There’s Enough Wrong to Go Around

Michele says it’s all the Left’s fault. The Left is violent, and we’re going to cause all sorts of violence in August. Yeah, some people probably will be violent. But, it won’t be because of their political point of view. It’ll be because they’re prone to violence. And to say there’s no violence on the Right is misleading. It’s not like everyone on the Right is peace loving. Let’s look… We have the whole militia movement, from the Right (Michele is dropping “far”, so I will too, just to keep the vocabulary the same) which spawned Tim McVeigh. He killed a lot of people. There are the followers of Fred Phelps, from the Religious Right, who probably count in their number the guys who killed Matthew Shepard. If not literally, at least figuratively. Fred wants to put up a monument to Matthew’s murder. We have Pat Robertson, who went so far as to ask the Almighty to kill off some Supreme Court Justices. We have Hitler. He’s the poster boy for the Right, right? Oh, and we have Stalin. Oh wait, he’s from the Left. He killed twenty million people, which means that the Right has a ways to go in catching up, right?

I’m not trying to make light of all the people who have died at the hands of maniacs from both ends of the political spectrum. I’m really not. But, if we’re going to play tit for tat for all the violence attributed to people registered to a political party, we’ll be here all night, tomorrow, the next day, and may never stop. We’ll end up hating not only each other, but ourselves in the end.

I’m on the Left. I used to be on the Right, drifted to the Center, and am now drifting Left. I am not prone to violence. Most people I know, and all the ones I hang out with on both sides, are not prone to violence. They come from both parties. They’re the vast sea of people in the middle, the people who vote quietly without fanfare or protest, and live their lives the best they know how.

What I feel happening is the silo-ization of our culture. We tend to hang out with people who think like us. It makes us comfortable. We can now consume all kinds of media now without ever having our reality challenged. On the Right, you have Fox News. The Left has CNN (well, according to the Right – I don’t really see it, but I’ll accept it for this analogy). On the web, you can read Daily Kos or InstaPundit and never leave your political comfort zone. This didn’t happen until very recently, and I think it’s causing all sorts of problems. When people who all agree get together, it forms an echo chamber. The dialogue escalates, because there’s no reason to think you’re going to hurt anyone’s feelings or offend anyone. Everyone agrees! We’re all pals here! We can speak freely! Then, the other side comes in, is shocked, and then goes back to their little corner of the world, and the force of language escalates again. It’s a death-spiral, that I fear will end in the complete death of political debate in this country.

I tried (and failed) to fix it over at nonDependant. I wanted a dialogue. It didn’t really develop, mostly because I wasn’t sure how to keep it going or develop it. I think someone with Michele’s personality and fire could start it. If we want to fix it and stop the violence before it starts, we need to stop yelling and start talking. We need to stop laying blame and start finding solutions.

I know this is getting long, but I want to confess something. I listened to a good part of Richard Clarke’s testimony before the 9/11 comission. I was good and fired up, angry at Bush, like the good Lefty that I am. Then, I read Reid’s post about the testimony, and the switch flipped. It doesn’t do anything positive to lay the blame for 9/11 at anyone’s feet. It doesn’t matter now. There were things missed all over. Everyone made mistakes, and it doesn’t do any good to second guess that now. It’s more important that we fix the problems that remain, together.

We need to stop preaching to our respective choirs. The preaching is turning into shrieking, and isn’t doing anything to fix things. We need to turn around, shake hands and talk to each other: about our problems, about our respective solutions, about our dreams, our lives, our families, and our communities. It’s time to get a little uncomfortable. Hi, my name is Kevin. I’m a Lefty. Nice to meet you.