Bigotry is the state of mind of a bigot, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”. Bigotry may be based on real or perceived characteristics, including age, disability, dissension from popular opinions, economic status, ethnicity, gender identity,language, nationality, political alignment, race, region, religious or spiritual belief, sex, or sexual orientation. Bigotry is sometimes developed into an ideology or world view.
So as I sit here, skimming Twitter and the news (thereby avoiding the task of writing a research paper), I sigh and sigh. As the presidential election creeps closer, it seems the attacks grow more vicious, the rhetoric more misleading and childish, the desperation for campaign contributions more feverish. The heated vitriol among the most loyal supporters has always been there, but now it spreads through everything like a virus, infecting even those who had been more moderate and tolerant in their opinions and commentary.
I know this seems like a pretty harsh observation, but understand that I am not singling out one campaign or another, one group or another. I am pointing to both. Those of us who are in between become swept up and overwashed by the tide of vicious attacks and false accusations. Some who do not wish to receive figurative black eyes from the fervent remain silent. Some dare to express their thoughts but do so in fear of being misjudged or misunderstood. Some just do not care, seeing the entire process as futile as in their eyes nothing will ever change. Those who attempt to educate themselves about issues become exhausted after sifting through a barrage of bias. One side calls Romney a liar saying that he flip-flops, will present whatever works to get elected, and only cares about the rich. The other side says that Obama is the liar, distorting and cherry-picking facts that only support him, placing the blame on others, and keeping his real agenda hidden. If one votes for Romney, he or she must be a racist, an elitist who doesn’t care about those less-fortunate. If one votes for Obama, he or she must be a radical feminist/environmentalist, poor and uneducated, or a socialist (socialism is NOT communism by the way). No matter how a person feels, no matter which issues are important to that person, no matter what beliefs are best supported, the other campaign and its lackeys seek to break that person down (or lift them up) to earn another vote for their candidate.
So here is how it is for me…An American citizen with very real concerns and beliefs that are shaped by my personal experiences…a person who has worked hard to educate myself about my opinions and the issues that are important to me so that I can reach an informed decision: I have spent many hours researching and reading articles, blogs, documents, and information. Some of it is biased, although I try to find both sides. Some of it is boring, tedious, “want to shoot myself in the head” rhetoric in the form of laws, bills, and statistics. The point is that I have not allowed ANYONE else to do my thinking for me. I have questioned everything, and I have made up my mind. I know who I will be voting for come the time. I know why I am making the choice- why I believe and feel what I do. My choice is popular with some and unpopular with others (about 50% either way according to polls).
Now, even though I have made up my mind and am not afraid to express myself, I do not wish to persuade anyone else to feel the same way. I will argue proudly for my own beliefs, but I will not dismiss someone else’s simply because they are different. I do not view someone else’s opinion as inferior to my own. I might wonder to myself what motivates them, but that is because I recognize and understand that we are all very different individuals with different situations, experiences, and needs. I want to understand not change them. We are all at different places in life. Even if I might disagree with another person’s choices, I do not question the integrity or ability of others to make their own decisions. I fully embrace the right that each individual has to choose to vote or not. I embrace the right that each has to choose a candidate. AND I am sick and tired of listening to those who put down, attack, and vilify others because they think differently. I am sick of hearing about “libtards” and “republictards”, “Socialists” and “Facists.” I am sick of the finger-pointing, name-calling, and nastiness that oozes from political commentators, media outlets, and Americans. This is not high school. We are supposed to be rational, educated adults. So the likes of Rush Limbaugh resorting to calling Sandra Fluke a slut and Lawrence O’donnell challenging Mitt Romney’s son to a fistfight are infantile and unacceptable. Sadly enough, I could go on and on about this, but my entire point is that the behavior turns my stomach and serves nobody well.
