Democrats, I’ve a question for you

I may be a cat into pigeons here, but why are some of you so dismissive and even rude about people who don’t hold the same views as you? Now before you start getting very angry with me, hear me out.

In the last 3 years, WHYS has broadcast over 30 shows from all over America. And one of the real constants of those trips has been the animosity and derision which some Democrats pour in the direction of their political rivals.

I used to think George Bush was responsible (he’s a divisive figure whatever you think of him). But he’s off the radar now, and the feelings remain.

We heard it again today on our show from Georgetown, Texas (see below).

And I’m not writing this to discuss the merits of certain political positions, but more to ask you about when robust political discussion becomes intolerance, and if you think that crossover is a problem.

Maybe you think some beliefs warrant derision and dismissal.

I’ve been across the West of America in the past 3 months and the beliefs like supporting the invasion of Iraq, or opposing abortion, or being concerned about Obama’s tax plans or governance experience, or opposing gay marriage, are consistently treated as nothing short of nonsense by Democrats.

I wrote about this antipathywhile on the BBC’s Talking America bus. But maybe I need to more explicit.

In my experience, the left in America feels far more dismissive of their opponents, than the other way round. (Though I have met my fair share of right-wingers who snort in disapproval at what ‘those on the coast’ want.)

Ann has posted on today’s discussion and refers to the people we spoke to as ‘nuts’.

A KUT listener emailed to say we were ‘misrepresenting Texas’ (remember this State comfortably supported McCain.)

Archibald in Oregon writes ‘The same ignorant people that thought blacks had it better under slavery, are the people that are so “afraid” of Obama.’ He calls them ‘ignorant freaks’.

Adam in Memphis tells us to do a show from ‘sane America’. (Though he kind enough to praise the show.)

Julia listening on KALW accuses us of seeking out ‘extremist voices’.

Well we sought today’s guests out in as much as set up on the sidewalk and asked people who passed by what they thought. Were they extreme, or simply average Republicans?

Or maybe, and this is what I’m getting at, do some Democrats see Republicans as extreme whatever their brand of rightwing politics?

Whether you agree with them or not, the people we met today in Georgetown weren’t ‘nuts’. They were regular men and women going about their day-to-day lives.

If we dismiss them as extreme and crazy, aren’t you getting close to dismissing the validity of these people’s contribution to political debate and dare I say their right to vote?

We didn’t select them for their extreme views, and we didn’t fend off anyone who wanted to speak up for Obama.

In last three months I’ve spoken to a lot of Americans who have deeply-held and sincere concerns about Barack Obama, and unless they were hiding it very well they haven’t all seemed ‘insane’.

And I wouldn’t be writing this post, if I hadn’t seen heard the same derision from Democrats in response to so many different editions of WHYS.

Sometimes it feels like when faced with a perspective that isn’t their own, some, and I emphasise some, Democrats can resort to the kind of intolerance they profess to oppose.

Or am I misunderstanding all of this?

81 Responses to “Democrats, I’ve a question for you”

  1. 1 Jack Hughes
    November 18, 2008 at 01:00

    The cause of the intolerance you describe is cognitive dissonance – it’s reached a critical level among lefties.

    This happens when their pollyanna-like opinions and worldview get smashed to pieces every day on the anvil called real life.

    Many people would start to modify their worldviews and drift rightwards. It’s well-documented that most of us leave the 6th form in a lefty mindest and reach the right by our mid-30s.

    But some people, instead of recalibrating their opinions in the light of real life, they just get vicious with anyone who dares to question them.

    Sad. And frightening.

  2. 2 Jack Hughes
    November 18, 2008 at 01:14

    Lefties are emotionally attached to their own views – in a way that righties are not.

    Righties have reached their opinions based on first-hand life experience, seeing world events, and reasoned arguments. These views are pragmatic and adaptable. Different views are possible and different policies may work better.

    Lefties get their views from what makes them feel good inside. This makes differing views bad – and the people with differing views bad.

  3. 3 Jennifer
    November 18, 2008 at 01:34

    Is this a real topic?

  4. 4 Bruce Sickles
    November 18, 2008 at 01:52

    I am not democrat, nor am I republican but I am rather dismissive of republican supporters and it is simply because they have no regard for the facts.

    For example, you had a business person on the show today that was scared of Obama because Obama would raise her taxes. Obama has been very clear on his tax policy and it sounds as if this woman would not have her taxes raised. In fact she will probably get a tax break but she didn’t listen to Obama. Her candidate said Obama would raise taxes then she stopped listening. She seemed to accept that as fact instead of checking the facts.

    It seems to be a common pattern with republican supporters.

  5. November 18, 2008 at 02:00

    Here are some of my experiences with the right in America.

    Twice I have been chased through congested streets for having middle of the road bumper stickers on my car. Bumper stickers that read: “I’m pro-choice and I vote” or “Feminism is the Radical Notion that Women are People too”. Evidently those bumper stickers warranted chasing me through city streets, threatening me, and endangering the lives of those who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The Sunday afternoon after Obama won the election. I found that my car had been broken into and there had literature left on my driver’s seat telling me that my soul needs to be saved, because I am going to hell. I was deceived by the anti-Christ. My crime? Exercising my First Amendment right to free speech. I have an Obama bumper sticker on my car. Never mind that it is a felony; it is called breaking and entering.

    My right to free speech threats the right and three times I was threatened with intimidation for exercising this right.

  6. 6 Ramesh
    November 18, 2008 at 02:16

    You can interview anybody. But I wish you would follow the BBC journalistic principle of challenging the interviewee whether he/she is talking in favour or opposition to the topic on hand. BBC does it with big people. I wish WHYS too respect the participants of the program in the same way.

  7. 7 Joey
    November 18, 2008 at 03:07

    I am a fiscal conservative and I left the Republican Party because I felt that it has been overrun by left wing religious fundamentalists posing as right wingers. These folks believe that they are ‘God’s Chosen’ and actively seek to disenfranchise anyone whose beliefs fall outside their radical Christian dogma. Jack Hughes makes my point perfectly with his fallacious statements. His statements clearly imply that so-called ‘lefties’ can’t be trusted to participate in any political process because they are incapable of being rational. And to say that ‘righties’ are not emotionally attached to their own views? THAT is the very model of cognitive dissonance!

  8. 8 Roberto
    November 18, 2008 at 03:16

    RE “” And one of the real constants of those trips has been the animosity and derision which some Democrats pour in the direction of their political rivals. “”

    ———– Think you need to understand the beeb is seen as a liberal bastion in America.

    As such, primary listeners of the beeb in America are gonna be dems, not reps who are more likely listening to Fox, Limbaugh or Evanglelists. Of course they are gonna complain about reps!

    Your question may be well intentioned, but does Fox ask why viewers complain about dem interviews? Of course not, they are completely unrepentent and shameless in their bias.

    Perhaps you have a sense of fairplay that is often lost in the rough and tumble of politics. I can tell you as a KUT volunteer, I’ve had a few instances during the pledge drive when supporters called into complain about a divisive figure being interviewed in the news. Go figure because I’ll never be so half-brained as to be a rep or dem in this country.

    At the end of the day, sociopathic pols exploit these differences for personal gain usually. Very few universally beloved pols in history.

