post election ruminations

It is two days after election day. I am thankful that the ordeal is over and hope we can all get back to the business of being Americans and not pro-Bushies or pro-Kerries or anti-Kerries or anti-Bushies. I am thankful that we do not have a drawn out process full of hanging chads and recounts and litigation.

I am completely saddened at the high level of negetive emotions that have been displayed over the last few months. From my perspective, the anti-Bushies (the Michael Moore devoutees) have been completely consumed by a hatred directed at the person of George Bush. They desire, not only, to see him removed from office, but actually wish physical harm to come his way. Wouldn’t it be nice, they ponder, if someone just simply assassinated him?

I do not see this level of ill-will directed at John Kerry. I myself do not like the man’s policies. I have no opinion of him as a person, beyond my usual judgement about his character (or lack thereof). I admit that I have high standards when it comes to evaluating a person’s integrity, but the consolation I offer is forgiveness for not meeting those high standards. In other words, I have limited respect for the policies and values of someone who does not uphold my high standards, but I readily say, “It’s not his fault – he’s just swallowed the notion that morality is dictated by popular vote and not natural law.”

Of course, forgiveness for this mentality does not equate to any desire to see the person running the country.

But at least my attitude to John Kerry is one of annoyance at his limited viewpoint, his failure to understand human nature, his insistence of believing falsehoods as truths. But hatred? No. Especially not directed at him personally.

So, my thoughts go back four years to our last election. Was the level of hatred the same? I definitely did not feel intense hatred towards Al Gore. My attitude was much the same as that towards John Kerry. I had no desire to see him President, but did not feel all consumed by an intense loathing of him or his policies. I do think the personal hatred toward George Bush began four years ago with the perceived notion that he stole the election. But, of course, those who hated him had a limited arsenal of things to hate – he hadn’t done anything yet.

But I force myself to go back even farther to the years of Bill Clinton. Did conservatives have the same sort of personal hatred toward Clinton as the liberals have toward Bush? My instictive answer is “No…no way!” And it’s an emphatic answer, too. Yet every time I try to recall those emotions I felt those many years ago, my mind turns from the task. This leads me to suspect that the emotions did, in fact, run deep. The man’s bulbous nose still evokes a roiling of the stomach. Of all the people on the planet, I think Clinton would be one of the last I’d be interested in meeting. Perhaps his wife is #2. Did I wish him death? Perhaps I might have hoped for a sudden heart attack….except of course, that this would mean an Al Gore presidency. I am pretty sure that I never wished upon him the agonizing death I’ve heard desribed by one anti-Bushie who wanted to personally shoot the president with numerous shots to his extremities in the hopes of a slow and painful death.

So, did I hate the man, Bill Clinton? Yes, at the time I directed my hatred to the man AND his policies and not just to the policies. Do I still hate the man? No. He repulses me, but that’s not hatred. That’s the same gut reaction one might have when accosted by a beggar with leprosy. It is not an appropriate reaction, but a purely human one.

Will the anti-Bushies hate the man, George Bush, ten years from now? It is undoubtedly true. Liberals continue to despise Ronald Reagan and rejoice in his demise. They probably would have rejoiced in his illness, except that his mind was not able to comprehend it, and they would wish upon him an end of full consciousness of its misery.

What baffles me most, though, about these hate mongers who personally depise the President and wish him and his family and anyone like them ill, is THEIR insistance that conservatives are filled with hate. It seems to me a case of pointing out the splinter in your neighbor’s eye while ignoring the log in your own.

I know that most of the problem stems from the perception that the policies of social conservatives are xyz-ophobic or anti-abc. If we oppose gay marriage, we are homophobic. If we oppose illegal immigration, we are xenophobic. If we oppose abortion, we are anti-woman. If we oppose high taxes, we are anti-poor.

I’m sure the farthest thing from their minds is that social conservatives envision a better America…a more loving America…a freer America.

I explained to Bill last night: I think there was a time when society cared most about producing a better society. And that meant, promoting good and protecting children. It meant enforcing public decency. It meant encouraging behavior that was best for children and families, the building blocks of society and the seed of the future. It meant personal sacrifice for the good of all.

Today, this concept is seen as oppressive. We have freedom of speech, which includes foul language in public places. We have freedom of expression, which includes the right of young people to wear revealing clothing and grope each other in public. We have freedom of religion, which includes the right to attack or belittle other religions. We believe that no one, and certainly not the government, has any right to infringe upon our ability to do whatever we want and whenever we want. We can marry…we can divorce. If children are hurt by this, too bad.

Speaking of which, I have a student in my CCD class. I don’t know which one. I think it’s a girl. At the end of class, I ask each student to write a prayer request on a slip of paper which is placed in a prayer box. They are not read aloud, but I read them after class. Apparently this child’s parents are going through a divorce. Every week, without fail, she prays for their reunion. She doesn’t pray for their happiness. She doesn’t give a crap about THEIR happiness. All she cares about is HER happiness, which is non-existant in the current situation. I know many people think that a child would be happier in a divorced home, because living with two people who dislike each other would, in theory, be miserable. I propose that it is only miserable for the adults, and the children care little about how their parents feel about it. But there is an overriding right of parents to happiness, and it matters little that their children suffer immensely.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all lived in a bubble and our actions had no effect on others?

Someone once said that freedom does NOT mean being able to do whatever you want. FREEDOM MEANS BEING ABLE TO DO THE RIGHT THING. We can’t do whatever we want. Our actions DO have an effect on others. We can’t kill our neighbor. We can’t steal from the grocery store or the mall. We can’t drive recklessly or at outrageous speeds. We can worship (or not) however we choose. We can publicly denounce a wrong action by another or by the government. We can get together in small or large numbers and have meetings about whatever we want and can do so on public property with proper permits. We can vote and can encourage others to vote and we can complain or celebrate those results.

And we can wait peacefully until the next election to change the government if we don’t like the way the current one is running things. And while we wait, we can work on grass roots efforts to educate others about the problems we see.

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