In turn, I wish to be respected for my choices. I would like to be able to say something in a conversation without someone calling me “Darwinian” or “provincial.” I would like to be able to read and listen to civil, rational conversations. I would like to be able to read something that isn’t so heavily biased it makes my head spin. I would like people to quit implying that because I feel the way I do or believe what I believe there is something wrong with me.
When the election is over and done, when a president is sworn into office, life will continue regardless of who it is. My life will go on as it always has, and I will adapt accordingly as I always have. Some things will be harder; some things will be easier. I will do whatever I must to protect myself, my family, and my beliefs with integrity because in the end that is what really matters to me. Whether we have to change our lives completely will depend on how the tide flows. As always, I will find a way; my family will find a way; we will survive a President Obama or a President Romney.
Although they have quite a bit of catching up to do, the Romney campaign seems to be making a valiant effort in the email deluge. Here are the last 6 emails I received over 8 days.
August 12 #8
I am deeply honored to join Mitt Romney as his running mate — and I am thrilled to be a part of America’s Comeback Team.
I’m looking forward to what lies ahead — especially meeting supporters like you. One lucky supporter still can win the chance to meet Mitt and me before things really heat up with the Convention.
Enter now until Wednesday: http://www.mittromney.com/donate
America is on the wrong track — but Mitt and I will take the right steps, in the right time, to get us back on the right track! And together, we will unite America and get this done.
Thanks for your support and your excitement — we are looking forward to meeting and celebrating with supporters like you soon.
August 12 #9
Throughout his life, Mitt Romney has made great decisions, and choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate is a truly inspired choice. I got to know Paul during my Senate campaign when he endorsed me early on when I was still considered a long shot.
Paul Ryan is a courageous reformer who understands our nation’s challenges, has proposed bold policy solutions to solve them, and has shown the courage to stand up to President Obama and other Washington politicians trying to tear him down.
The Romney-Ryan ticket is going to win in November because it offers the American people visionary leadership to recapture the free enterprise spirit that has empowered countless Americans to build businesses from scratch and live the American dream.
I’m excited about the visionary change a Romney-Ryan team will bring to Washington, and I look forward to campaigning with them this fall.
Donate today and send a message to President Obama and his liberal allies that we can’t afford four more years of reckless, runaway spending.
August 16 #10
It’s hard to believe the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL is just 11 days away. The convention is our moment to stand united as a party, and to throw our collective support behind the Romney-Ryan ticket and the entire Republican team.
As we ramp up for Tampa, we hope you’ll ramp up your support, too — because we’re counting on you to help Mitt, Paul, and the entire Republican team win in November.
Show your support by donating $15 or more today.
Ours has been a campaign to unite every American who knows in his or her heart that we can do better. And with your help we’ll take back America.
Katie Packer Gage
Deputy Campaign Manager
Romney for President, Inc.
August 16 #11
Four years ago, President Obama ran on a campaign of “hope and change,” promising to be a different kind of politician. Today, however, we bear witness to a campaign based on frustration and division.
With no record to run on, President Obama and the liberal Democrats continue to practice Chicago-style politics, making false accusations that disgrace the Office of the President. President Obama and his allies have gone from implying that Governor Romney is a felon and murderer to saying that Republicans want to put Americans in chains.
Watch this recent video to see how the Obama campaign and the liberal Democrats have gone too far.
It’s time for President Obama and the liberal Democrats to take responsibility for the tone and rhetoric coming from their reelection machine.
Please donate $10 or more today to bring civility back to Washington.
Chairman, Republican National Committee
August 17 #12
It’s been a long road to the convention, and supporters like you have gotten me this far.
That’s why I’m excited to invite you to join us in Tampa.
Donate $3 today to be automatically entered for your chance to go behind the scenes in Tampa and to be there when I accept the nomination.
It’s time to put an end to President Obama’s campaign of frustration and division by coming together as a unified party. The convention is sure to be a pivotal moment and an unforgettable experience for anyone who shares my belief that it’s time to get America back on track.
I hope you’ll be there to celebrate with us.
