I know I hinted that I was done with the election and politics, and believe me, I want to be. Those who know me know that I would rather spend time writing about football, basketball, philosophy, theology, or even pop culture (typically in a satirical way), but I feel like something else was important to address more fully: The oversimplified and uncharitable way people are treating their political opponents. This isn’t exactly new, but the amount of emotional accusations, hasty generalizations, and melodrama is really getting out of control. Those on the left are particularly angry right now and use rhetoric like these:
“If you voted for Trump, you just said that I don’t matter.” (where “I” is identified with some class of people that is allegedly oppressed.)
“A vote for Trump means that you’re for normalizing all of his offensive speech.”
“Hate won tonight.”
So on and so forth, all the same silly accusations that I already said many on the left would resort to. In fairness, victorious Trump supporters have said things that can paraphrased like:
“Voting for Hillary means you just wanted more political corruption.”
“If you voted for Hillary, you’re a baby murderer.”
“Remember, Hillary tried to cover for Bill’s womanizing, so if you voted for Hillary, YOU are the one who hates women.”
I get it; demonizing your opponents makes it easier to rev yourself up to oppose them, and it’s often a good way to make yourself feel better. However, such rage is ultimately immature and unhelpful and solves nothing. What it ends up doing is simply poisoning the well of dialogue.
Look, I’m the last person who thinks that it’s bad for people to be blunt, snarky, sarcastic, or firm. Those are fair game, and I put little value on hurt feelings on their own because hurt feelings are normally a pretty useless way to arrive at truth. Still, there’s a difference between being blunt or sharply critical and caricaturing the other side in order to score cheap emotional points. The problem with a lot of this rhetoric is that it does not seem to take into account the fact that political decisions are often fraught with trade-offs for each voter, and this was especially true of this election because both candidates were so disliked and so polarizing.