Are you turned off by the partisan rhetoric from political conventions? A growing number of people tune-out these events or change the channel. I admit that I was more disgusted by the tone and content of the conventions than previous years. I realize that these events are designed to elevate one party and demonize the other. I expect to hear high-pitched exaggerations and outright hypocrisy. I anticipate the hysteria from groupies on each side. I also know that in an age of Twitter and Facebook, the shelf-life impact of these conventions is much smaller and perhaps less consequential.
While I am not sure if the partisan spirit is getting worse or my toleration for it has decreased, I am certain that most of the thirty-five and under crowd is either thoroughly disgusted or completely ambivalent. Perhaps I am more sympathetic to this response because my four adult children feel it and I work with this generation in our ministry. My interaction with young people repeatedly verifies how turned off they’ve become to politics.
We shouldn’t be surprised when they react this way to the extreme intolerance echoed from political parties. This group has been indoctrinated more than any other with mandated forms of tolerance. How could their leaders tell them to be tolerant of other viewpoints and then ask them to sit through grand shows of intolerance?
Berating of one’s opponent with cynical and biased tones of arrogance common to these conventions is forbidden for students in government controlled educational settings. They would be reprimanded if they displayed the kinds of intolerant attitudes or vitriolic speech heard at conventions.
This intolerant tone is perceived as more hypocritical from the liberal side because they boast most loudly of tolerance and acceptance of all. If you doubt that it comes from this side, listen to evening commentators on networks like MSNBC. You’ll hear a constant dripping of sarcasm and cynicism with high doses of arrogance. When I listen to them, I wonder if they actually think that young people are cheering for them? It’s hard for any reasonable person to stomach this kind of rhetoric.
This tone dominates those on the extreme left, but let’s not paint one party or news outlet as innocent. Although nowhere near the level of MSNBC, one can also find this tone on FOXNEWS. It was clearly and repeatedly heard in both conventions.
Perhaps the younger people are being too thin-skinned. Yet you cannot indoctrinate them on a version of tolerance that requires the endorsement of all views and then condemn them for turning away from what they have been taught to perceive as intolerance. Admittedly the form of tolerance they’ve been taught is not true tolerance.
The true virtue of tolerance can only shine where strong disagreements exist and differing parties treat each other with respect. Tolerance does not require one to pretend that there are no differences but to engage with others respectfully despite differences.
The younger generation is also the one that “Googles” everything. They have a strong default against anything that sounds like distortion of fact. They can easily research the notion that the Republican Party is opposed to big government or the rhetoric about the Democratic Party being for the poor and needy and against the rich and powerful. It’s easy, for example, to discover that charitable giving is dismally low among Democratic leaders who boast most loudly of concern for the poor.
When told that the President and his wife identify with the poor and needy, it’s easy to discover that President Obama runs with the rich and famous as much as he can and that his wife lavishes herself with a lifestyle of wealth on taxpayer money. It was equally obvious that many Republicans misused the “You didn’t build that” statement made by the President. The misrepresentations, deception and endless empty promises so typical of political rhetoric is a huge turn-off to the younger generation.
What are the long-term effects of this growing response of disgust and disillusionment? Is it time to rethink our approach to politics? We spend an immoral amount of money on political campaigns and this is another huge turn-off. What does it say about the character of our nation when it’s impossible to win an election with a respectful tone and a commitment to honesty? Should we expect more from our leaders than the intentional distortion of facts and outright deception? Is it possible to have vigorous and robust debate without sacrificing respectful treatment of our opponents?
Without widely shared virtues like honor and respect, narrowly defined political self-interests will continue to divide and threaten our nation. The American experiment has taught us that a free society is the best context for human flourishing. Yet freedom cannot flourish without deeper commitments to the virtues that promote it. While there are no easy answers, it’s clearly time to call our leaders to a higher standard. We can at least make our voices heard by exercising our privilege to vote.
Without the hard work of learning the history of our country, the founding, the Revolution, and the intellectual underpinnings (exemplified in the “Federalist Papers”) of our constitutionally federated republic, all this silly talk about tolerance is nothing but faddish, pop PC drivel.
I believe that government schools have a concerted (albeit largely subconscious) motivation to hide the truth of this history and not teach it, lest that understanding undermine the entire enterprise.
So, young people being turned off is, I believe, partially a reflection of a widespread and woeful ignorance of how our party system works.
Here’s a good article by Os Guiness from Ravi Zacharias’ “Just Thinking”………
Sorry, my reply sounded more harsh than intended. I do believe that much of the current obsession with so-called tolerance is filled with contradiction and logical fallacy. My statements applied to these unthinking faddish aspects.
There is still some validity to the concept, of course, when dealing with certain meanings of the idea.
D.A. Carson has addressed much of this well, I think, in his book, “The Intolerance of Tolerance” (I’m not sure I got that title correct).
Jesus christ bless this ministry,and his team,Jesus Christ we are all your children.Lord Jesus Christ protect you.may God bless you all and Peace be with you all.