August 18 #13
No one from the government was there when we were sweating it, when we were building this business. I’m proud of the business I’ve built, so I appreciate Mitt Romney for standing up for people like me. He knows the kind of hard work and dedication it takes to make a business successful.
We need a president who understands business. Who understands what it means to make payroll. Who understands what it means to grow an enterprise and to be successful. I think Mitt is the candidate for the job.
Show pride in your accomplishments — and help Mitt and the Republican team win in November.
Get your built by us shirt here!
Shop the entire Built By Us Collection now!
Co-owner, Village Corner Deli
August 19 #14
The convention is just days away — and we are excited to watch Mitt accept the nomination in front of the entire party.
Would you like to be there with us for that historic moment — when the confetti and balloons drop?
Two lucky supporters will win the chance to join us at the Republican National Convention in Tampa and actually be there when Mitt becomes our party’s nominee. And we’ll even take care of the airfare and hotel.
Donate $3 today to be automatically entered for your chance to join the Republican team in Tampa.
Don’t miss out on your chance at a front row seat to history!
Chief of Staff
Republican National Committee
I am tired of people who wish to argue or debate but cannot make the effort to support their viewpoints with unbiased evidence. They simply regurgitate information that they hear on radio and television or read on the internet and in newspapers without looking for bias and bothering to educate themselves or understand the issues further. The irony is that as we grow up, we make every effort to provide strong, well-substantiated arguments to our parents and others as to why we should be able to do certain things like drive the car. We struggle against their viewpoints so that we may develop our own. But as adults, many of us are simply willing to adopt someone else’s argument as our own rather than expend the energy- either because we don’t have it or we choose not to use it.
If you want to present a valid argument, you should be able to do two things:
1. Prove that you understand the issue AND
2. Be able to use or apply supporting points/ evidence in ways that go beyond what you read or hear.
Politicians and campaigns are very good at suppressing and manipulating information to serve their purposes. That is where the individual must be responsible for sorting through evidence to come to a fair and objective conclusion. Unfortunately, it is time-consuming and tiring to do so. Sometimes it is downright confusing. Nevertheless, the individual who does not truly understand the issues (beyond reciting information from the media) easily falls victim to logical fallacies and misdirection- a tactic widely used in campaigns. To complicate matters, individuals have a tendency to identify with a person or “team” (ie. democrat, republican), and they then take cues on their positions from someone influential in that team. Some become extremely loyal and refuse to entertain anything outside of that circle. This leads the individual to accept arguments and evidence consistent with the position without being critical and to reject opposing arguments and evidence without understanding them. Even the wisest individuals are susceptible to this.
The key is to THINK for yourself. Resist the urge to side with the “team.” Be aware of tricks. Understand and consider the evidence. Come to your own conclusion. In order to do all of this, educate yourself about the claims that anyone makes, no matter what side of the issue. Ask yourself: How much of it is biased? Is there any missing or misdirected information? Question everything and learn as much as possible before coming to a conclusion.
I don’t care which side of the issue you take as long as you can have an educated and passionate discussion that is devoid of insults and epithets. Be reasonable and civil. Prove to me that you can think beyond what others say. Show me that you care enough to understand and know the issues, making the argument your own rather than a recitation of someone else’s talking points. If you can do those things, you may very well bring something new to light that I hadn’t known. You may even succeed in convincing me to consider more or think differently.
I am an American woman, and there is a war being waged against me, at least according to many liberals, feminists, and democrats. According to them I should be outraged that the GOP, and any republican or conservative for that matter, is trying to revoke my rights. So I am left wondering whether or not I should be worried. I mean, after all, are we talking about women in America being subjected to many of the horrors of women in the Middle East such as Sharia Law? Are we in danger of becoming indentured servants to our fathers and husbands, being required to have four male witnesses for rape, or being stoned to death? Now that would be a true war on women, one that I would fight wholeheartedly.
