On Why Division Defines Us

Editor's Note: Today we have a guest column from a friend and listener under the pseudonym The Sarcastic Libertarian. 

When someone first contributes to a well-established website/blog, I suppose it stands to reason that one begins with their credentials. If we know anything about the internet, it’s that you don’t just go randomly posting things as fact on social media without demonstrating your worthiness to do so.

I’ll stop short of posting my resume but I will say I have a political science degree, an MBA, and am a military veteran; but what drew me to the ladies at Pantsuit Politics was the refreshing bi-partisan, rational, and informed discussion of current events and politics. I found myself time-and-again engaging with many of Pantsuit Politics listeners on Twitter in a manner rarely seen anymore. Halfway through an exchange of tweets I’d realize the other person and I seemingly didn’t agree on a single thing politically, yet there was no name calling, no bashing someone for the D or R in front of their name, no asinine red herring arguments, and no racism or bigotry or sexism or…you know that list is entirely too long these days.

I recently had an exchanges with friends that brought me to writing this piece.  It came during a political discussion at work (because that’s always an excellent idea—right after finishing your religious discussion) where we had been talking about the Trans Pacific Partnership.  The group had come to the general consensus that there seems to be a lot of people who have very strong feelings about a subject they don’t really understand in trade. I remarked “I bet we could get a lot more done in this country if we just began with the common ground on every issue.” A co-worker made the comment that I should run for office someday, and a friend immediately chimed in with “he could never run for office because people wouldn’t be able to tell who he hated.”

We all laughed. But it was an uncomfortable laugh that came with the instant realization that we’d just defined politics in this country.

When was the last time you honestly met a legitimate advocate for one of the two main candidates? Not defending them. Not attacking the other side. But really, truly advocating for them based on their policies and visions? More likely, you’ve had that conversation with a friend or family member discussing how they’re choosing the lesser of two evils. Or my personal favorite I have to vote for this person I really dislike to defeat the person I REALLY really dislike.

So it’s a chicken v. egg question. Did the insanely partisan politics lead to the immature, hateful discourse or the other way around? Is party loyalty really that strong in this country, or are these candidates really so bad that it’s all people have to cling to? Are we voting for people because of their ideas, or has it just become like college football: I want my team to beat your team or as the great Jerry Seinfeld once said, “we’re just rooting for laundry.”

Here’s the rub: I started writing this piece just before the MSNBC Commander in Chief Forum came on TV. It’s almost impossible to maintain my nuance, or not come off as someone in a glass house throwing stones. 

So what do we do?  If you are reading this blog; you are already aware. The majority of Americans are just now starting to pay attention to the election. We have to remember that people like us have been following it closely for possibly a year now. We are never going to eliminate the hate and discontent on Twitter or Facebook but we can do our part to shun it.  We can be those people in our interactions in the real world (wait does that still exist?) that make political discussion about facts and visions and policies; not name calling and partisan bickering.

OR, if you’re like me, you can decide to support a different candidate altogether this year.  BUT…I’ll have to save throwing my vote away for a blog post some other time.

In the meantime, you can follow me, the Sarcastic Libertarian, @crankyporcupine and we can share some nuance and use a little humor to get through this election.