In the wake of the recent American presidential election, we have seen politics become more polarized than perhaps any other time in history. People have dug in their heels, and are not prepared to budge on any issue. Even the seemingly minor political points have turned into life-or-death debates for fear of losing precious ground. In all fairness, we have brought this on ourselves. Minor political points now have life-or-death consequences. Federal judges were once largely confirmed unanimously. Now, the Senate has gone nuclear just to confirm a conservative Supreme Court justice. What will come next?
However, I fear we have now valued these small political victories too highly. Are our political platforms worth anything if we have to turn our backs on our values just to score a win? Both sides of the aisle have burned extreme amounts of territory simply to scorn each other. Certainly, politics have always been dirty. But with the introduction of 24-hour news and instant access to political opinion and rhetoric, it is much easier to abuse the processes we once held sacred. We have seen countless examples of this somewhat recent trend.
Let’s take, for instance, the recent fat-shaming of the current president. In fact, it seems that even Pope Francis himself may have felt the need to comment on the weight of our new commander-in-chief. Whether one is a fan of the current administration or not, society has taken a turn against fat-shaming as of late. And why shouldn’t it have? In our heart of hearts, we can agree that it is not a nice thing to make fun of someone’s weight. Yet, it’s okay for people to make fun of the president’s weight? Why? I think for most people, the answer is something to the effect of, “Well, he has brought it on himself by the way he treats other people.”
Perhaps the current leader of the free world has not engendered much sympathy with his Twitter rants and questionable choice of political rhetoric. But most of our mothers taught us that two wrongs don’t make a right. Who are we to disagree? Also, if there is genuinely so much wrong with the administration, shouldn’t there be plenty of fodder to attack on the merits? Perhaps cheap shots are just easier for people. They always have been. My point here is not that people are necessarily deserving of sympathy despite behaving in reprehensible ways. Rather, we do ourselves a disservice by stooping to such low levels.
This is a relatively brief post because I believe the topic is one that most of us actually agree on. People, for the most part, are well aware that it’s better to be kind to people than it is to be mean. But we need to realize that vitriolic rhetoric poisons philosophies as well as individuals. Can we really stand up and be proud to call ourselves liberals, conservatives, or anything else, if we abandon those values in pursuit of petty posturing? I think we all know that answer to that.