As usual, I have sought to find a more clear and accurate definition that goes beyond the slogan. According to Karen Teegarden women should, “Watch TV news coverage. Read news stories in your morning paper. The War on Women is a war on reproductive rights. The evidence is clear” (1). Dave Helfert defines it as, “… what Democrats call an onslaught of legislation in state capitals across the country and in Congress aimed at limiting women’s health and family planning services, curtailing women’s access to contraceptives and legal abortions, even restricting women’s ability to fight employment discrimination” (2). After reading these articles as well as many others, the main conclusion that I can draw is that the “War on Women” is supposedly a war being waged by republicans in controlling women through legislation- the majority of which focuses on contraception and abortion. There are also allegations that republicans are trying to dismantle equal pay laws and stand in the way of violence against women legislation. All of these anti-women measures are surely an attempt to strip American women of their rights and freedoms- rights to access birth control, receive equal pay, and escape from domestic violence.
Wait a minute….can they do that? Is this really what is happening?
You see, part of the problem in our society, and part of the reason that these types of attacks are so successful, is that many people cannot or do not read between the lines. They hear something and latch on rather than understanding the details and issues. Nothing is ever black and white, but many like to present it as such.
More appropriate would be a title such as the War on Abortion, but you will never hear that because it changes the game. Not all women support all types of abortion. We are not talking about going back to an age where it is illegal to use birth control or an attack on women’s health services. Is it a stripping away of women’s access to health services if republicans argue that Planned Parenthood, who does provide abortion, should not receive taxpayer dollars to fund those services? It is a grey area. One side argues that the majority of Planned Parenthood’s services are for non-abortion things such as well-woman exams and counseling, and PP does not use federal funds for abortions. The other side argues that cutting off funding from America’s largest abortion provider would stop its ability to perform abortions. In my opinion, if Planned Parenthood is such a huge advocate for women’s health services, then it could easily find a way to separate tax-payer funded services from abortion- even breaking into two different groups. Maybe they could call it Planned Parenthood and Prevented Parenthood. That would quickly resolve the issue.
And what about contraception? I mean, it is clear that republicans and conservatives want American women to be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen, right? After all, if there is not mandated contraceptive coverage- free contraception that is– then women will not be able to avoid getting pregnant. According to Sandra Fluke, “…[women] have suffered financially and emotionally and medically because of this lack of coverage…contraception can cost a woman over $3,000…Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception….” (3). She said all of this and more in her testimony before Congress. Granted, she was specifically talking about women attending law school at Georgetown University. Yet, she never mentions the availability of free or low-cost options such as Planned Parenthood clinics and Walmart, who offers birth control prescriptions for as low as $9 per month. Maybe those options aren’t good enough for the Georgetown crowd or maybe they just don’t have access to Walmart. Even so, in the early 90’s when I was working for around $5.00 an hour as a fast food manager at McDonalds, I could afford my monthly prescriptions of birth control pills without insurance coverage or government intervention. The argument continues that it is not just about birth control but also about women who need the pills to help with medical problems such as PCOS and endometriosis. However, if you read the PPACA closely, free contraceptive coverage includes ALL US FDA approved methods and sterilization procedures: Male Condom, Female condom, Diaphragm with Spermicide, Sponge with Spermicide, Cervical Cap with Spermicide, Spermicide Alone, Oral Contraceptives (progestin-only) “The Minipill”, Combined Oral Contraceptives (Extended/Continuous Use)(estrogen and progestin) “The Pill”, Patch (estrogen and progestin), Vaginal Contraceptive Ring (estrogen and progestin), DMPA Shot/Injection (progestin), Emergency Contraceptives “The Morning After Pill”, Copper IUD, IUD with Progestin, Implantable Rod (progestin). The majority of these methods have nothing to do with medical necessity, and some are much more expensive than others. But anyone who pays taxes and insurance premiums will be footing the bill for women to have access to contraception because $9 per month is just too much of a burden to bear to avoid becoming pregnant. It is obvious that republicans, conservatives, and religious organizations are determined to strip all women of control over their reproductive rights by not supporting this legislation- isn’t it?
