Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ideologues On Both Sides Are Idiots

On Sunday afternoon, I got into another political flame war on Facebook. This time, it wasn't with a brainless teabagger (surprise, surprise!). It was actually with a fan of Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Someone on my Facebook friends list (whom I don't actually know personally. She had friend requested me in response to my reasonable arguments made several weeks ago on an atheist friend's Facebook wall about the burning of the Qur'an by the crazy preacher) had linked a video of a Kucinich speech and caused several people to gush about the elf. So, I just had to add my two cents about him, which is that from my personal experience with him, I got the sense that he was a phony. Leftist liberals love him, even though he's a fringe candidate who can't break out of the 3% mark among supporters in a Democratic primary.

Calling him a fringe candidate or pointing out his hypocrisy did not sit well with these people. Just like the rabid Nader supporters of 2000, the people who support Kucinich and Nader are every bit as extreme as the Palin and Bachmann supporting teabaggers on the right. Now, both sides would disagree quite passionately to be compared with the other that they hate so much, but when people are ruled by ideology more than decency, then they are simply two sides of the same coin. Ideologues are ideologues. Purity matters more than anything else. If you're not with them, then you are an enemy. It didn't matter that I identify as a liberal Democrat. To call them out on their ideological obsessions is an invitation to abusive tirades, as you will see with one guy who got a little too personal. When I read his response to what I wrote, I was stunned. This is the kind of emotional rant I expect from a teabagger, not from someone on the left. It just goes to prove that ideologues are all the same.

Why am I a pragmatist (or a moderate)? Well, it comes from the life I have lived. As an officer's kid whose friends from elementary through high school were fellow "military brats", I bonded over personal compatability, not politics. Not that I was into politics prior to 1989. However, since joining Facebook in 2008, I have learned that many of my former military brat high school classmates are Republican / conservative. Also, many members of the church I've been a member of all my life are conservative and / or Republican. My years in the Navy introduced me to more conservatives / Republicans, as well as my college experience at BYU. I can't deny that my personal values tend to run on the conservative side (I'm risk-averse and overly cautious about most decisions I make, which is the definition of a conservative), so its natural that I have become good friends with other people who are conservative. However, unlike them, my politics and spiritual views are liberal and I've identified as a Democrat since the 1980 election when I was eight years old.

In my personal experience, I've never met a Kucinich supporter that I liked. They are unreasonable and full of rigid ideology. I guess its no surprise, because Kucinich's personality is quite grating. He's not someone I'd ever want for a friend. If anyone needs an insight into his true character, one doesn't have to go far. His recent lawsuit against the company that runs the cafeterias in the U.S. Capitol complex is a prime example. He claimed that he was served a pitted olive in his sandwich, which caused thousands of dollars damage to his teeth. Yet, as CNN's Anderson Cooper revealed in a broadcast, Kucinich was seen giving a speech on the House floor two days after the supposed olive incident. He did not appear to be in pain at all, as his lawsuit had claimed. Kucinich is a man who loves to talk, even if no one is listening, and he prides himself on being an irritant in the body politic. Lately, he has threatened to file impeachment charges against President Obama for authorizing military action against Muamar Gadhafi's forces in Libya (even though Obama had U.N. and NATO approval and could not wait for Congress to debate the issue, as Gadhafi's forces were closing in on the rebellion and they had to act immediately).

I know that some on the right think that I'm an "ideologue" because I'm so passionate about my political opinions, but the bottom line is that I value relationships / friendships more than politics. I would never end a friendship over a political disagreement. The whole point of life on earth is the relationships with foster with one another. The ego wants to divide and separate, viewing the other as "the enemy." The soul transcends all the barriers: race, gender, religion, politics, nationality, orientation, age, etc. Ideologues require people with the same mindset to reinforce their viewpoints. I've always been quite comfortable to stand on my own. I don't need anyone's validation.

I was surprised to see my 10th grade English teacher comment on this discussion, complimenting me! She's not a FB friend with the person whose wall we were debating on, so my dialogue must've appeared on my wall for all my FB friends to read. Below is only part of the debate. The most interesting part. Enjoy! (My words are in italics to make it easier to distinguish).

Me:
For me, I think it matters how a person treats other people. I don't vote for a politician just because they happen to vote my way or says stuff that I agree with. Living one's values is important to me.

