This post was inspired by a posting on George Takei’s blog entitled Why I Miss the Old School Republicans. For those unaware, George is the former “Mr Sulu” of Star Trek fame, and now lends his wit and wisdom to daily posts on Facebook, with almost 2.5 million followers.
George argues the Republican Party has been hijacked by a minority of religious extremists, and his points have merit. After all, the Republicans are the party of smaller government; less intrusion into the lives of citizens with a stay-off-my-land, live and let live attitude. Therefore, it seems hypocritical that Republicans are spending more and more time telling anyone who isn’t a straight male how to live their lives. Granted, Mr Takei – being gay himself – clearly has an agenda and self-interest here, but that doesn’t mean his point isn’t valid.
I’ve noticed the same thing in the past few years about the Democratic Party. The party of inclusiveness, of free speech, of coexistence… except that you can only talk and coexist if you’re a Democrat. Protesting conservatives speaking at college campuses, for example, is highly representative of the ideals of the Democratic Party. However, trying to get them banned from speaking in the first place, or seeking to disrupt their speeches to the point of surrender is not.
Believe it or not, I can draw similarities between our two primary political parties and that great bogeyman of the western world itself, the Taliban. During the Taliban-pushed Qur’an-burning riots and uprisings of this past Spring which were all over the global news (and in which a friend of mine stationed in Afghanistan was killed), a single Stars and Stripes reporter went out and interviewed a bunch of average Afghan adults who weren’t the small but extremely vocal (and violent) minority setting things aflame. He found that while most Afghans were upset about the burning of the Qur’ans, they weren’t ready to go out and lynch any non-Muslim they could find; they just wanted to go to work, feed their families, and get on with their lives.
I find parallels in this with our parties: a small but very vocal minority pushing and cajoling the majority into acts which are counter to the very premises of these parties, while most party members are more concerned and too busy with working (or looking for a job) and supporting their families to be able to stop them. And in a world where the smallest action can become global news in minutes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. In Afghanistan, according to one citizen, “people in the West see the images of demonstrations and they think all of us are the same… we are not all the same. I didn’t join the demonstrations. But the West sees only the violence here.” It’s not any different here… a few rabid members make it into mass media, and those actions immediately become gospel, and convince their counterparts that a war is being declared, and civility and tolerance go out the window in the name of theoretical self-defense.
To quote a popular meme at the moment: “Well, that escalated quickly.”