So the war on women’s health care access is really a war about the funding of Planned Parenthood and abortion. The war on reproductive rights is really a war on mandated coverage, or free, birth control.
What about equal pay for women? The White House and democrats tout statistics that state women earn 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. However, many of the articles I have read point out that these numbers are not necessarily accurate as they are based on a broad range of data. There are indications that there is still a gap in pay, but it may not be as large as some purport. Personally, I have never encountered discriminatory pay. I admit that I often feel like I am living on a different planet because my experiences must not be typical considering the issues at hand. Nonetheless, when I was a public high school teacher, my salary was set by the county and published for all to see. My salary was based on my level of education and years of experience. It was the same for my male counterparts, and the only way we received a pay increase was through step (year of teaching), cost of living, or contract negotiation with the union. I find this ironic as some of the articles I read claimed that female teachers earned less than their male counterparts, which leads me to believe that some of the data is definitely misleading or faulty. Or maybe they were just referencing teachers in private institutions. Even though The Equal Pay Act, which clearly prohibits pay discrimination, was enacted in 1963, many claim that it is not enough to fight wage disparity between men and women. A new law has been proposed, the Paycheck Fairness Act, that will supposedly give the original act more strength. The law has not passed the Senate because of those nasty, women-hating republicans. Unfortunately, there are many hidden facets in the PFA that make it excessive and burdensome to business. For example, The EPA already prohibits discrimination, but there are some elements that could be used as loopholes in lawsuits. Supposedly, the PFA remedies this. However, it also would make it extremely difficult for businesses and HR departments to use their professional judgments to make salary offers and pay decisions. It also would make it easier for lawsuits (including class action) against employers with no limit on punitive damages (except for the federal government) and would require businesses to disclose detailed salary information to the government. As with anything, there are obvious pros and cons to the act. Nevertheless, I do not believe that it is a war on women because some republicans and conservatives do not support it. Rather than trying to find a compromise and rewrite the act so that it truly helps women and businesses, it has become a rallying cry for democrats and liberals.
So the war on women’s equality in pay is really a war about playing politics for women’s votes.
What about the Violence Against Women Act? Are republicans holding it hostage as another attack on women? The act originated in 1994 and provides assistance to victims of domestic violence. It has been renewed twice before and is up for renewal again. This should be a no-brainer, right? So why is that republicans are holding out? It is not as simple as republicans refusing to support the law. In reality, the original law has had strong support from both sides of the aisle. The real debate involves two different versions, a republican bill that the house passed and an expanded version passed by the senate. The battle is not over the basics in the original law but rather the expanded provisions in the senate version. The new items in the senate version are as follows: “One would subject non-Indian suspects of domestic violence to prosecution before tribal courts for crimes allegedly committed on reservations. Another would expand the number of temporary visas for illegal immigrant victims of domestic violence [from 10,000 to 15,000]. The last would expand Violence Against Women Act protections to gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse” (4). There are plenty of arguments for and against the new additions, which I would expect on any piece of legislation. The problem here is not that those nasty, evil, women-hating republicans want to eliminate assistance for victims of domestic violence. It is that they do not all agree with the new provisions that democrats are pushing. So, once again, instead of Congress working together to find compromises in a bill that all can agree upon, they are turning it into a bitter debate. To make matters worse, democrats are using it as another example of the republican war on women.
So the war on stopping violence against women is really a war between political parties over the fine print.