  9. November 18, 2008 at 03:27

    A poll taken in the last election indicated that 27 percent of Texans believed that Obama was a Muslim. Are these people an “informed and rational electorate”? When Colin Powell endorsed Obama, he stated that even if Obama was a Muslim, it should not be a consideration in the election. Mr. Powell (a respected Republican) indicated that the Republican Party had gone beyond the pale of reason during the campaign. Of course Limbaugh and Will responded that Powell endorsed Obama because of race (i.e., Powell is a racist).

    When President Johnson pushed through the voting rights act, the segregationist politicians bolted the Democratic Party to be welcomed with open arms by the Republican Party. They got committee chairmanships and were often honored by the Republican leadership (e.g., Lott’s glowing comments about the racist Strom Thurman who fathered a child with a teenage African American housekeeper). Until last year, the vast majority of Republican politicians denied that climate change was being caused by human activity (Palin still denies it) even though the evidence is irrefutable. The party of “Values” stooped to bribery and corruption in an attempt to gain more power and prolong its rule. Republican partisans asserted that Kerry did not deserve the Navy medals he was awarded, calling into question the validity of all medals awarded to our soldiers (this from the Party that claims to honor soldiers and veterans).

    I don’t fault people that hold invalid beliefs if they have tried to find the truth and failed. However, many (e.g., those that believe Obama is a Muslim) do not care about facts but believe what they wish to believe. These people do not contributed to solving problems and often interfere with those who do. Especially egregious are those in leadership positions that deny facts (e.g., Sen. Inhofe) or support unconscionable positions (Thurmond and many white Christian ministers that supported segregation). Signed – an engineer that cannot ignore facts.

  10. 10 Jack Hughes
    November 18, 2008 at 03:44

    Great topic, guys.

    Only 6 posts in and 3 of them illustrate the point…..

  11. 11 L. Harris
    November 18, 2008 at 03:53

    Dismissiveness and rudeness towards people who hold different political views are in my experience equally prevalent among Democrats and Republicans. There are still people who can disagree without being disagreeable but that is not all that common today in partisans of either political party. (Political argument can get pretty ugly even between members of the same political party.) If you have met far more dismissive Democrats than dismissive Republicans I would argue you haven’t met a representative sample of Americans. If most of your shows in America were structured like your show from Georgetown than that supports my argument. You went to a very conservative small town. People you met at random there would skew strongly Republican except if you were on the Southwestern University campus. Most of the Democrats that you talked to were not random passers-by, but radio listeners who were riled up by what they were hearing and (in the case of the Texans who called) the picture it was painting of Texas and Texans. If partisans on one side of an argument have to go to more effort to be represented in the argument, as was certainly the case with your broadcast in Georgetown, you should expect that the people who make the extra effort to make sure their viewpoint is represented in the argument are going to be, on average, more passionate about their opinions than the passers-by who happened upon you. More passion doesn’t always translate into less civility but it often does.

  12. November 18, 2008 at 03:56


    I suggest that you listen to some American talk radio. Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, and Michael Savage. Watch O’Reilly of FauxTV.

  13. November 18, 2008 at 04:04

    If you read back through the election campaign blogs it’s pretty evident that neither side of the American political divide has a monopoly on “dismissive, rude” views.

    Jack Hughes’ posts above are a good example of the opposite side of this.

    This is ironic because, in a “world view” the two main American parties are “Centre Right” and “Slightly more right of Centre Right”. The differences are relatively small.

    My theory is that much of this stems from the amount of mud-slinging that goes on during an election campaign…from both sides. Once the results are in, the politicians easily switch to “he was a worth opponent and I off my support mode” but a great many voters actually believe the rubbish they’ve heard and go on with the “hate speak”.

    Sad really.

  14. 14 J in Portland
    November 18, 2008 at 06:29

    People should read as much as they can about facts and try not to respond in such angry tones….I’m guilty of that as well as anybody. I do get frustrated with myself and others when our naivete and intolerance shows.

    I think that one thing most reps and dems are is patriotic. When it comes to our country and what should happen to it, we get very serious…let’s hope that we can find a way to not be so mean about it.

    just an after thought:
    I think that it is funny that even Bill O’Reilly admits that he is an entertainer and not a journalist.

    He was on the Daily show the other day he admitted that he likes Barack Obama…..don’t think you’d hear him say that on his own show. Which is too bad because it might calm some of the fears.

  15. 15 VictorK
    November 18, 2008 at 08:21

    Jack Hughes makes some good points.

    It’s not just Democrats. Leftists and liberals generally interpret politics, and life, in moral and emotional terms. As a result they are unbearably self-righteous, anyone who disagrees with them (Thatcher, Reagan, Bush, Palin, etc) is not just wrong but is evil. To the liberal-left abuse is in fact a legitimate expression of politics since their thinking is shot through with ethical self-regard.

    For the traditional right politics, and life, are pragmatic, incremental, ambiguous, contingent, difficult, subject to limitations and human error, and things that cannot be ordered according to abstract reason. Conservative politics is marked by pessimism and scepticism and a sense that maintaining and improving our cultural and social heritage are tasks in themselves, while leftist politics is all about hope, change and a better tomorrow, and is always ready to demolish our actual heritage in order to construct a paradise spun out of optimistic and rationalist theories. To oppose the left is to oppose the millennium and reveal yourself as nothing less than a political satanist. Hence the abuse.

  16. 16 roebert
    November 18, 2008 at 08:26

    The more dangerous or grievous the results of previous Left and Rightwing coalescence, the fiercer will be the current debate between Left and Right. Given the Bush legacy in at least two key areas in which Dems and Republicans colluded, international human rights and economics, it’s no wonder that Dems and Republicans (including the non-American variety) are at each other’s throats. It’s not a bad thing; it’s what drives necessary change.

    The time to be really concerned is the period during which Left and Right are mostly in agreement with each other. That usually signifies a great collective duping, as with the decision to invade Iraq. The result then is usually something like this: links..rechts..links..rechts..links..rechts..links etc.

    Correct: When left and right coalesce the result usually resembles fascism, at least of the mental kind. In the hangover period, then, when things are falling apart, you have this sharp divide that is being seen now.

  17. 17 Fonjong Terence tah
    November 18, 2008 at 10:21

    The success of any ruler is in the Lord’s hands. When two elephants fight grass will suffer. Skilled workers are admired by the things they make, and leaders wisdom is proved by their words.In my own opinion, the Americans have chosen their leader. Not everyone can be in support of anything. In this case, if Obama rules wisely and educate his people, his government will be orderly. All his officials and all the citizens will be like him. In this life, never judge someone, by his words. Judge his work and his reaction. Some people say things that, they didn’t really mean to say it. It may be they’re influence by the crown and due to fear they say things out of fear. Almost everyone has sinned through this way. Everyone wants something good, but the Lord is the source of honour given to any good leader.

  18. 18 rick
    November 18, 2008 at 11:00

    The cause of the intolerance you describe is cognitive dissonance – it’s reached a critical level among lefties.
    This happens when their pollyanna-like opinions get smashed to pieces every day on the anvil called real life.

    Many people start to modify their worldviews and drift rightward. It’s well-documented that most of us leave the 6th form with leftish mindset and reach the right by our mid-30s after selling out our principles and accumulating wealth which we want to justify and protect.

    But some people, instead of recalibrating their opinions in the light of real life, just get vicious with anyone who sells out to greed and self indulgence.

    Sad. And frightening.

