With it being Christmas and all I’ve been hearing many family discussions of the current state of the United States and particularly its politics. A little background might first be helpful to the discussion that follows. My family is a little bit of a mix of backgrounds and politics; my parents are both pretty solid Democrats while my Grandfather is a solid Republican who made his living working on a flower seed farm. Needless to say their opinions about most political things have usually been quite different. With this in mind the conversations I have heard over the last few days around the dinner table and in the living room have made me wonder about the state of people in both parties.
What I’m hearing:
To illustrate what I’m thinking about I will start with an example. I have heard various opinions over the past few weeks concerning what ought to be done with (or in some cases to) Bush and Cheney after they leave office. I contrast this to what I have overheard concerning the current investigation into Illinois’ Governor and the President-elect.
Much of what I have heard from Democrats generally (and I do realize that much of this article is relying upon generalizations and essentialism) boils down to the opinion that Bush and Cheney are the scum of the Earth and ought to either:
- Replace the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay
- Be declared criminals and incarcerated
- Other creative solutions for punishing “evil people”
On the contrary the general opinion concerning the investigation of Governor Rod Blagojevich and any possible ties to the incoming Obama administration is that it should just go away and that the media should not proceed in its efforts to smear the opening days of the Obama administration.
For the most part the opinions that I have heard from my Conservative friends is that unless an investigation truly determines that Bush and Cheney broke the law they ought to be left to retirement. On the other hand they generally also believe that a full and thorough investigation ought to be conducted into any possible links between Obama and Blagojevich (and that the supposition behind this is that there is probably a link and that Obama probably really is like all other corrupt politicians).
What I’m thinking:
What this example, and many others over the last few months, has made me think about is the absurd double standard that both parties set. On the Democrats side they believe that certain investigations are ridiculous and simply a smear campaign while others aren’t really necessary for decrying the despicable actions of men whom it is very difficult to get an unbiased opinion of. For Republicans an investigation into possible Democratic corruption is a necessary event in the exercise of freedom and democracy while other investigations (e.g. one into Bush and Cheney’s activities of the last eight years) would just be conspiracy seeking by Democrats.
This has all reaffirmed one of my reasons for not voting for President in this last election: there is very little difference in the political values of Democrats and Republicans. They both believe that their side is right and that a strong eye is needed in order to keep the other side in line. For the most part neither side sees the hypocrisy of their opinions and values and neither side would admit that what they are advocating for is just as bad as the opposition.
The way that Democrats leap to convict Bush and Cheney of all sorts of despicable crimes is akin to the conservative hacks that call out Obama as a socialist and Muslim: their both horrendous assaults on that which makes us human. This has ultimately made me believe that this country will not be able to accomplish “change we can believe” in under an Obama administration (or any administration for that matter) until both sides can put down their prejudiced opinions of each other and recognize their greater identity as people who inhabit a common earth, a common country, and in some cases a common neighborhood.
Note: As with much of what I post on this blog the above was written in a single sitting and is certainly not as thought out as I would like it to be nor as coherent of an argument as I would desire. Feel free to tear me apart in the comments as that’s what they’re there for.