I am deeply offended by the gross rhetoric being spewed forth. The War on Women is nothing more than political propaganda geared at gaining women’s support by using misleading phrases. Women such as Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Nancy Pelosi, Sandra Fluke, Andrea Mitchell, Rachel Maddow, and others in the group of liberal women and leftist media infuriate me. They believe they can speak for ALL women. They have no idea what I want or think. Me, the suburban mom who is literate, educated, professional, and American. I don’t give two flips about free birth control, funding for Planned Parenthood, more legislation to allow the government to regulate business and encourage litigation, or adding provisions to the VAWA. What I care about is the future of this country- economically. I care about my husband and I having jobs, paying the bills, my children’s futures. I care about being able to afford the gasoline that we need to get to our jobs and school while still keeping the lights on and buying groceries. I care about the housing market and how we are so upside down in our mortgage that there is no way we will be able to sell and move for years, even though the jobs we now have require longer commutes, and more gas. I care about personal freedom being protected and personal responsibility being endorsed. Those are the issues that are important to me, and none of them exist in the supposed War on Women.
My extensive reading list…(yes, I read all of these)
- The Campaign Against Women
- The War on Women
- How the War on Women Became Mainstream: Turning Back the Clock in Tea Party America
- Attention Media: Walmart and Target Have Been Offering $9 Birth Control Since 2007
- Republican “War On Women” Is Not A Left-Wing Invention
- Is There a Republican ‘War on Women’?
- Stop the War on Women
- Proof of the GOP War on Women
- Majority of Proposed Measures Suggests GOP War on Women Exists
- Republicans Are Blocking the Violence Against Women Act
- H.R. 1338 (110th): Paycheck Fairness Act
- GOP defeats equal pay, continues war on women
- Women are right, but the Republican war against women’s livelihoods continues
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963
- 77 Cents and Gender Discrimination: The Wrong Conclusion
- Paycheck Fairness Act: You Decide Is This Necessary?
- HR Alert! Oppose The Paycheck Fairness Act
- Business community opposes Paycheck Fairness ActObama says women need Paycheck Fairness Act
- U.S. Chamber on Equal Employment Opportunity IssuesCongress is Back, and They Need to Hear From You: Oppose the “Paycheck Fairness Act” and “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act”
- More than One Reason to Oppose the Paycheck Fairness Act
- Paycheck Fairness Act
- 5 Things You Should Know About The Paycheck Fairness Act
- The White House’s use of data on the gender wage gap
- In defeat of Paycheck Fairness Act, Senate goes into deep campaign mode
- Democrats continue to accuse GOP of a ‘war on women’
- House Vote Sets Up Battle on Domestic Violence Bill
- This week in the War on Women: GOP tries to protect the sanctity of traditional domestic violence
- Domestic Violence Becomes Political Weapon in War on Women
- Domestic violence new target in ‘war against women’: The measure would give tribes authority to prosecute non-Indians who commit violence against Indian women.
- GOP Denies It’s Anti-Woman, Opposes Expanded Domestic Violence Bill
- America’s War on Women
- The Politicization Of Domestic Violence
- GOP’s Violence Against Women Act Would Open Up Undocumented Victims To More Abuse
- GOP lawmakers rebutting ‘war on women’
- War on Women
- The War on Men
- ANDREA MITCHELL’S LIBERAL BIAS SHINES OVER RYAN PICK
- Why I Will Not Stand with Liberal Women
- The Liberal Heretic’s: The Top 20 Most Offensive Liberal Women
Anyone who’s ever volunteered on a grassroots campaign like ours will tell you: By Election Day, your local field office will feel like home.
And when you move into a new home, it’s pretty standard to celebrate with food and friends.
So let’s get together for a “housewarming” party for our new office in ________ City this week. No need to grab a present — just bring yourself and a friend or two to the open house on Wednesday.
Can you make it? Here are the details:
What: ______ City office opening
Where: OFA-FL office in _______ City
blah blah blah
blah blah blah
When: Wednesday, August 1st
5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
This office is going to be the hub for our organizing in _________. It’s where we’ll make the calls and plan the outreach that will help President Obama and other Democrats win this fall.
It’s also where you’ll meet some of the most passionate and interesting people — the folks that will become like family by the time Election Day rolls around.