  19. 19 Mary
    November 18, 2008 at 13:13

    And yesterday on the show. One of the Texan women said something like all she heard from Obama was rhetoric and no real substance and plans on what he was going to do. So the interviewer said now Obama has lots of detail on his website on what exactly he plans to do and has stated his positions is that not enough for you. And then she says something like actions speak louder than words we’ll see. Duhhhh
    She wants details and when presented with details then says actions speak louder than words. She wants details and then she wants actions — what does she want? I hear reasoning like this all the time — I spend a lot of time in rural OH and NC — and reasoning like this is rampant. I get frustrated with Republicans when they cannot reason and come to a logical conclusion and state that conclusion. I read liberal and conservative blogs all the time and I believe the hate and anger is much worse on the conservative blogs. I seem to learn things on the liberal blogs — it is rare I learn anything but circular reasoning on the conservative ones. I have become dismissive of Republicans because of my experiences. I am tired of hearing the same old illogical things from them.

  20. November 18, 2008 at 13:29


    Let me tell you what is “rude”. Accusing a nationally nominated candidate, an American citizen, father, Harvard law grad, and a US senator of being a terrorist! Using a candidates name in a way to insight fear. The cartoons, jokes, and comments that have been flying through my e-mail box over the last year take “rudeness” to a new level. From the “Obama Traps” that show a watermelon under a cardboard box trap to the latest design of “Air Force One” with a picture of a monkey, bananas, and watermelon on the side. If you missed it on your e-mail, there was a group sending “Obmam Bucks” around with the same stuff.

    You want to know what is really “rude”. Sending 4,200 soldiers to their unnecessary deaths, and saying “oops”. “Rude” is outing a hard working intelligence agent (a truer American you can not find), corrupting an intelligence network that took years of time and resources to build, strictly to punish their spouse for not supporting your political agenda. “rude” is pursuing tax cuts for the wealthy that have only hastened them to “invest” in labor and factories in China. “Rude” is having a supreme court decide one election, and the CEO if the voting machine company promise and deliver the second election. Rude is expecting the “liberal” movement to once again come through and set the economy, security, and moral compass right after the conservatives brought our country closer to communist Russian style politics.

    I am willing to bet the child getting his butt whooped by his mother right in the store after the chilled upset a giant product display “horsing around”, feels his mother is being “rude” too. But the conservatives shallow and fear driven thinking have let this country in a real bind this time. And you are still spouting the same bogus rhetoric that got us here “We have to kill them first” and “the rich pay most of the taxes already”. So until you realize you need to stop “horsing around” you are going to get treated “rudely”

  21. November 18, 2008 at 13:45

    The good old US election,
    Democrats vs Republicans,
    The rest of the world will get tired of them and may start to show their anger, if BBC and other world broadcasters continue to focus on that.

    US is nothing when it comes to ‘intolerance’ to others’ view points,
    There are bigger and better systems to analyze VOTER PSYCHOLOGY,
    US is a simple binary (either 0 or 1) system.

    If you really want to know the complications of elections, political parties, and voting patterns, then try and run a BBC bus in India during the upcoming partliamentary election in 2009.

    Try this challenge!!
    My best wishes are with you.

  22. 22 Brett
    November 18, 2008 at 13:57

    Dwight wins….

    Furthermore (one additional problem among many), I find it quite rude for people to push anti-gay agendas because they feel their God told them it was ok to descriminate and preach hate and/or intolerance. So if you find me being rude to the religious right, I’m sorry, I have alot of gripes with the way they act and conduct themselves in society.

    It’s nothing personal, when you respect everyone equally, you’ll then have earned my respect. And if neither matters to you, don’t complain about it. I’m fine either way.

    And as always, this doesn’t apply in all instances or to all of those on the other side of the spectrum, just the vast majority I’ve encountered and engaged in discussion with. There are quite a few exceptions to the rule here on the blog, not so many in American society it seems.

  23. 23 roebert
    November 18, 2008 at 14:03

    Oh, Kaidala, how right you are! Take comfort in this; that if India ever elects a George W. Bush, and wantonly invades other sovereign states, and acts to destroy the global economy, we’d be hearing a program broadcast from the streets of….Dharmashala, perhaps?

  24. November 18, 2008 at 14:22

    I am a Libertarian who thinks both the Republicans and Democrats have gotten out of hand. Both have been dismissive of the others opinion and have called Libertarians and Greens “crazy”. I myself have had problems with both parties to the point of spending the night at a library or book store after the 2000 and 2004 elections. When I was a child, I was a right winger but gradually went to Libertarianism since they deal with real life issues. The attitude of the Republicans and Democrats have reinforced my opinion that the Libertarians are the only sane people in America.

  25. November 18, 2008 at 14:26

    You are right as well.
    That is precisely the reason why I wish for a BBC bus in India for next year’s general election.

    Why does India have a Prime Minister like Dr Singh and not a President like G W Bush ?
    (By the way, both are very good friends!!)
    Why doesn’t India declare a war on terror, and in its name invade Pakistan and Bangladesh?
    (India spends a lot on its ministry of defense, and poverty in India will not hold it from taking such a step)

    and there are many more fascinating questions such as these.
    To understand US as an electoral system, India provides a much needed contrast.

  26. 26 Tony
    November 18, 2008 at 14:35

    People have very strongly connected to their party.
    What most don’t see is that the DEmocrats and Rerpublicans are not very different at all. Niether one talks about the “REAL” problems in this country, which would be better left for another show.

  27. 27 Brett
    November 18, 2008 at 14:41

    If we dismiss them as extreme and crazy, aren’t you getting close to dismissing the validity of these people’s contribution to political debate and dare I say their right to vote?

    You can be as extreme as you want, as crazy as you want, that won’t cause you to lose your right to vote. The beauty of democracy 🙂

  28. November 18, 2008 at 14:49

    Kaidala – let’s keep this on the originakl subject of the post. Thanks.

  29. 29 John in Salem
    November 18, 2008 at 14:52

    This country is more polarized today than it has been since the Civil War and it is not by accident. Promoting polarization has become a tool for politicians and an industry for the media. Both take advantage of the American voter’s tendency to listen and absorb the opinions of people like themselves rather than do the work required to make an informed decision and that includes EVERYBODY on both sides.
    It’s easy to blame Bush for fanning the flames but it could just as easily be a Democrat doing it.
    I get sucked into it as well – yesterday I commented that the people being interviewed were just spouting what they had heard from talk radio and accepting as fact. I know better but I get heated up because I don’t like being told my own opinions are nonsense.
    People need to relearn tolerance and a good place to do it is right here on this blog today. When you read a post like that of Jack Hughes – a classic example of polarization – you’re not going to accomplish anything by a direct response. Let it go – the man is entitled to his opinion and you’re clearly not going to change his mind. I know it’s not easy but we have to try.
    One of the principal reasons I voted for the man who will become our 44th president is something he wrote in his book and repeated often in the campaign – that we need to stop wasting time fighting about the things that we can’t agree on and act on the things we do agree on.
    He wasn’t just talking about the gridlock in Washington. He was also talking about us.

  30. November 18, 2008 at 14:52

    Our economy is in the tank, our unemployment is raising, our government is giving away our tax dollars to bail out wall street by the billions, we’re still war, our education system is failing our kids, our health care system ignores our seniors, social security is about to bust, we have over a trillion dollar deficit… and top it all off, we cannot fix all these problem within my lifetime which means we’re leaving these situation for our unborn kids to pay. After 8 years of the Bush Administration, which we still have to insufferable months left of, all is not forgotten or forgiven. We are still suffering the consequences of his Presidency. Furthermore, President Obama will be measured by how quickly he fixes the problems of his predecessor all the while governing under a tight scrutiny of the whole world.

