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Bill Gaventa: Political hatred whipped up by both parties growing tiresome

Bill Gaventa: Political hatred whipped up by both parties growing tiresome

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I am getting tired of being told to hate, or that I am a hater.

In two days, two out of about 20 emails from the Trump campaign say this:

The Radical Left hates you, Bill.

FOUR YEARS AGO, Hillary called you DEPLORABLE.

Then, Joe Biden said we aren’t good people.

NOW, Nancy is calling you a DOMESTIC ENEMY.

That’s what the Liberal Elites think of us. They hate everything we stand for and they’ll do whatever it takes to BRING US DOWN.

This afternoon, a Facebook meme posted by someone on the “radical left” or in the “liberal elites” (or a Russian meme manufacturer) offered for consideration a picture of Trump supporters at what looks like a rally, dressed to the hilt in Trump paraphernalia, giving multiple fingers to whomever was taking the picture. Maybe the “fake news” press, but we don’t know. The meme asked, assuming a Democratic win, “What are we going to do with these ‘people?’”

What’s really deplorable is both of these.

The Trump campaign is obviously trying to make me feel like a victim, justifying their hatred of the so-called “liberal elites” and wanting me to do the same by donating funds that will be matched seven-fold. (Obviously, it seems, to pay for a campaign that has spared no expense.)

The other meme clearly assumes that all Trump supporters are perhaps irredeemable. Using the words “these” or “those” with “people” is like waving a red flag at me. I have worked in the arena of disability for most of my career. Far too many historical movements that led to oppression, killings and terrible institutionalization began with those words, couched just like that, assuming that one trait of their character or one aspect of their story utterly and wholly defines who they are in totally negative terms. The labels get even worse when sometimes justified by religious voices assuming to bear the judgment of God.

Moreover, since I am not connected to many groups at “radical” ends of the political spectrum, I fear that these are pretty tame compared to what’s being spewed out across social media and beyond.

Both are just too predictable, easy and lazy.

Predictable, because we assume if the other side thinks this, then we are justified in doing so as well.

Easy, because they’re not asking me to think, just to react in outrage. It does not take a lot of thought or creativity to create emails or memes like these. We are thus supposed to think the issues really are that simple.

Lazy, because all of the energy being stirred up is not being put to any good use. Being a responsible citizen and voter takes more work, certainly more thought and consideration than this. If someone is trying to win me over to one side or another, they’re going to have to spell out what they’re for, how they hope to bring issues to the table to work through to solutions, and how we, the citizenry, will need to be involved beyond our vote or donation. That’s the problem in the Senate right now. It is too easy and too lazy just to sit on bills being brought to the table. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is just too predictable.

I want people vying for my vote to surprise me with some new ideas and/or responses that are not just knee-jerks. I want people who want my ideas, not who tell me what to think. I want people to acknowledge it will take more than a government program to address the complexity of the issues we face. I want people in office who might be willing to take risks for the sake of a better future and a stronger community, even if it means calling out people within our own political parties and risking the ire of the party line.

I don’t know the names of the people or actual sources producing a lot of this stuff, or even if they’re Americans. But we should know better than to fall for it, not only because it’s morally wrong, but because it’s just too predictable, easy, lazy…and tiresome.

Rev. Bill Gaventa, founder and director emerigus of the Institute on Theology and Disability, is a former Wacoan now living in Austin.

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