I hope you can be there on Wednesday. Let us know you’ll be stopping by:
Florida State Field Director
Organizing for America
When you read the news 101 days from now, that might be the headline you see.
Those few words will tell us whether we fought back hard enough against Romney and the Republicans’ massive special-interest fundraising machine — or if we didn’t do enough, maybe because we got complacent or thought that we had this one in the bag.
Donate $3 or more today — and don’t leave this one up to luck, chance, or anything else.
Don’t let anyone convince you that this is a sure thing — our opponents have almost unlimited resources at their disposal, and we already know they’ll outspend us by a good amount.
What we do now decides the headlines on November 7th.
We’re facing a huge fundraising deadline. Please donate now, and have a hand in the outcome of this election:
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America
Please bear with me as this post is a work in progress. Today I am attempting to let my hair down, relax on the research, and express a viewpoint. I have limited time and focus as the animals, children, and husband are circling around me. To make things even more hurried, I have a commitment to be somewhere soon. So, I am going to hurry and spit it out.
I read a good amount of material, and I read often. Unfortunately, I usually end up spending more time reading the comments following an article rather than focusing on the article itself. The reason being that I am often shocked and taken back by the amount of negative and derogatory terms used. People who write in the comments section rarely have anything substantial or intelligent to add. Usually it is a brief harangue filled with vicious attacks. I would even go so far as to say that the posts border on hatred.
Rarely is this hatred focused on one individual or idea. It is often a fountain of expletives and poorly written insults against another group. It is what I would consider political racism between republicans/conservatives and democrats/liberals. I am not implying that intelligent people capable of disagreement and literate discourse are the perpetrators here. I am simply suggesting that the many illiterate, bigoted, intolerant, and hypocritical respondents have little to offer except regurgitated epithets that are often inflammatory and unjustified. It makes me wonder how many people in America actually think and act in this way. It scares me to realize that there are people in America who think and act this way. I am not suggesting my own superiority as I do not feel that way. I do not propose that my style of expressing myself is any better than any other. Nevertheless, I do expect a certain amount of decorum from people, especially adults. And I would like to think that Americans are capable of more than overused slang and vulgarities.
I am beginning to work on a list of derogatory terms as I stumbles across them. Feel free to send me any you have seen. I will continue to add to the lists. As I said, this is a work in progress.
Should politicians be held accountable for the things that they say? Is there a difference between a harmless gaffe, a slip of the tongue, and a true reflection of the individual’s personal agenda? If so, how can the average person determine the difference?
According to George Will, “A politician’s words reveal less about what he thinks about his subject than what he thinks about his audience” (1). So the question remains whether we should we judge politicians by their words, especially if we do not have a clear view or record of their actions. Nevertheless, many politicians have said things that when taken out of context could easily be misinterpreted. This is especially true for prominent individuals, and I doubt that there has been one who has not made some sort of gaffe.
The following video is a compilation of awkward moments and worth a laugh.
According to columnist Michael Kinsley, ” A gaffe is not necessarily when a politician tells the truth. It’s when a politician says what’s really on his or her mind, which may or may not be the truth” (3). In the game of politics and elections, it is only natural that the opposition will pick up on any gaffe and use it to their advantage by either taking it out of context, exaggerating it, or misrepresenting it. We have seen this repeatedly during election cycles, especially now. Kinsley argues that ” Either the remark is being misinterpreted by opponents, or it is what used to be called a Freudian slip, unintentionally revealing an attitude or prejudice that the candidate was trying to suppress” (3). He also argues that politicians are so well-trained on their talking points, especially those in major elections, that it would be unlikely that one would actually slip and say what is really on his or her mind.