    Ros, I’m very disappointed in how divisive a manner you chose to pose a question while complaining about our rudeness. Instead of asking why democrats and republicans remain to so divided, you pose a question aimed getting a knee jerk reaction instead of getting at the heart of the situation. Well done, sir.

    If if my aggressive tone appears rude, so be it. I find republicans soft tone and smile while taking my rights away far more intrusive and insulting.

  31. November 18, 2008 at 15:01

    Hi Jessica. I don’t think every think we discuss about US politics has to be about both Redpublicans and Democrats. I’m just observing something I’ve seen over the past 3 years, and talking to you all about it. I may well write something about Reps in the future, but I’m not sure having a discussion about Dems is in itself unbalanced.

  32. November 18, 2008 at 15:05


    You will find more moderate and liberal people agree with the libertarian and green party stances, but fear letting the their vote being split and power slipping wholly into the hands of the extremist conservative movement. As proof that happened in 2000, and we are staring down the barrel of the results. So until a voting system or a political structure is created that allows a little less fear of loosing the war just trying to win a battle, then those less advantaged parties will be proportionally heard. Until that happens, members of these parties will get “pecked” from both sides.

  33. 33 Brett
    November 18, 2008 at 15:17

    Exactly dwight!

    If Libertarian or Green had a chance, I would have voted for them in a heartbeat. But instead of voting for the best candidate in my opinion, I ended up to vote for the best realistic candidate in order to keep the absolute worst out of office.

  34. November 18, 2008 at 15:23

    I would like to say I’m sorry. People use Red and Blue as covers to boost agendas. Those agendas are usually in line with some views of their respective wing. But to stereotype people as being unresponsive, rude, or otherwise hold in contempt people who do not share those views is wrong in its own way.
    We are all human, and with that we ALL are arrogant. Now let me explain with examples. People believe that we are alone in the universe. Arrogant. People believe that all species developed on this Earth to be property or dominated by humans. Arrogant.
    So, with this philosophy in place and engrained into our mindsets, why do you think those mindsets would be different in politics? But, in human kind’s defense, we learn, we adapt, we survive, which is what has made us arrogant. People, even those opposed to the thought, the reality that Obama will be in the White House in January will learn to accept with it. They will eventually put those agendas in their pockets and roll with what is popular, and bring them back up at the slightest sense of a failing. Because in the end, we all want to say “I told you so…” no matter what wing. And please accept my personal apology, for I am just as bad as everyone else.
    Democrat’s are just more tired and crabby. We seem to not want to budge on views, but we have budged so much in the past few years that we are refusing to any longer. We are tired of the “scared of everything that may be new or different” mentality which seems to define the Republican party. Change was not just about Obama in the presidency, it’s about better education for all, better quality of living for all, not just those who makes fortunes off of us all.

  35. 35 Hal Hancock
    November 18, 2008 at 15:33

    Like many millions of Texans, I was raised “conservative” but voted for Obama. 44% of Texas voted for Obama.

    And that’s amazing.

    But from the Georgetown interviews, it would seem 5% of Texas voted for Obama.

    Isn’t that odd?

  36. 36 Jennifer
    November 18, 2008 at 15:41

    I am pleased that this post is still here this morning; I thought it might have been a mistake. I think Jack Hughes made some very good points. I hope more democrats post and answer the question instead of passing the buck. Many comments were posted about republicans trying to push an agenda….obviously there is a double standard with regards to who can support their candidate/state their beliefs. Democratic candidates play on fear….of loosing your right to choose abortion, religion, rich people taking everything from you, etc…..so that is what manifests with democrats.

    There is one thing that really caught my eye with reading through the posts.

    I wonder if people who say women are people too really feel the way they say they do? I am appalled even now at the horrible things I heard some people say about Sarah Palin and members of her family. So much ignorance and misinformation was circulated through democratic supporters and even perpetuated by the media. It continues even now. I am personally ashamed that other women reacted to her the way they did to her. I don’t think they treated her like a person at all. That makes me sad. I realize that even in our society; women can do many things but we still get dogged and kept down! It’s worse knowing that it comes from other women too.

  37. 37 Luci Smith
    November 18, 2008 at 15:42

    Rude Democrats?

    When you are from Texas, the people from the East Coast and the West Coast generally look down at you…and the animosity is often mutual.
    In the 70’s, when New York had blackouts, some Texans had bumper stickers on their cars reading “LET ‘UM FREEZE IN THE DARK”.

    Too many people are sleep-deprived, on steroids, ready for road rage, misunderstanding each other- or is it just downright rudeness? The nature of the situation might also explain something.

    There are people who are incapable of discussing politics without getting ‘riled up’. These are often the kind of people who want to be on air and win arguments since nobody who knows them wants to hear them ranting.
    Does it go with the territory when you are asking provocative questions?

    There really are some cross-cultural barriers, too. Certain actions, words and phrases can trigger acceptance and the opposite. I find that words like ‘Democracy’ and ‘Free Speech’ mean completely different things, depending on who you speak to. And of course, your Texas Democrat is generally not a New York Times reader…

  38. 38 Hal Hancock
    November 18, 2008 at 15:45

    My experience (I’m 46), has been that the pervasive prejudice I grew up with (we lived in several major Texas cities) was rather uniform and universal, it seemed. Now, 35 years later, we say we are “not racist”, and I think most people honestly believe that most of us (Americans, Texans, etc) are not.

    But one thing you learn from experience is that people can tell themselves something and try to believe something (for instance, that a 1000 square foot house built in 1950 is worth $400,000), that simply isn’t realistic.

    Being realistic, it would make sense that we are *less* racist than we were.

  39. November 18, 2008 at 15:46

    Hi Hal. I’d say we spoke around 8 or 9 McCain supporters and around 6 or 7 Obama supporters on the sidewalk in Georgetown which isn’t far off a representation of how your state voted. At the end of the show we had far more Democrats than Republicans.

    But let’s be clear we just set up on the sidewalk and spoke to people who came along and I said on air that we weren’t claiming what he heard represented anything other than what it was.

  40. 40 Jennifer
    November 18, 2008 at 15:48


    Obviously, both democrats and republicans feel strongly about their beliefs. You could have asked why democrats and republicans are not uniting under Obama but that would not have gotten to the heart of the situation. It only would have gave room for republicans to take the heat for everything again. Thank you for making this topic.

  41. 41 Count Iblis
    November 18, 2008 at 15:51

    I think there is something wrong about how Americans are educated in school. I’ve the impression that they are very good at rhetoric, defending a particular position even if that is not supported by facts. But they haven’t learned to evaluate different facts in an objective way and then to come at some conclusion independent of previously held beliefs. It’s not that they couldn’t do it, they just don’t see that it is important to do that.

    So, no wonder that Republicans accepted what the McCain campaign was saying about Obama raising taxes. As long as you can argue about an inconvenient fact, that’s good enough, even if that argument is based in flawed information.

  42. 42 Ryan
    November 18, 2008 at 15:56

    YES! My god yes!

    I confess, I am a democrat. An NPR listening, Obama loving, God neutral, Constitution professing liberal. But the one thing that drives me crazy is when other people even more liberal than me think someone who has an opinion other then their own is stupid/ignorant/close minded, without bothering to give them a chance to explain their reasoning. People like my beloved sister, and two wonderful roomates have driven me bonkers when they talk about Bush’s policies for the country, claiming that he hates America or some such nonsense. Or heaven forbid, Sarah Palin. I’ve learned not to mention her name anymore.

