I don’t often make political posts any more, and there is a reason. A reason that has been clearly illustrated for me over the weekend.
What we know right now is this: On Saturday morning a young man shot a bunch of people at a political Town Meeting held by a Democratic politician. That politician was among those shot.
The gossip as it flew around the world’s largest backfence (Twitter) was another thing altogether. In the name of news and under the guise of “breaking a story” people prematurely announced the Congresswoman’s death, and proceeded to ascribe blame for that death to not only the young man who pulled the trigger but to a bunch of politicians and idealogues with whom the writers did not agree.
And therein lies the fundamental problem I see in politics. I can’t even say “Modern politics” because I’ve read enough history to know better. The problem is that when people disagree with another person so violently that they assume the other party has the basest of motives. On Saturday I read a LOT of comments about how quite obviously this boy was a Tea Party indoctrinate. The extrapolation then being that the Tea Party welcomes and encourages the kind of thinking that leads to assasination.
All because of disagreements regarding spending policies. SPENDING policies. That’s what it comes down to. Because as much as it’s wrapped up in Health Care and The Environment and The Constitiution the fundamental root of difference between Tea Party people and Left Wing people is that they don’t agree on how to spend money.
Picture this. You and your sister get a joint inheritance from your parents. Your sister wants to put the money in a college fund for her kids, you want to give the money to charity. Now picture you calling your sister foul and violent names. And then picture watching the news, seeing a story about a man who shot three Salvation Army bell ringers and then saying to yourself “I just bet he’s a friend of Cheryl’s. They both hate charity.”
That’s what’s going on here. People see their family, friends, neighbours and co-workers as something akin to a crazed murderer. I sort of liken it to the way some religious people write off those in other faiths as crazed murderers. EXCEPT that in many cases the religious people don’t know any Muslims or Jews personally.
It’s this that I find hard. The assumption that a rare, crazed perpetrator of an unusual gruesomeness is little different from the large portion of this country that holds conservative viewpoints. Obviously if that were actually true, mass shootings at political gatherings would happen as a matter of course. So it’s demonstrably false on its face, yet the anger and bitterness allows the meme to circulate wildly.