#203 – Dick Bernard: Ship of Fools, Part II

After publishing #202, a long-time friend, a liberal Democrat, wrote with her comment on the post: “Maybe Republican was written too many times [some readers] don’t want to hear it.
The comment caused me to use my word search function at the blog, to see in how many posts, of over 200, the words “Democrat/Democrats” had surfaced in my blog; and, similarly, how often “Republican/Republicans” had been mentioned. There were 16 posts where Democrat was used; 11 where Republican appeared. Eight of these mentioned both Republican and Democrat. One, the Index, really does not apply.
In short, fewer than 10% of my blog posts had any focus on named political parties.
Of course, this is not as simple as it might seem. For years, as a “liberal”, I have noticed that the word “liberal” has been adopted as one of the many hate words of the current brand of Republicans who run the Republican party. Newt Gingrich, never below the political horizon, bears lots of credit (blame) for deliberate abuse of language for political purposes. One of his long-ago basic training lists for his PAC, named GOPAC, is here. As often as not, “liberal” (or other words from that list) is spit out, almost as a swear word, by dedicated followers of the “conservative” mantra.
In my liberal friends case, tolerance is a virtue (pretty common for my liberal friends and acquaintances); for the contemporary Republican campaign operative, tolerance for other points of view is an intolerable attitude; or at best, a weakness in the opposition, to be exploited. On the other hand, if a Republican leader is criticized – other than by one of the flock – one has hell to pay: “How dare you?!”
So, I stand my ground on the “word” usage issue. Political rhetoric is a weapon.
About a week before my friends comment I had been at a speech given by a current state-wide office holder in Minnesota. This person is highly respected, including by his peers in similar positions in other states.
Like all politicians, he is condemned to several months of going around to every conceivable setting to convince enough people to reelect him. He seems to enjoy the tussle.
During his speech he related a recent visit to some community event where one of the local citizens told him “we need to vote all you bastards out“. The angry man apparently didn’t define his terms: if “bastards” were Democrats only, or if he meant all politicians regardless of the office or party anywhere.
Really, it’s no matter. The “bastard” guys shallowness of thinking is such that he probably really believes an “ethnic cleansing” of politicians will save the day…though having known people like him through my life, he would be the first person complaining when his dream took effect about the pothole that wasn’t repaired, or this, or that, or the other. Still, there’s a strong attitude out there, “to hell with them all”, and certain political constituencies are trying to focus their diverse angers to take control of the very government the angry constituents despise.
Similarly, there are people – lots of them – who can’t be bothered with any broad view of the role of government, or the diversity of people in their society. It is enough for them to focus on their single issue, whatever that is, without any consideration for anything else. At some level they must know they can’t look at “government” this simplistic way, but nonetheless they do.
We are the government, and we deserve what we elect.
As I close, I think of some guy my age, senior citizen, who I happened to be next to at our voting location some years ago. This guy, obviously a very angry guy, was with his wife, and went in the booth and voted.
He came out and told her (and anyone else within earshot), “Now, I’ve voted and that gives me the right to complain.” Sometimes I wonder where he’s at today….
At least he voted.