    This is one of the reasons I love you WHYS: you ask people questions, and then, sometimes no matter how ridiculous, you LISTEN TO THEIR ANSWER! Everyone thinks if the would only worked like they think it should, all will be well. That viewpoint ignores that the world DOESN’T work like ANYONE thinks it should, and thus we need to be aware of all the ideas we can, even those we don’t agree with. I think that is the starting point for meaningful dialogue.

  43. 43 Dave Singleton, Austin TX.
    November 18, 2008 at 16:01

    I think that this is a great topic for Democrats. I am a conservative and when I discuss a topic I make every effort to understand all sides of the issue, then make an informed decision. Many democrats tend to make personnel attacks against people who do not agree with them.
    A great example of this is when Michael Crichton published his book “State of Fear”. He was attacked, the points he made were never debated.

  44. 44 Steve
    November 18, 2008 at 16:03

    Why people even care about politics is beyond me.

    Did anyone notice how Obama basically said he apologized to Bush about how anti Bush the campaign was, and bush basically said “heck, I understand politics” so basically they admit politics is all about dishonesty. To get what you want, while saying you’re doing it “for my country, becuase I love my country” when you know it’s all about the ambitions. That people insult each other over the selfish desires of some self serving politician is beyond my comprehension.

  45. November 18, 2008 at 16:07

    Hey Count…
    Yes there is a problem with the way we are educated in the schools in America. We are taught that there is only one way to believe.
    We are taught absurd ideas like if we dont talk about pregnancy in teens it wont happen.
    If we dont talk about economic failure, there is none.
    If we dont talk about space exploration that we are alone.
    If we dont understand something, ignore it and it will disappear.
    If you ever get the chance to pick up a text book from a public school as late as last year, you see those ideas.
    But, everything is fundamentally sound in education…

  46. 46 Hal Hancock
    November 18, 2008 at 16:15

    Thanks Ros. I did hear some variety by the end, but still it seemed somewhat skewed. For instance, we heard “Nick in Austin” several times, yet his was only one voice, even if he was some kind of republican student activist. Even a republican student leader for instance is not representative of anyone except themselves, ultimately.

    It would be more interesting to hear only the non-polished, more representative voices of people who aren’t prepared and who aren’t using national talking points from campaign directors, etc.

  47. 47 roebert
    November 18, 2008 at 16:20

    My feeling is that this is probably the first time in a long time that the Dems actually look leftist by comparison with the Reps. There are two main reasons for this: the quasi-fascist rightism of the Bush administration, and the extreme novelty of Obamism (whatever that may turn out to be).

    Before this election I thought there was only one left-winger in the States; Michael Moore.

  48. 48 gary
    November 18, 2008 at 16:25

    “Nope,” as they say in Texas. The left isn’t much different than the right. Reps and dems are about equally intolerant. Neither group holds unique truths (That is to say, both are capable of profoundly delusional thought processes.) Libs trend a little more vocal and spontaneous; cons a bit more acitve and organized. I’m not either one. Short enough for ya’?

  49. November 18, 2008 at 16:34

    Hi Hal. Well we invited Nick on because we wanted to hear from people who aren’t feeling a ny excitement about Barack Obama. I think I went to him twice which didn’t feel excessive. Of course we heard from more Reps as the point of the show was to hear from people who are worried. Over the course of WHYS’ election coverage, you can be sure Obama’s supporters have had plenty of air time. Let us know if you want to come down to one of our shows in Austin. Cheers, Ros

  50. 50 Alby
    November 18, 2008 at 16:37

    @ jack hughes

    actually, it looks like people are going left, not right. The economist did that story about the US a few years ago, and this election, sans war mentality, drove them back. The conservative agenda is the one under attack by ‘real life’ as you say. They are the ones who can’t handle cognitive dissonance any better than anyone else. And, they are lashing out with KKK and other rising white supremacist group activity.

    RE why dems or anybody else react with intolerance. I agree it is about ‘cognitive dissonance’ but it is also about ‘internalized oppression’ and the resentments we carry around inside ourselves at symbols of things that we think put us down in the past.

    The Right wing media coined the term ‘liberal’ as a slur in the US more than 20 yrs ago when Murdoch got his licenses to operate here, and have gone on and on to paint anybody who ever spent time in a University for example, as slur material. Now of course families are suffering because people aren’t adequately educating themselves and valuing that whole process.

    The Conservatives deserve what they get! They are the authors of Intolerance, and short-circuited self-serving logic in US current culture.

  51. 51 Anthony
    November 18, 2008 at 17:02

    My dearest Ros,

    We didn’t use to be like this. It seems that now that Democrates have the Majority, people have jumped on the bandwagon in a “democrat dogmatic” fashion. We’re acting the way many republicans act (which is very dogmatic and “because the Bible says so”, which we hate.). The minority has become the majority and for some stupid reason, I hear people all the time answer “because Bush is an idiot” or “because of stupid right wing nuts holding onto their Bibles” instead of logic or facts. It’s kinda funny, but annoying that democrates are starting to act “mobish”.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    @ Jack & “Lefties are emotionally attached”

    Are you kidding me? What’s more emotionally attached than relating all your political views to the Son of God who died on a cross and suffered so that they may enter heaven. You’ve obviously have never talked to the average republican woman before.

  52. 52 Brett
    November 18, 2008 at 17:24

    @ Anthony:
    Are you kidding me? What’s more emotionally attached than relating all your political views to the Son of God who died on a cross and suffered so that they may enter heaven.

    Best quote of the day, hands down.

  53. 53 Meghan Stabler
    November 18, 2008 at 17:30

    Come on folks. In any society you will find differing opinion. One cannot fault someone for just listening to hype about candidates, concerns raised about their backgrounds or connections to the past. Unless they do due dilliegence and “work” to uncover facts vs. mistruths you are always going to get faulted opinions. I live close to Georgetown. Georgetown is Republican and has been for a VERY long time. It is in Williamson County, which happens to be one of THE most conservative counties in the state. In one drives 30 minutes south to Austin, you end up in a more liberal county – Travis. There one will find a predominance of liberal people, vastly more democratic in their voting. Another word of note is that even though TX went McCain. The State House of TX upped its elected Democratic officials in the November election, gaining more seats. Even in Round Rock, just north of TX, but in Williamson County we elected Diane Moldonado – A democrat !!

    Peace y’all

  54. 54 Maccus Germanis
    November 18, 2008 at 17:36

    @ Ros,
    Well said. I personally think very few people have any idea of the very words they use. Which is fine with them since communication was never their aim. They only want to feel smarter than the other. The DNC uses this human foible, appealing to an instant elitism, to a greater degree than the RNC. Perhaps the old elitist in the RNC just won’t allow it. But my experience has been that such appeal to elitism, simply isn’t as strong among those actually adhereing to either conservative or libertarian principles.

  55. 55 J in Portland
    November 18, 2008 at 17:56


    I think the results you’ve been seeing in the last 3 years has more to do with your timing and possibly the regions you’ve been to.

    The last 16 years of American politics have been very polarizing and viral. I worked with many people who were rabid right and many of my friends are rabid left. I saw so much left bashing and negativity when Clinton was in office because they didn’t like his philandering, foreign policy and couldn’t come up with too much else to be mad at him about. Now I see Bush bashing over the war, the economy, the privatization of our government and general distrust of the way he was elected. These things go both directions.

