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fear and loathing in politics

August 21, 2010

I am not the most political person in the world.  I have a few causes that I feel are important enough to make my voice heard about, the most important of which is equality, but I’m smart enough to know that on a lot of issues, I just don’t have enough information to speak out.

I am, however, a responsible citizen and voter.  Every election, I take my time to educate myself about the candidates and the issues enough to make an informed decision on how to vote.

I don’t believe in telling others how to spend their votes, though I don’t mind a little lively debate on the issues.

All of that said, there are a few things that will turn me away from a candidate quickly.  One of them is mud-slinging.  It’s one thing to point out your opponents flaws, it is quite another to smear them with feces.  Particularly for personal things that have no bearing on whether or not that person can do the job he or she is running for.  It should not matter to me if my senator has an open marriage or has a mistress, if it does not affect the job.

Now, if said senator is running on a platform that promotes “the sanctity of marriage” and is working on his third divorce, then I might care.

Another problem for me is using scare tactics.  This is how the Mormon and Catholic and far right convinced California to vote for prop 8.  They used insane scare tactics that, if actually analyzed, amount to a lot of hot air.  But that’s the thing about fear.  It doesn’t have to be rational, it just has to push buttons.

So they tell voters that are already fairly conservative that if prop 8 does not pass, it will put their children in danger.  That it will force schools to teach homosexuality.  That it will open the door to bestiality and pedophilia and it will turn their children, husbands, wives gay…that it will destroy their marriage and end “traditional” marriage. They wrap it in a bow that claims they want government out of marriages, all the while giving government the absolute authority to declare what is and is not a marriage.  And perfectly normal, intelligent people react in fear.

A little investigation and rational thinking applied to any of these would reveal it as a lot of hot air, but they pounded their message across and flooded the airwaves with it until people were saturated and believed that they “knew the truth”.

Now I am seeing this same tactic employed by the other side.  I get a lot of emails from various and sundry associations purporting to defend us from the horrors of the republican party and the far right.  They use inflammatory language and take things out of context and blow it all up so that it’s larger than life.

To top it all off, they finish with a plea for money.  Because without my money the other side just might win.

I have news for you, I have no money to give you, and even if I did, you lost it because instead of presenting facts and discussing ramifications, you sank to their level and tried to use fear to motivate me.  I don’t respond well to fear-mongering and hate-speech.  No matter which side it’s coming from.

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