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I seem to be a rare kind of person that appears to fit politically with just about anybody.  I find myself realizing that Republicans and Democrats often assume I am one of them, philosophically, if not actually.  In fact I am not a member of a political party and never have been, nor do I want to be.  I agree with some of the things each party is a proponent of, and disagree with some of the other things.  What I don't agree with is the holier-than-thou attitude that has become acceptable in modern culture, especially when discussing politics.

I hate that.  I don't think all Republicans are horrible, nasty people by definition.  And not all Democrats are entitled lazy, or immoral.  What I do think is that our culture has descended so far into an oppressive, politically split opposition mentality that it has become OK for otherwise very nice people to say hateful things about each other, and worse, to believe them.  Yet I am expected to naturally accept whatever hateful generalization someone makes about people they don't agree with.  They seem to believe that 'sticks and stones will break (fill in some political figure you detest)'s bones'.

I was shocked the other day when I logged onto Facebook.  I have taken to counting the number of non-political posts before the first political one appears in my news feed.  Last Monday there were a record 16 posts that had nothing to do with politics before my screen was polluted with a bitter tirade against someone or other in Washington.  I thought to myself, sure, some of these posts are cute cat videos, and others are vapid inspirational messages.  But some were nice updates on friends or relatives and a few pictures from my cousins from when we were much younger.

The next day the count was zero.  The very first post was a nasty political blast.  Most days it's around two or three.  After that they are liberally sprinkled among the pictures of food and cat videos.

Of course it's perfectly acceptable to have a holier-than-thou attitude when discussing the weather, supposedly the thing we are allowed to talk about when it's verboten to discuss politics.  Insulting meteorologists, especially television meteorologists has become a national pastime.  But here is the difference.  Everyone agrees that the weather announcer is almost always wrong, or even always wrong.  It is a unifying discussion.  It brings us all together with the exception, perhaps, of meteorologists.  Political conversations have a polarizing effect.

Even a cat video is better than most political posts.  Don't get me wrong -- I love cats.  But at this stage I would much rather watch my own cat chasing her tail with no camera anywhere nearby than watch a contrived video of someone else's cat.  Or dog.  Or dancing babies.

I do admit, though, than any video of a squirrel being hurled off of one of those spinning bird feeders is still hilarious in my book.  In fact I love them so much that here's one for you to enjoy:

My liberal friends are outraged at a president who seems to want to take everything away from the people who need it most, and who has no filter on what he says or tweets.  But their comments prove that they have lowered themselves to his level -- or below -- when it comes to hurling epithets at him or his band of merry Cabinet members.

My conservative friends' tone is different but equally divisive as they express outrage at something or other, often to do with morality, that a Democrat has been caught doing.

Reasoned discussion of issues has given way to name calling.  And while 'words may never hurt me', name calling has about a zero percent chance of actually resolving issues, while reasoned discussion has better odds.

Or so the theory goes.

My wife and I once went on a light house tour in northern Wisconsin, conducted by a charming woman complete with a northern mid-west accent, yeah sure, you betcha.  We started on the ground floor, where she showed us the doors to an apartment.

"That's where the lighthouse keeper lived," she said.

"Oh that is interesting, can we go inside?" we asked.

"Wouldn't that be great," she replied.  "Noo, unfortunately the apartment is rented out now, so we can't go inside.'

On the next floor she pointed out a closet where the lighthouse keeper kept tools of the trade like a telescope or a sextant.  We asked to see it, but she told us, "Wouldn't that be great?  Noo, it's been painted over so many times we can't open it any more."

We finally made it to the top where she told us about the light and the lens through a trap door above our heads.  "Can we have a look?"  "Wouldn't that be great?" she said.  "Doncha know, it's too dangerous to climb the ladder to go up there."

Facebook could be a great place for polite and reasoned political discourse.  It's not something I would especially enjoy, but for a lot of people it could be a way of coming to consensus, rather than the vicious dodge ball mentality that makes people feel it is OK to inflict as much damage on the other team as possible.

Wouldn't that be great?

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