    I think if you’d started asking these questions and going around the country 12 years ago you would have seen the negativity the other direction.

    It is all in the timing and the frustration of the people. Give it time it will swing back the other direction.

    So stick around it’s going to be a bumpy night.

  56. November 18, 2008 at 18:01

    “Democratic candidates play on fear….of loosing your right to choose abortion, religion, rich people taking everything from you, etc…..so that is what manifests with democrats.”

    Republicans use the politcs of fear to promote their agenda: they cry socialist and Marxist, with flimsy evidence, or with evidence that they have done the very same thing they are accusing the other of.

    Georgia Congressman Paul Broun Wednesday stood by warnings that President-elect Barack Obama might set up a Gestapo-like civilian security force.


    The “Civilian Response Corps,” as it is called, was launched two years ago by the Bush administration, after a bipartisan vote by Congress and the urging of Republicans including former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    And when confronted this:

    Broun’s press secretary did not return e-mails or calls seeking his views on the Bush administration program.

  57. November 18, 2008 at 18:40

    Here are what some of the “nice” and not at all rude republican have been up to:

    –In NYC one of our neighborhood was had graffitti of swastikas and Anti-Obama spray-painted swastikas on their roads, walls and vehicles. Anti-Obama graffiti stuns Staten Island residents

    –In NY, the night Obama was elected President, two teenagers said “let’s get some n—” and beat a black teenager: Staten Island pair shouted racial slurs, beat victim in Election Night rampage

    –Also in NY, the Klux KU Klan has been spreading “Kill Obama” paraphernalia that has the secret service here.

  58. 58 Dictatore Generale Max Maximilian Maximus I
    November 18, 2008 at 18:52

    Re: Alby November 18, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Alby is right!

    First the terms ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ need to be discarded as they create / are likely to create a psychological bias. Check the root of the word sinister. Originally it just meant left-handed. Subsequently it took the turn to mean bad, evil etc. Similarly the word ‘Right’ may create the impression of correct while in actual fact a view of the ‘Right’ may be absolutely and provably WRONG!

    The word ‘Conservative’ is usable as its linguistic meaning and some of the traits of the followers of the ‘Conservative’ label are equivalent.

    About ‘derision & dismissal’:

    As a firm believer in science, the scientific process of hypotheses testing and proof etc. if someone tells me that they believe that the Earth is a few thousand or 6,000 years old then I will be derisive & dismissive! Ditto if they told me in 2008 that the Earth was flat! How can anyone expect me or others to believe in poppycock?

    Who is ‘Right’? And who is ‘Sinister’?

  59. November 18, 2008 at 18:53

    What kind of parents allow, or even more disturbing teach, their children this kind of hate? I am baffled by people who think we should sip tea as they spout hate with a smile and as long as an un-rude tone is used, then no harm done.

    The scariest one for me so far was second and third-grade children chanting “Assassinate Obama, Assassinate Obama” on their school bus.

    @ Steve
    “Why people even care about politics is beyond me.”

    You mean people like you who spend time on a blog discussing politics and politicians?

  60. 60 Nate, Portland, OR
    November 18, 2008 at 19:09

    I want to second Roberto’s early post in which he noted that the BBC is considered leftist in the USA and thus not listened to by many wingnuts on the right.

    (However, there goes Jack Hughes providing evidence that Roberto and I may be wrong about the BBC’s American listenership.)

    There’s an awful lot of perfectly valid, empirically based reasons to ba a lefty in the USA. For example I start with a premise that a meritocracy is the ideal way distributing wealth. I also recognize that it is desirable to have a system which generates more wealth. On both these counts capitalism has proven the most effective – on this righties and lefties (US version) generally agree. Lefties have come to this realization relatively recently, but righties seem bound and determined not to recognize that their ideological opponents have made considerable strides towards the rightie’s views.

    Where I differ from righties is in my assessment of capitalism’s failures to produce a meritocracy, my assessment of capitalism’s failures to produce long-term, sustainable wealth, and my assessment of capitalism’s ability to provide goods and services which, for the good of all, should be provided to all (e.g. firefighters, police, education). These points, respectively, lead me to support progressive taxation and estate taxes; environmental and other regulations; and government services and government sponsored research.

  61. November 18, 2008 at 20:09

    Lee Atwater, Karl Rove – they were the architects of hate in the Republican side of US Politics.

    They believed (Atwater is dead) and still do believe that lying is a fair concept in getting a Republican voted into office. Atwater got Reagan into office with a great amount of help from others – the real division stated there.

  62. November 18, 2008 at 20:20

    Hi Ros,
    “I don’t think every think we discuss about US politics has to be about both Republicans and Democrats.”

    I agree and would like to discuss politics on their merits and not just which party is affiliated with it. However, when you say you pose a question to democrats and say we “can resort to the kind of intolerance they profess to oppose,” even if you emphasis the word “some” before it, is unbalance and bias. I am a person who is blunt and my direct approach can offend some and if you think me rude for it, I accept it. However, if you suggest from your–personal– observation that we are intolerant for being unapologetically verbally aggressive, then it invites me to question your divisive question.

    After Bush won, democrats did not stray paint private or public property with offensive symbols nor did we damage churches or try to kill OBGYN doctors who do not preform abortions or beat people for being a different race/white/republican/Christian or teach our kids to sing any songs that called for Bush’s to be assassinated. My some of our words may be rude to you, our actions are far from intolerant. Can you can the same about “some” republicans?

  63. 63 Jonathan
    November 18, 2008 at 20:20

    Ros, your admirable instinct toward egalitarianism does not serve you well when it impels you to treat all opinions as equally valid. They aren’t. Informed opinions are based on facts. They are more legitimate than opinions based on no information, or wrong information.

    For instance, today’s crowd in Texas discussing capital punishment. One person said it’s not a deterrant to crime. One person said it is. But it’s been studied. Every study finds it is not. So it’s not properly a matter of opinion at all. It’s a matter of fact.

    Same thing about Obama and being a Muslim–he’s not. Or taxes–he’s stated his position on whose taxes would go up or down. Or a dozen other things that the right wing fear machine deliberately lies about. A lie isn’t legitimate, and an opinion based on a lie isn’t legitimate. Is that dismissive? Sure. We should dismiss lies.

    Having your say is different from getting it right. Or can we look forward to the World Have Your Say Holocaust denial episode?

  64. 64 Jennifer
    November 18, 2008 at 20:33

    Maybe democrats and republicans should switch places! If we are to assume that the “right” implies the right (only) acceptable belief system we are going backwards. All I see is validation for being aggressive and shifting blame in these posts.

    A few links to some examples of democrats sitting around drinking tea…..

    http://michellemalkin.com/2008/10/12/crush-the-obamedia-narrative-look-whos-gripped-by-insane-rage/ (there is some strong language and some of the photos/videos are…….)

    http://michellemalkin.com/2008/02/20/letter-from-an-obama-supporter/ (Has bad language)

    Oh please!!!

  65. 65 Dictatore Generale Max Maximilian Maximus I
    November 18, 2008 at 20:35

    Since we’re supposed to keep comments brief:

    What is the difference between a cowboy and a donkey?

    Elementary, my dear Watson!

    It is yee-haw versus hee-haw! They’re one and the same thing and they’re ‘Right’!

