Politics 101: 3 Ways To Avoid Being Part Of The Problem

5002042490_f76d3f1690_zIn order for our nation to be the healthy, thriving, powerful entity we all know it can be, there are certain things that we, as citizens, have to do. I know, I know, it’s a burden. “We’re supposed to be the land of the free! How can you say that we HAVE to do something?!? That violates something in the Constitution, I’m positive!” is the lament I can hear already. Sorry, bucko, freedom isn’t free. Some people give their lives for the freedoms we enjoy, whether by dying to protect them or by dedicating their lives to ensuring them for others. The least you can do is give up a few colossally bad habits. This is for everybody; liberals need to learn this as much, if not more, than conservatives. Listen up.

#1 – You Have To Stop Believing Everything You See On The Internet.

Seriously, this is a bane to our existence, and it comes from all sides; liberal, conservative, religious, atheist, male, female, every color in the human rainbow, no matter where you are in the spectrum of whatever, I’ll guarantee that you or someone like you has found some “news” story or diatribe or blog post out in the wilds of the internet, read it, and then gone into a frothing fit of rage or an ecstatic spasm of glee over something that hit your buttons just right. That outrage/excitement then led you to splatter the link all over social media, accompanied by “OMG LOOK AT THIS!!1!1”, but bereft of any attempt to find corroboration or a reliable source to back it up. Congratulations, you ‘re a victim of clickbait and/or confirmation bias. If it seems too good to be true, it generally is. If you almost can’t believe that Senator So-and-So actually said that, get over that “almost” hump, because 99.999% of the time they didn’t. If someone got “DESTROYED!!!!” in a video, but you haven’t seen it plastered all over the news, chances are that the definition of destruction has been stretched to the extreme in that description. Learn to read with a critical eye, doubt everything until you can reliably find stuff to support it (and copy-pasted-and-slightly-modified articles on multiple sites do NOT count). One of the first GI Joe comics I ever read had the line, “Don’t turn your back on her until you’re sure she’s dead… and even then, I’d check the body for grenades.” Treat dubious online articles the same way, and learn to detect satire; you’ll save yourself embarrassment, and the rest of us from having to refute the people who saw your post, believed it, and ran with it.

#2 – Voting Straight Party Line Tickets Is A Bad Idea.

Yes, I know you’re a true blue/red/whatever Democrat/Republican/(insert minor party here), and you’re dead-set on getting people who think like you elected to office. Naturally, you think, “The candidate my party has put forward for this office is surely the best match! And he’ll naturally be better than the Other Guy!” Right? WRONG. The truth is, sometimes both major (and even some minor) candidates stink on ice. Take for example (I’m serious, please someone take them away) the candidates in the 2010 election for representative of my little slice of Hades in Tennessee. The challenger, and eventual winner, was Scott DesJarlais, a family-values man who nonetheless was very in favor of philandering and abortion when it suited him, and who votes with his party exclusively. The incumbent was Lincoln Davis, a Democrat, who might as well have been a Republican, as he tended to act like one. Neither was a good match for my values, so I “wasted my vote,” as some would say. Here’s the thing: if I was going to get a rabid conservative either way, why vote for someone who isn’t going to represent me just because he has the proper letter after his name? Do your research, find out positions, pick people who will be looking out for what you care about, for crying out loud; don’t just vote for the party, because the party is made up of people, and people are often flawed. Nobody fits your values? Why not run yourself? I mean, if no party is representing your interests, they won’t suddenly change course because you deigned to honor them with your vote. The worst that can happen is you lose… well, maybe the worst is having to sit through filibusters, but at least then you’d have a chance at representing your values and those of whomever voted for you.

#3 – The Other Guy Really Isn’t Hitler Reborn, Honest.

Hyperbole and excessive exaggeration serve no useful purpose in political or social-issues discourse. Taking something that your opponent favors or desires and blowing it out of proportion actually hurts your argument; no rational person will believe you, and you damage your own brand by associating it in their minds with rank idiocy. If you’re going to claim something, back it up with proof. If you pull the “I don’t have to prove anything, you have to disprove me” crap, you weaken your own position by acting like a child who can’t even spell “debate”, not to mention I guarantee that I’m not alone in wishing I could punch you through the computer display. Common Core will not turn kids gay; Dubya didn’t hate black people; no one is aiming to repeal the First Amendment. Since these (and others, oh so many others, why do you people hate me, so much stupid/bad that I can’t unsee) can never ever EVER be proven, you have no right to throw them out as if they were established fact. If you listen to and believe people who say such utter nonsense or who post memes with no relation to truth, you are part of the problem our country faces. And for the love of Snoopy, learn what words mean before you use them. You owe it to yourself to learn that “fascist” and “socialist” are mutually exclusive terms; trying to combine them just makes you look stupid.

That’s a good start; I’ll be back with more, because we’ve got a lot of things to fix in this country.

Jason Francis

Jason Francis is a red-state liberal, residing in the heart of Dixie where he gets to watch the train wreck of conservative politics up close and personal on a regular basis. He's lived in affluence and poverty, in both urban and rural settings, attended both public and private schools, and has visited most of the US at one point or another.


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