The Dark and Dangerous Road of Modern Politics
Imagine sitting down for dinner with the news on in the background. Everyone is enjoying dinner while half-listening to the latest political intrigue going on in Washington and in the media. Suddenly one of your guests starts calling 14- and 17-year-old girls who just happen to be a child of a notable politician "whores" and "tramps." How, as father of a young girl yourself, could you nod or laugh? I have often wondered what kind of state of mind it would take to find such a thing acceptable or even funny.
Unfortunately such conversations are going on all over the political spectrum these days. The nastiest of allegations and accusations are coming from the statists, directed towards the Tea Party and like-minded politicians. The statists and especially the far left seem to have willingly and consciously abandoned all morality, taste, and ethics for the purpose of winning a political battle. They seem willing to put the lives of young men and women at risk to win an election, and the trend is disturbing.
Take for example a young woman named Bristol Palin. Her mother entered the national political scene when she was 17. Bristol herself had not violated laws or abused anyone, or even held political office; she simply had a mother who was a politician, and Bristol had made an unfortunate decision that resulted in her becoming pregnant at a young age. The vultures of the left swarmed in on the young woman with the vilest accusations imaginable and they continue to do so today. They alleged she was promiscuous and that she was "white trash," and national shows like Saturday Night Live implied that her own father was the father of her baby.
While watching the media and blogosphere treatment of Bristol, I was reminded of the tale of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old teenager who was bullied online and eventually took her own life in her despair. As a father, I felt a stab of horror and sadness when I heard about the poor young lady. Yet Bristol Palin has endured what Phoebe did on an international level and at levels of magnitude more intensity. Frankly, it is a miracle that she was able to live through those times. The attacks were, in fact, calculated to destroy her personally.
After reading Bristol's book, I was taken aback by the misery that Bristol's life had become and the steel spine she must have had to make it through. I admired her resolve and resilience and was saddened by her ordeal. As a father, I sat back and tried, but failed, to imagine the mind of a man who could bully a young teenage girl, risking causing a suicide, and then face his family calmly. I often wonder if they have trouble facing their young daughters after writing a particularly nasty comment on a blog somewhere.
However, Bristol isn't the only person who has had to endure such vitriolic attacks. Her mother, of course, has received more such attacks than any other politician in history. Apparently threatening to kill Sarah Palin is something of a sport to some leftists. They have even proudly published a video game that allows the players to indulge their murder fantasy. I wonder how a player of such a game explains the game to his or her 10-year-old when the kid looks over Mom's or Dad's shoulder. Long before the game there were posters, drawings, and altered photographs that indulged in a sick fantasy of murdering Mrs. Palin. However, the Palin family isn't alone in being the recipient of such hostility.
The Tea Party has been under increasingly vitriolic and nasty attacks trying to bully the membership into retreating from public life. Throughout their short existence, they have been accused of being racists and white supremacist Nazis -- ironic, since their views have little in common with the National Socialist German Worker's Party. The accusers aren't limited to a few oddballs in the blogosphere and political commentators. Even the vice president of the United States implied that the Tea Party were terrorists, saying that Republican leaders had "guns to their heads" when trying to negotiate a bill. From the second-highest office in the executive branch, that is just irresponsible and dangerous.
What I can't understand is how the leftists manage to make such attacks without having a crisis of conscience. How does the black man who endured racism under Democrat George Wallace in Alabama allow leftists to trivialize the fear and oppression they went through by tossing "racism" around like a ping-pong ball? How does a feminist who suffered against the glass ceiling allow others to refer to a female politician as a "slut" or "whore" just because she is in the opposite party? How does a father allow such horrible things to be said of children just because their mother is a politician? I know if I heard such things about Sasha and Malia Obama at my dinner table, despite my deep disagreements with their father, I would throw the guest out of my house, and feel I had to shampoo the carpets where he or she walked.
It is as if the left have tossed out the window any sense of morality, ethics, tolerance, and diversity of opinion that they professed to believe in for a hundred years. The rise of the Tea Party didn't surprise me, given the vast overreach of statists in both parties, but that an entire group in politics was willing to throw out their humanity for the sake of political gain does surprise me. I suppose I had naively thought that Americans were unable to go down the roads traveled in so many dark times in human history. I suppose I cannot understand such a mindset.
The question is, will that mindset be the new politics in America? Have we traded in the debate halls and questions of Constitution and the freedom of speech for vicious allegations and attempts to destroy others' lives because we disagree with them? Will we laugh when a 47-year-old man verbally attacks a 20-year-old woman in public with words like "slut" and "whore"? Each one of us, no matter what the political persuasion, has that power in our blogs, comments online, and interactions to change the tone of the conversation. The only requirement is the courage to not remain silent.