Fran Laakman (my 10th Grade English Teacher):
I admire YOUR convictions and character, Nick!

Ronald G. Peete
I had much rather have a New Age Spiritulast running the country who takes the time to meditate than any a$$hole Con$ervaturd you can name!!! NIcholas, don't commment on things YOU know nothing about!!!

Me:
I got my degree in International Politics and interned for Vice President Gore in his U.S. Capitol Office in 2000, so yes, I do think I know what the hell I'm talking about. I'm not an ideologue. I'm a liberal Democrat, that is true, but I'm quite pragmatic because my friendships over the years seems to run 50-50 conservative - liberal. I don't like ideologues on the left or right, so this excludes people like Kucinich and Gingrich, Cynthia McKinney and Sarah Palin.

Working in the U.S. Capitol for four months, I had first hand experience dealing with some of the politicians you only know about from TV or the Internet. I can personally testify that both Kucinich and Santorum were real assholes to deal with.

Ronald G. Peete
Nicholas, I don't give a rats ass about your fancy pieces of paper You are a bigot and an idiot in my book!!! Itis the fence sitters like you thatspout your fancy education that cause most of the problems. Get off the fucking fence and stand up for one side or the other!! Yes and I can affirm that yo are also an A##HOLEo deal with!! Your pretty college diploma don't mean shit in the real world!! You think you are the greatest thing since french toast my friend but you are a boorish clod in my book!!!

Me:
You have some serious anger issues, dude. The point that I'm making is that I base my opinions on experience and knowledge gained from actual study. Your comments show that you are getting emotional about this disagreement of opinion. I have nothing against you personally. I'm just not an ideologue. I don't view conservatives as evil like you do. I don't vote Republican, so you don't have to worry about that. Sorry you feel so angry about this disagreement of opinion. I'm so happy for you that Kucinich gives meaning to your life. I just wish you would follow a far more worthier person than him because I guarantee you that if you met him, he probably wouldn't like you at all. He's an ego-maniac who knows how to play his base.

Ronald G. Peete
I am so sorry that you use your fancy education for a battering ram and that you know nothing about New Age Spiritulists who meditate. Believe me I had rather associate with them than an overeducated stuffshirt that lords over the rest of us mere mortals! Yes I do have anger issues I have anger issues with Republicans, Tea Party freaks and people who have tospout off about how eudcated they are!! You do not impress me Nicholas when the first thing you have to throw in my face is your fancy University Education!!! Brag about that with people who give a damn becaus it does not impress me one bit!!

Me:
It wasn't a brag. Above, you told me to not comment on things I know nothing about, so I was telling you that I do know what I'm talking about because I studied politics, read political books and theories, and interned in government where I saw first hand these politicians up close and personal. That matters more than someone who gets their info from tv pundits and personal opinion. If this causes you issues, well, there's nothing stopping you from going to college and majoring in political science

I consider myself a New Age Spiritualist, which is why Kucinich's behaviour bothers me. He gives the movement a bad name when he fails to live up to the values he claims to hold. There's no consistency and authenticity. Kind of like John Edwards claiming to advocate for the poor while buying an enormous mega-mansion and getting $400 haircuts.

Ronald G. Peete
give it a rest Nicholas I don't really care!!!

Me:
You seriously have issues, though. You've judged me without knowing anything all because my view of Kucinich doesn't agree with your rose-coloured view of him. If you were an authentic New Age spiritualist, you would know that your anger has nothing to do with me or the Republicans, but something about yourself that you don't want to face. To accuse someone of not knowing politics because their opinions differ from your own then to learn that the person you're accusing probably knows more than you because he studied it for four years in college...well, let it be a lesson to you not to prejudge people without getting to know them.

I wish you peace.

LeaAnn Johnson
I think Nicholas is pretty good people even IF he won't admit conservatives are evil. MOST people DON'T know what a politician is like in RL, and in the end I don't think it matters. What matters is what they do politically for the people, and there Kucinich SHINES. If he works his base by pushing progressive ideals, then he's the shiznit. End of discussion.

Me:
Because its not black and white. Half of my friends are conservative. I don't base friendships on politics, but on common values. The truth is that my personality is a little more conservative than I care to admit, but I've been a Democrat since I was an 8 year old hoping President Carter would win reelection.

