Saturday, September 13, 2008

Politics and Emotion

Quick--Sarah Palin may be the next Vice President of the United States. How do you feel?

Quick--Barack Obama might rally his campaign and sweep into office along with both sides of Congress. How do you feel?

Politics has always been a big part of American life. But in the last couple of elections it is evident that people have gotten emotional about politics. Sure, some percentage of the people always have been emotional. Those people were labeled extremists (and they exist on both the left and the right); those people were mocked and considered dangerous and unhealthy.

Now people don't just want their candidate to win. They feel HE HAS TO WIN. He has to win or the country--no the world will be destroyed. This type of thinking and fervor has never held any weight with me.

Look it is pretty evident from reading this blog that I am hoping McCain wins the upcoming election. This is despite the fact that I am not religious and I'm pro-choice. I've thought about issues a fair bit (some would say by an unhealthy amount) and I've reached my conclusions.

But what if Obama wins? My biggest worry is that between Obama and both houses of Congress that whole new government agencies and departments might be created ala the Department of Education. Once created such additions have historically lasted years and years--the next president can't simply press the reset button. And I'd worry about judges being appointed that don't respect the Constitution. All that said, the country would not go down in flames. Terrorists would not take over every street corner. Do I think Obama would make a good president? No, not really. Do I think an Obama presidency would be the end of the United States? Of the world? Of course not.

Jay Cost has an interesting article about how the Jefferson-Adams campaign was hostile:
The first real presidential contest in American history turned out to be exuberantly venomous. On both sides handbills, pamphlets, and articles in party newspapers denounced, disparaged, damned, decried, denigrated, and declaimed.
However, he also notes:
By the end of their days, Adams and Jefferson were once again best buds. That's a lesson to all of us not to take this stuff so seriously.
That is the major concern. Come next year, either McCain or Obama will be taking office. The worst thing that could happen for this country would be for the people on the losing side to not respect that we held a fair election, a candidate won, and it is time to move on. Attempts to make a newly inaugurated president a lame-duck from day one would be extremely detrimental to the country.

As a final thought, I'll relay a story told to me by a friend. This friend was having lunch with friend of hers--just to catch up, just two ladies sharing a quick bite to eat and chatting. Somehow the topic of conversation turned to politics in general and Sarah Palin in particular. At this point, my friend's friend couldn't contain herself.
Friend of Friend: Don't you understand? Palin can't win. She's a c*nt! She's a c*nt.
Mind you the pair were sitting in a public restaurant. Realizing this, my friend tried to calm her friend down.
Friend: OK, I understand you are upset. You are entitled to you feelings but don't you think--

Friend of Friend: No! She's a c*nt! A c*nt!
This is not healthy behavior and part of me worries if it spreads too far. On the other hand, I tend to think people will calm down after the election is past us. If they don't it could get very, very ugly.

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