A Nation of Star-Bellied Sneetches

While catching up on the blogs (the same way other folks catch-up on soap operas) I scanned through a few quite ambitious predictions regarding Rep. Stacey Campfield’s political future.

No Silence Here picked up the post too, which is where I spotted this comment. “I guess you don’t talk to many people in Campfield’s district. He is a much-hated figure out west.”

I realize this isn’t the best example of pointless or inflammatory comments. There are far worse in other places, and I feel almost guilty for pointing out this one… but it just happened to pop-up at the same place at the same time my frustrations were bubbling over.

So, it bugged me.

It bugged me because I don’t see the point. What does this statement communicate? It can’t be that Campfield’s own district hates him – unless twice now, despite their intense loathing, the majority of them muttered “Screw it” and voted for him anyway. So, it implies Campfield cannot pull enough support from neighboring districts to be elected as a Senator? Okay, why not just say that? Better yet, why not list one or all of the reasons he cannot gather enough support or why he wouldn’t be right for the job.

As it was, all I heard was “Everybody hates him.” Of course, the comment wasn’t accompanied by any fact… although in my head, it was set to Billy Squier’s “Everybody Wants You” tune.

And sadly this comment is typical of current political discourse.

Our conflicts are no longer constructive. Our words no longer serve any purpose. They do not clarify citizens’ understanding of the issues, strive to reach the best solution or encourage participation in the political process. Basically, we just toss statements out there and expect anyone who disagrees to capitulate or shut the hell up and go away.

Perhaps this is because, despite our common ground (and I mean this literally – in that we’re all Americans, we all have a stake in what’s happening here whether we like each other or not) we’ve divided ourselves in too many ways. We’re separated by party, opinion, gender, color, religion, sexual orientation, language, region – and we focus on those differences.

You know – we are worse than a nation of Seuss’ Star-Bellied Sneetches – we are a nation wherein each individual imagines his or her belly is brilliantly marked and better than all others.

We spend countless amounts of time with our snoots in the air, drawing battle lines, assigning the labels and maligning those who do not mirror our own views. As a result, there’s very little time left for any real discussion.

This is depressing, America, since it truly restricts the open exchange of ideas and prevents us from talking about the millions of ways we’re all being equally screwed.

As a result, our conversations routinely and at record speed veer into this territory where pointless observations, personal attacks, and “oh yeah! well, everybody hates you and “you’re less intelligent than I” and/or “clearly you have been marked by Satan” are the norm.

We can no longer set aside differences and talk to one another, and I don’t understand this. It makes no sense to me. As intelligent folks, why would we not seek out opposing arguments? Why would we not be willing to entertain the ideas of others, regardless of their origin, to improve, alter or build upon our own.

At some point, we’ve all taken a position on an issue – and later discovered the position was somehow flawed or problematic: maybe in that there were consequences we hadn’t considered. There’s nothing wrong with this: and we should never seek to defend our position simply because it belongs to us or to our party.

Unfortunately, in a world where being right is more important than being informed or aware, this type of exchange is rare.

Quite frankly – even I am less willing to make the effort because the process of wading through the inflammatory rhetoric, utter bullshit and personal attacks in order to have an actual conversation with the other side is simply too exhausting.

Why bother?

You know, maybe I’ll just accept things as they are. Maybe I’ll become staunchly Republican with a sniff and a snort and vow to have nothing to do with that jackass sort.


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