Do people forward you as much political “humor” as they send to me? Since I started publishing this site, I get even more of it.
Just this week, different people sent me the two graphics here. One person sent a batch of anti-Republican stickers asking if I could use them. And then I got a batch of anti-Democratic graphics from another friend, with a note saying, “I didn’t know if you could use any of these graphics on your website or not. Very good bumper stickers.”
I appreciate my friends’ good intentions. I really do. (In fact, a few of you send me things that do turn into article ideas. You know who you are. Thanks.) But politics is already vacuous enough without dumbing it down even further. This isn’t what I want to be about. I don’t want to be “room noise” or “elevator music,” to steal a couple of phrases from an obscure old song.
Simplistic sloganeering such as what you see here doesn’t help anyone. Honestly, I don’t even find it funny. I will gladly take something I disagree with and write about why I think someone is wrong. I realize that some people don’t appreciate that — as was discussed in the comments of that article — but it’s a balance I try to strike between ideas, on the one hand, and attracting new readers, on the other. But most of what I see offered as political discourse today strikes me as the equivalent of children on a playground shouting insults at one another.
I used to be angry. I used to want to strike out at the idiots who dared to disagree with me. I think I’m a little smarter than that now — maybe a bit less like a 3-year-old in an adult’s body. Now, I just want to share my thoughts about what’s coming and connect with people who are going to help me achieve my goals. I’m honestly not sure what the point of most of the political shouting around me is.
If you’re engaging in the kind of political bumper sticker wars represented here, I’d really like to ask you something. What is it you’re trying to achieve? Do you think it makes anything better when you misrepresent what your opponents are saying in order to make fun of them? Does it help you understand them better? Does it make you more credible in their eyes? Does it get you any closer to achieving anything? Or are you just angry and this is your form of a tantrum?
I suspect most of it comes from the fact that people don’t know what they’re trying to achieve. They’ve grown up with a political system that increasingly teaches them that the way to bring about change is to belittle and attack other people. And since it’s not really possible to achieve much in that environment, they’ve lost all sight of what they’re trying to do — so they’re just making themselves feel a bit better by attacking those they’re angry with.
This doesn’t make any sense. I realize that most people are going to keep playing the bumper sticker game. Can’t some of us be more reasonable and civil? I know there are some people who feel the same way, because I’ve been fortunate enough to attract some regular commenters here who are quite good at disagreeing without belittling other people. For that, I have to tell you that I appreciate every one of you who does that. I know the vast majority simply read and leave, but thanks to you who take the time to share your thoughts in intelligent and civil ways. Whether I agree with you or not, I hope we can all keep treating each other with respect.