    Scouts honour. To the best of my knowledge & belief this is my creation!

    Looking forward to be flamed & lassoed!

  66. 66 Jonathan
    November 18, 2008 at 20:45

    Ros, just to sharpen my point, of course “some beliefs warrant derision and dismissal.” Can you really think they don’t?

    Racism, anti-semitism–these things are out of bounds, not–I hope–just because of a contemporary consensus, but because they are wrong.

    If your objection is just to appearance and tone, it’s too superficial to merit serious discussion. (How’s THAT for being arrogant and dismissive!) But seriously, I suggest that the group that’s been oppressed and out of power may seem shrill compared to the smooth purring of the oppressors. It doesn’t do much for my mood to reflect upon my country’s reputation in tatters because of arbitrary wars, kidnapping and torture. I’m not cheered by the collapse of my country’s economy, or rule of law, or the rest of the sad trail of dstruction in the wake of eight years of government by a cheerful idiot.

  67. November 18, 2008 at 20:56

    We should be able to respect each other and the right of each to express and opinion. I can separate my respect for an individual from my feelings about his opinion. However, I feel that is okay and even necessary to voice my lack of respect for leaders that demagogue, lie and act hypocritically.

    If an individual causes irreparable damage to another (e.g., crippling injury, death, sexual abuse of a child, spreading lies) can that individual ever really make up for the damage he caused? Leadership carries with it a great burden. The damage caused by a leader is always much greater than any individual can cause and even more irreparable. Many southern religious leaders opposed the civil rights movement and fanned the flames of hate and discrimination that continue to this day. Sen. Inhofe and Limbaugh derided the evidence about climate change, citing questionable research done by the same people that questioned the link between cancer and smoking. They are convince the uninformed that there is no need for action, allowing the problem to grow.

    A leader can also cause damage by being silent. When supporters of President George W. Bush attacked the war record of John McCain and John Kerry, Mr. Bush did nothing to stop or contradict the attacks. Mr. Bush campaigned on fighting global warming and then took action to impede progress on the problem (even suppressing and distorting NOAA research reports). When the right wing media attacked the character of Colin Powell (asserting that he lied about his reason for supporting Obama), I heard no one in the Republican leadership denounce those attacks.

    Do leaders like these deserve respect?

    In the recent election, both sides were prone to exaggerate. For those who really want to improve the political climate, read the material on the web sites http://www.factcheck.org and http://politifact.com. Then contact the leaders you support and tell them that lies and exaggeration destroy their credibility and you will not support such actions. You can also get an idea from these web sites as to the relative integrity of the two sides.

  68. November 18, 2008 at 20:58

    Liberal Democrats are against individual freedom, against individual responsibilty, against common sense. With their phony compassion, phony scientists that talk about global warming which does not exist and if it is there, it is just a natural cycle not caused by humans like these phony liberal scientists say. These liberals will label you as a racist if you criticize the Messiah Obama even though he is the most unqualified person to be a president. He got up there with the help of the liberal media and his liberal friends bought the election. You are called bigot because you oppose the gay marriage! The people who want to be homosexuals, it is their problem since this is a problem but do not ask for rights because you have none other than your citizen rights. Marriage is only between one woman and one man, period.

  69. 69 Josh
    November 18, 2008 at 21:39

    The scary truth is Republicans are more open minded than “self proclaimed free thinking” liberals. Republicans know other people hold different world views than themselves, and while they may not agree, they respect the fact that people have different opinions. People on the far left tend feel so elite that I they start to believe that anyone that doesn’t hold their own worldview isn’t thinking straight.

    The best quote that summarizes this fact I’ve seen is this.

    Republicans think Democrats are wrong.
    Democrats think Republicans are stupid.

  70. 70 Roberto
    November 18, 2008 at 22:20

    RE “” They believed (Atwater is dead) and still do believe that lying is a fair concept in getting a Republican voted into office. “”

    ——— That you believe this is true for only rep is nonsense.

    All politicians lie, businessmen lie, and did you know it’s not against the law for a lawyer to lie in court if he ain’t under oath?

    Honest pols are the exception, not the rule.

  71. 71 Allison
    November 18, 2008 at 22:29

    Being from born in Austin and watching the political switch take place in Texas, I know one thing: NO party, be it a big party like the DNC or RNC (GOP), or small like the green or liberterian is innocent of hyperbolic, insulting language found in political discourse. I was socialized as a democrat and continue to be a strong democrat. Everyone is guilty of this form of language, myself included.

    Why did it seem so bad to you? Probably because we as a nation just came off one of the longest, if not the longest campaigns ever. Furthermore, we were exposed to a media that has to sell advertising and thus draw viewers to sustain. Thus, our coverage is more negative (see Iyengar et al) and more of a horse race. We do not have a narrative that is objective. I’m not going to blame it all media, after all, we are all adults capable of forming our own opinions but are probably too busy working (or lazy) to take the time to inform ourselves.

    Also, there are topics that have no possiblity of compromise. These are issues that based on religious views.

    That said, Ros, you set up a situation and found a situation in the last three years that was charged and ripe for the outcome you found. After 9/11/01, this country became almost scary nationalistic at times. Dissent almost became unAmerican. I have the utmost faith in Americans, all Americans, from the left, right, and center. We are all trying to form a “more perfect Union”, just from our point of view.

  72. 72 Pangolin-California
    November 18, 2008 at 23:16

    First the Republican Party openly tolerates and encourages the participation of racists and racist memes as long as they are couched in paper-thin code phrases. Secondly, as noted above there is the repeated denial of fact inherent in Republican politics. Finally there is the absolute lack of compassion exhibited by Republican politics.

    The Republican party practices the politics of a three year old. Their central phrase is “MINE” and damn the rest. They are quite accepting of homeless people and people without medical care as long as they don’t have to pay for care. They are utterly unconcerned by the wake of human tragedy left by GOP policies.

    Refusal to accept known and provable facts is generally defined as stupidity. Obama is a muslim. There is no human-caused global warming. Denial of health care in an infectious disease environment. These are the statements and policies of stupid people.

  73. 73 J in Portland
    November 19, 2008 at 00:23

    Nicely said, Allison!

  74. 74 Tom D Ford
    November 19, 2008 at 00:55


    For decades non-Conservative Americans have endured outrageous hate speech, lies, libels, and slanders from Conservative Americans and I did not understand why they spewed such vile until just a few years ago when I heard a radio interviewee say that while Democrats think of politics as a game, Conservative Republicans consider politics to be all out war. That opened my eyes for sure. When I realized that Conservatives considered me to be their enemy, all of the “talk” radio and Fox TV slid into clear focus.

    For years I had thought that you could discuss things in a civil manner, presenting your points and arguing for them using logic and rationality, but I began to realize that Conservatives don’t come to discuss and argue points of difference, they come to intimidate and overwhelm with propaganda. You could use and cite sources and prove that they were lying but they just keep coming back and repeating the lies instead of admitting that they were wrong. They use the method that Goebbels described at Nuremberg of repeating a lie until it becomes accepted.

    Back in the mid 1950s when I was about seven or eight years old, I watched a film about the liberation of the Nazi Concentration-Death Camps, and over the years I have come to think that in order to prevent that from ever happening again, good people need to immediately and constantly call a lie a lie and call the lie teller a liar, so that the lie never has the chance to be accepted. I don’t know any better way to prevent evil from taking hold than that.