I feel bad for conservatives because they have no idea just how bad the Republican Party is. They just don't want to open their eyes and see how much they are getting screwed over by their own party and given convenient scapegoats and distractions to keep them occupied.

For me, personal conduct and ethical values matter more than whether or not a politician agrees with my opinions or not. That's why I would never vote for Dennis Kucinich. He is a fringe candidate because he can never get above 2 or 3 % in the polls or among supporters. Obviously, the majority of Democrats prefer other candidates, not him.

LeaAnn Johnson
I like FRINGE, because both the political parties we have are RIGHT WING. DK is truly LEFT in his political leanings, and is labeled an extremist. That's fucked up. More left extremists are NEEDED to move the entire system back to the left some. Things are completely fascist these days.

One thing in the discussion that I found interesting was that Ronald told me that I had no right to speak on something I know nothing about. So, when I mentioned my "credentials", he got angry. Obviously, though, I hit a nerve because it was a smackdown. He made a presumption about me that I did not know what I was talking about, but when I revealed that I had more knowledge and experience than him, he couldn't deal with it, so he got nasty. I did check his personal info on Facebook and he's an older guy who retired as an enlisted guy in the U.S. Air Force. He probably didn't go to college, so its a chip on his shoulder.

I've had this problem with people on the right, though. I did not expect such a nasty attack from someone claiming to be a liberal. Wow. It always amazes me that so many people mistake their opinion about politics to be "informed enough" to compare to mine. I actually love politics and read about it from many angles. I studied it in college and had to read a lot of dry theory books and write papers. I also got the privilege of experiencing it up close and personal during my internship in D.C. So, I don't think its arrogant of me to claim that I know more about politics than the average American who gets their information from Fox or MSNBC. Sorry, but sitting on your lazy fucking ass watching political pundits argue about politics does not qualify your parroted opinion as being an "informed one." Try going to college, majoring in the topic, being required to take a slew of political science classes, having professors assign you readings in political theories from the Classical Period, the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, the years between the great wars, and since the end of the second world war. And then having you turn in papers that force you to articulate all that you've learned in various political theories, or taking tests that require essays and short answers, rather than multiple guess. Nothing is more dangerous than arrogance based on ignorance. The serious study of politics and history should have a moderating effect on a person, because ideologies never work for the long term. Its too rigid and has a tendency to stifle the necessary creative ideas that reflect the evolution of humanity.

As I posted on my own Facebook wall, a person with a political opinion shaped by watching Fox or MSNBC has no right to claim equal status with a person who has studied the topic, loves the topic, and worked in the topic. Its the equivalent of a couch potato having watched every episode of all three CSI shows and claiming to know more than a criminologist about investigating a crime scene. Wrong!

Want to know another gem about Kucinich? Seen above is the elf and his gorgeous young wife who towers over him. Would he snag such a babe if he wasn't a member of Congress? When he came to Portland in 2007 to get support for his campaign for president, I went out of curiosity, even though I did not like him (when I was an intern, he had yelled at me on the phone because I did not recognize who he was when he had called the Office of the Vice President for a favour). When he came out to speak, the first thing he did was kiss his wife in a passionate embrace that came off as very tacky. It was like he was showing off (I also thought that Gore's passionate kiss of his wife Tipper at the 2000 DNC was also kind of tacky). The nerd who snagged the babe. Yeah, we'll see how long that lasts.

Based on what I know about him and the stuff I've read, he has a Napoleonic complex, or what my 12th grade English teacher called a "Short man's syndrome." You know why small dogs bark the loudest? They are overcompensating for their size, trying to intimidate others not to mess with them. Congressman Kucinich might talk a good game about spirituality and higher consciousness, but in nearly every incident I've seen of him, his ego comes out. He is no better than the other politician. If he has an opposite, though, I would say that it would be Senator Scott Brown, who is immensely likable, funny, comfortable with who he is, and humble. I'll always vote for a candidate that I like who shows himself or herself to be moderate / pragmatic, decent, and not interested in ideology over a candidate who might share the same beliefs as me but is a jerk, arrogant, and a hypocrite. I wish my fellow liberals would stop viewing Kucinich and Nader as untouchable saints who are "incorruptible." The truth is that those two men are still in thrall with their own egos and I'm glad that they are on the fringe where they belong.

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