The politics of demonization

Politics has always had an ugly side. Although we often feel like we are living through the worst of it, it has clearly been really awful at other times also. CNN had a great piece during the Trump-Clinton election showing some of the awful things candidates said about each other. The current climate includes some of this, and plenty of name calling (our President excels in this artform), but what bothers me the most isn’t the attacks between those individuals, but the blanket demonization of people who vote a certain way or another. Both sides get blame for this, but circumstances seem to be having an impact on republicans (at this moment) more than democrats. I’m not saying that things couldn’t be reversed, and democrats would be the ones to talk about here, but right now, in current politics, the republicans are worthy of some attention. Specifically, I’m talking about what’s happening in Alabama and the continued support of the GOP candidate for Senate. For the party leaders, and many of their voters, democrats are so awful, and so evil, and so wrong for the country, that they would prefer to side with Moore, in spite of all the dirt that’s been unearthed about him, than let a democrat win the seat.

I think the same could be said about Trump and the race against Clinton. Yes, Clinton and Trump are both polarizing candidates, but what I’m focused on here is the fact that there are many voters who will vote for their party’s candidate no matter what, and it seems like this is not because they really want their party’s candidate to win, but because the alternative is apocalyptic. I think this stems from the way the political parties have demonized those who think differently from them. Republicans want to starve the poor and feed their decaying bodies to the rich, democrats want to kill all the babies with their bare hands and use their remains as kindling to burn bibles. I may hate my party’s candidate, but he sure is better than the demon scum that would be in office if the other guy wins. Of course, the democrats aren’t immune to this, but, like I said above, the prime examples seem to be happening on the GOP side these days. A winning argument in favor of liberals is so absurd, that defending Nazis feels OK. It seems pretty clear that Roy Moore has made some awful choices in life, and taken advantage of young women in a way that most of us find disgusting, yet he remains supported by many republicans in Alabama (including a formal resolution from the Shelby County Republican Executive Committee), seemingly because it’s impossible to be worse than a democrat.

I don’t know the way out of this, and I don’t know if it’s been like this before, but I really don’t enjoy it, and I’m sure it will come full circle someday. I’m sure I’ll be pitted against a republican who pushes for policies that I hate, and a democrat who is truly scum of the earth. I have no doubt that day will come, but today the eyes are on the GOP. It’s particularly hypocritical from a party that grew out of the moral majority, and from a party that ran on the idea of restoring morality to the White House after the Clinton years. In the same way, many democrats argued that we should ignore the personal lives of the candidates and focus on the issues, and we now are shocked that the personal lives aren’t enough to change the minds of voters. In fairness to democrats (including myself), we’re not the ones who pushed for more focus on the personal failings in the past, only to ignore them today, but I’m sure many of us are feeling a certain degree of schadenfreude watching the same folks who made us feel aligned with the devil just because we weren’t upset by men holding hands in public, now support a statutory rapist/pedophile because nothing is worse than a liberal.

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