    Now, I realize that WHYS rules don’t like confrontation like that and I try to go by your guidelines but every once in a while I slip up and I call a lie a lie after it has just been repeated too many times.

    Well, that is my reasoning, such as it is. We non-Conservatives are just responding to some thirty years or more of attacks from Conservatives and that is what you are seeing on WHYS, that is the larger context or as they say, “the big picture”.

  75. 75 Ann in Dallas
    November 19, 2008 at 10:12

    In response to my post refering to the people you spoke with on Monday as nuts, I guess I should apologize. I normally try to avoid name calling but listening to the people you spoke with on the show jarred a nerve with me. I spent months campaigning for Obama and I can’t tell you how many people hung up on me when I stated who I was campaigning for on the phone and how many people would tell me to my face that they knew he was a Muslim (because apparently that’s a bad thing around here) and how he was a secret racist and yes, I got quite a few “he’s the antichrist” responses as well. I even had whole branches of my family voting against him (though not voting for McCain, their vote was in protest of Obama) because he was a Muslim (straining family relationships). I thought that once the election was over I was done listening to people cry over how he’s socialist and moan over our national security, or whatever else excuse they had, or at least I would get a break from negativity. Eventually I know I’ll toughen up and be ready to listen to the criticism but I guess I wasn’t ready for it on Monday from my fellow Texans.
    Basically, dismissing other people’s viewpoints is never ok to do so, my previous post was atypical of my normal behaviour and I was wrong to do so. I have no problem listening to conservative republicans and hope they will give me the same respect. Oh and for the record, I was a moderate in 2000 with strong conservative tendencies (yes, to my shame, I voted for Bush in 2000…is it ok to call myself an idiot?).

  76. 76 Jonathan
    November 19, 2008 at 15:16


    I don’t get your point. Let’s take your example: Barack Obama has said that he’s a Christian. He has described his tax plans in great detail. He has explained his past association with William Ayers. He has explained his views on race in a speech in Philadelphia which was eloquent and profound. His positions are on his website.

    Some people simply ignore all of these facts, and ignore everything he says. They prefer to be “afraid” of him. They insist that he is a Muslim, a socialist, a terrorist, a racist, and he intends to raise their taxes. Because they ignore the truth, they are by definition “ignorant,” no matter how “sincere.” In dismissing the facts, they are “dismissive.”

    When clear-headed people point out that simple truth, or suggest that the truth is preferable to scary stories, you accuse them of bad manners. Why?

  77. 77 Bryan
    November 19, 2008 at 22:45

    Apparently there was something unacceptable about my comment posted around midday today, or maybe it was deleted in error, so I’ll try to post it again:


    This is a very timely post. When I came onto this site a few months ago I was hounded in a way that made it clear that I was an outsider and the left was closing ranks against me. I also noted that before anyone here or anywhere else knew what Sarah Palin was all about, they were already bashing her. It was enough to now that she was a pro-life Republican and a Christian.

    Likewise, the first BBC Newsnight programme dealing with Palin bashed her in a way that was reminiscent of the broadcasting version of a tabloid, while promoting Obama in the same clip. It was a disgrace. And of course, the fact that BBC political journalists are predominantly Democrat supporters is not even debatable. The overall coverage made that crystal clear.

    I recall the video clip I posted on this blog of the reception a group or orderly and peaceful McCain supporters with non-provocative placards received in “tolerant” New York City.

    This is a very refreshing post from a BBC journalist. Knee-jerk Democrats and their supporters on this blog should take note of the fact that Ros works for the left wing BBC and they should therefore at least take his perception of the intolerance of the Democrats seriously. And the armchair warriors should note that Ros was in the field gathering his impressions.

  78. 78 Frances
    November 20, 2008 at 00:40

    Ros, I think you have a point. I am a democrat who lives in Berkeley, and soemtimes the left can be so dismissive of anyone who doesn’t hold the same views. There is a paranoia among the left. For instance, during the primaries I was supporting Hillary Clinton. The reaction sometimes was as if I was supporting a right-wing dictator. But the right can be just as paranoid. The US is so big that Americans can be remain very insular and unaware of anything outside their own surroundimgs, so they are suspicious of anyone who thinks differently.

  79. 79 Rachel in TX
    November 20, 2008 at 14:46

    The past three years have been an interesting time. Democrats have always been the party of timid reason (There have been actual studies proving the differences in cognitive processes between different parties, finding that democrats seem to be educated and able to interpret nuance whereas Republicans are anti-intellectual and unable to interpret nuance). If you need proof check out Harry Reid.

    However, there comes a point when timid, reasoning people become so outraged that they need to let loose. What you are seeing is the product of extreme outrage. I think that if you toured America in 2001 you wouldn’t have seen this same level of backlash.

    The style in which Republicans and Democrats are rude is different, as well. I have to ask, being not from this country, if perhaps you might be missing the subtle cues about what is rude in American culture. Republicans are often rude with a smile or some folksy charm–but everyone still knows it’s rude. As a trivial example, Republicans often call the Democratic Party the Democrat Party. It can be written off as mere ignorance, but it’s a concerted effort on the part of Republican leadership to be disrespectful. Google it.

    Furthermore, I have never heard a Democrat threaten the life of a Republican, whereas I have heard the opposite quite frequently this election cycle.

  80. 80 Jack in Austin
    November 20, 2008 at 20:36

    i’m seeing this reaction on both sides, the left and right. since we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded friends, we lose the ability to reason through an argument.

    it doesn’t matter if we use logic or feeling, the ability to voice the opinion without throwing around a string of loaded words. “Damn bleeding heart liberal,” “ultra conservative wingnut,” “preachy Jesus freak,” or “lefty, self-righteous a**hole” –these all tend to make the speaker sound, well, quite immature.

    i’m a far-lefty, by the way.

  81. 81 Luci Smith
    November 22, 2008 at 15:53

    @ Pangolin-California

    I liked your analysis of the Republican Party’s methods.

    Let me just skew the whole issue a bit.

    The Prime Minister of Denmark, where I live and vote, Anders Fogh Rasmussen is also the leader of Venstre, the so-called “liberal” party in Denmark and the name means “left” in English.
    But the Venstre Party’s policies are basically the same as the Republicans – in the areas that you describe. AFR said that it would be better if McCain was elected, he has made certain that during his 7 years as PM that rhetoric is everything and has, to my way of thinking shaped the minds and mindsets of a lot of people through what in Orwell’s 1984 would be called “Newspeak”.
    His agenda has been to promote privatization and tear down the public institutions of the Welfare State that Danes have paid taxes to for over 100 years.

    And AFR governs with the help of a coalition party that has a racist agenda and constantly attempts to point out that the cause of most ills in Denmark is Foreigners. They have dismissed the concepts of Politeness and Political Correctness and the State pays for their bodyguards.
    I find some of these people to be blatant liars, who do everything to get elected and to stay in office. Denmark is a small country and almost nobody else in the world can understand the language. I suspect that a lot of what my country’s leaders say in English is misunderstood, too, since they speak so incorrectly and unintelligibly. AFR has just decided to give a very large grant to Bjørn Lomborg, who is one of his cronies and who believes that Global Warming is a Fairy Tale.

    As you so aptly write, “Refusal to accept known and provable facts is generally defined as stupidity”. I moved here from Austin to get away from Reaganomics,
    but for the last 7 years have been suffering along with the 49% of our country who beg to disagree and who do not think that God is the answer but hope that some things may look brighter with the election of Obama.

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