Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Culture of Name-Calling

     Young children on a playground will often participate in a favorite juvenile tradition, i.e. name calling. Usually the target of such an activity is one who is perceived to be different from a norm imposed by the standards of the group. Other times the target is another child who is perceived to be weaker or stronger than the name caller. The act of name calling is meant to achieve two results; a) to marginalize the target from the rest of the group, and b) to make the name caller feel superior. Our recent political debate, especially on the Right, has degenerated into a hyper-version of the school yard tradition of name calling.
     The reckless abandon with which some on the Right have succumbed to the ignorance of name calling is an alarming development. We see this behavior being enacted by some in talk radio, so-called conservatives on social media, and in the general population of those on the Right side of the political spectrum. I have grown ever so weary of the ease with which the insult of Rino (Republican in name only), or "establishment" is withdrawn from the intellectually lazy holster of those who disagree with a Republican leader on even one issue.
     To Witt: Consider the case of Marco Rubio. Here is a guy who most conservatives agreed was the kind of candidate they would want to represent the Republican Party in a presidential election. Senator Rubio makes the "mistake" of trying to work with the majority Party in congress at the time, the Democrats, and a Democrat President, to achieve the best result he could under those conditions to solve the issues surrounding illegal immigration. For that "mortal sin" he has forever been labeled a Rino/member of the establishment.
     The real dichotomy of the position of those who call Senator Rubio a Rino for supporting the Gang of 8 bill, is that they also say the same thing about former Speaker John Boehner, who opposed the Gang of 8 bill and essentially kept it from coming to a vote in the House of Representatives. But this is exemplary of the complete capriciousness of the name calling Right. There is no real rhyme or reason to their tactics. They are more about demoting the esteem of those with whom they disagree in the eyes of others, than they are about promoting any superior ideas or values of their own.
     Another prong of the name calling strategy is to mis-characterize a person's position as something that it is not so they can be figuratively tar and feathered with an untrue accounting of their beliefs. Again, taking the example of Marco Rubio and the Gang of 8 bill, those name callers on the Right characterized the bill as amnesty. This of course is the dirtiest of words for those one-issue voters who think illegal immigration is the most serious issue facing this great nation. But the Gang of 8 bill was not about amnesty at all, as any intellectually honest person who read the bill would acknowledge. But the name callers do not deal in truth, but narratives that they create which advance their political agenda.
     The Democrats and those on the Left have always populated the school yard of political debate. It is just a shame that so many on the Right have now followed them to that playground of the weak-minded and intellectually immature. We can measure our dedication to our Founders' values, and the principles enshrined in our founding documents, by the honesty and decorum with which we conduct ourselves in the public arena of political debate. Under those terms, some of the members of our conservative movement have failed miserably.

No comments:

Post a Comment