see it.
Stereotypes and generalizations are polluting the political conversation in America. Once upon a time, we could actually sit down and have a rational discussion about wars or the economy. But over the last decade or two, we’ve suddenly decided that trashing the other party and calling every Democrat a freeloader (or calling every Republican a rich bastard that cheated their way into wealthiness) is a better idea.
Voting for a Democratic or Republican presidential candidate does not mean that someone agrees with the respective platform completely. That person may just be voting for Obama because they agree with his stance on foreign policy. Someone else may agree with Romney’s economic plan, but stand on opposite ends of the abortion issue. It’s ridiculous to make the assumption that a person follows every single policy that their candidate spits out.
Let’s be honest, politicians are pretty shitty. I have nothing against them as individuals, but Mark Twain said it best:
“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”
This has been true since the beginning of government, and it will probably always be true. People think that there’s a perfect candidate for every voter, but it’s literally impossible. If you think that every Republican is going to agree with every little thing that Romney says, you’re demented. The same goes for Obama with the Democrats. Sure, a decent number will follow every syllable that’s uttered, but the vast majority of people in this country just aren’t going to line up with a candidate 100%. There will never be a completely perfect President, for umpteen reasons, so we have to vote for who we think is best equipped to get the job done. Can we disagree on it? Absolutely! That’s our right as Americans. We can argue and debate about what’s best for the country until the cows come home. But some people have taken it too far.
I saw the above photo on Facebook just hours after the results of the election were announced, along with countless other stereotypical posts and images. It actually irritated me to the point that I shut my laptop down and avoided social networks for the rest of the night. People wonder what the biggest problem is with the public political discussion in America? You’re looking at it. Things like this are the reason that nothing gets done anymore. We’re all so busy standing on opposite ends of the pasture, throwing unicorn turds at each other, that we never stop and look at the mess we’re standing in. It’s completely atrocious.
The photo makes the assumption that every Democrat (or independent, for that matter) who voted for Obama is a freeloader, which is of course complete bullshit. That’s not to say that a large number of slackers didn’t vote for Obama, but we can’t generalize all Democrats as “take what we can get” people. I know a lot of Democrats. They’re good, honest people, and they get up every morning and bust their asses to support themselves and their families. Are they freeloaders because they voted for Obama? No, they’re not.
This is why I don’t engage in political conversation with a lot of people. I get asked on a weekly basis what political party I belong to, which only makes me chuckle because I don’t give a flying pink unicorn about political parties. I see way too many pointless generalizations on both sides to take people seriously. Let’s say that I walked up to you on the street and told you I’m a Democrat. Would you assume that I want to take tax money from the rich and give it to lazy people, or that I’m pro-choice? What would the label of “Democrat” (or “Republican,” for that matter) make you think about me as a person? Ask yourself this question, you might be surprised by the answers.
Please do us all a favor, and don’t make these assumptions. Don’t tell me that all Republicans are rich and only care about themselves, because I will laugh at you. Don’t tell me that every Democrat in America is a lazy, freeloading slacker, because I will laugh at you. Don’t classify members of a political party as one type of person, because everyone is different. It’s like looking at a herd of zebra and say “these 50 zebra have thicker stripes, so they must be stronger and willing to fight.” But we all know that if a lion comes along, every one of them is going to run for their damn lives.