In the week following the re-election of Obama, the closely contested campaign has incited a continuation of very powerful and negative rhetoric. One always expects people to either express their elation or disappointment, but somehow the rhetoric that is appearing is much more toxic and unusual. There will always be a few who describe the future with predictions of doom and gloom, but this time the reaction to loss is spawning something else.
When I began reading the latest news this morning, groups in all 50 states are collecting signatures for secession from the union. What does this mean? The citizens of the United States have always prided their selves in the smooth and peaceful transfer of power after elections. The only time that it didn’t was the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, with the American Civil War as the result. Lincoln’s election was only the final point in the process of division that had been going on for much of the early 19th century. The conditions that led to that great conflict are somewhat similar to those that we are currently observing; a nation politically divided and frustrated with finding a compromise solution.
I can foresee that without voluntary intervention, the conditions could spin terribly out of control. With the passions pushing people, it may be become more difficult to dial down the hate filled rhetoric. However, if the rhetoric doesn’t dial down and people begin acting out, then we are risk of losing the nation to incidences of social disorder. We have seen enough of that when the inner cities burned during the riots of the past and the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Those leaders on the right, who have been inciting people with fear for nearly five decades, should be the first to come out and attempt to quell the passions of their followers. Ronald Reagan or George HW Bush would do just that. The right wing extremist leaders must act and act quickly if we are to avoid an escalation of social and civil unrest.
Just in the last weekend, a post published on the Muskego Patch by someone of the far right, exploded creating a situation where the Patch editors finally had to close the comments to the piece because of the personal attacks and the escalation of toxic rhetoric. In this case it wasn’t just the lefties slamming the author, but also the righties who jumped in to pull the covers off the blogger and expose the author’s questionable background and sleazy agenda.
Again, two days ago; another author published a blog post defending the author of the first piece, and it too went toxic, causing the Patch editors to shut this one down also. This time, as in the first case, both those on the right and left joined together to expose the lies and misinformation.
As I view it, we all have a responsibility to monitor the rhetoric and attempt to dial it down before it becomes so toxic. If we don’t, we’ll never be able to bridge the chasms that have been created. This is something that we must do. If we don’t heal, what chance do our progeny have in the future for a safe and productive environment?