I would agree with Kinsley on some of his points; however, I also know that politicians, especially those in big elections, have people who write their speeches for them. These speeches are riddled with the well-rehearsed talking points that we so often hear repeated over and over by all who are a part of the campaign and support it. There is often little variation in the substance, and the politician giving the speech typically uses a teleprompter. A 2009 article in The New York Times suggests that President Obama relies on a teleprompter “extensively” and “…uses them for routine announcements…” (4). The author of the article goes so far as to assert “For Mr. Obama, a teleprompter means message discipline, sticking close to the intended words. While some presidents prefer extemporizing, Mr. Obama likes the message to be just so” (4). Although I was not a big supporter of Rick Santorum, I do agree with a statement he made regarding the use of teleprompters:
“See, I always believed that when you run for president of the United States, it should be illegal to read off a
teleprompter. Because all you’re doing is reading someone else’s words to people.You’re voting for someone who
is going to be the leader of our government. It’s important for you to understand who that person is in their own
words, see them, look them in the eye…hear what’s (in their) heart.You’re choosing a leader. A leader isn’t just
about what’s written on a piece of paper” (2).
Perhaps in an effort to appear more genuine or in-touch with people, President Obama seems to speaking more freely during his campaign stops. I do not know whether or not he is still relying on a teleprompter for the smaller events, but my instinct tells me he is not. Nick Wing from The Huffington Post states that “Team Obama thinks the switch, or partial switch — the president is not giving up the teleprompter entirely — will help him better connect with voters” (5). Unfortunately, Obama has made many gaffes in recent months, ones that the republican party is quick to dissect. I cannot say whether or not this a result of Obama’s diminishing reliance on teleprompters and growing attempts to be more extemporaneous.
Most gaffes are harmless, perhaps an insensitive or misdirected attempt by a politician to connect with his or her audience. There are plenty of examples from which to draw (I will focus solely on Obama and Romney). For example, in January Mitt Romney said, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” When read by itself, that statement appears to be poorly constructed and paints the speaker as a ruthless tyrant. Nevertheless, when one reviews the entire speech, the meaning is clearly a continuation of his assertion that people should have choice and be able to fire health insurance companies that do not provide adequate or service to their customers. In February when he stated, “[My wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs” he showed his struggle to connect to the average American and appeared somewhat insensitive. But given Romney’s financial background, it would be naive for anyone to expect that on occasion he may slip and reveal glimpses of his wealth. And, when taken in the context of his speech, the message was clear that he was showing his support for the American auto industry, not flaunting his wealth. In September of 2011, Obama commented “Now, we used to have the best infrastructure in the world here in America. We’re the country that built the Intercontinental Railroad…” Obviously this is a harmless slip of the tongue to which any person could fall victim. It would be very easy to say intercontinental instead of transcontinental, and it does not demonstrate a lack of knowledge on Obama’s part. This June he had an “oops” moment when, according to White House transcripts, he said, “I want to thank my wonderful friend [Ellen DeGeneres] who accepts a little bit of teasing about Michelle beating her in pushups — (laughter) — but I think she claims Michelle didn’t go all the way down. (Laughter) ” It is unlikely that he realized or intended any sort of sexual innuendo in the comment.
So how does an average person such as myself determine what is in a candidate’s mind and heart? What information can I use to determine whether or not a verbal slip by a politician is merely poorly chosen words or a glimpse of more? I do not wish to form my opinions strictly based on those of conservative and liberal talking heads, like FOX and MSNBC. Therefore, the first thing I do is eliminate anything that is merely a regurgitation of a talking point. Then I spend an inordinate amount of time reading articles and opinion pieces. Yes, they are often biased, but I review ones that are representative of both sides. I also draw conclusions through my own analysis. I refer not only to the context of the speech but also the speaker’s tone, body language, and word choice.
On July 13, President Obama gave a speech in Roanoke, Virginia during a campaign event. The content, and obvious gaffe, has been the subject of much debate as well as fodder for the Romney campaign. In her article for The Hill, Amie Parnes writes, “Republicans say the seemingly unscripted ‘you didn’t build that’ moment…exposed what they say are Obama’s dismissive feelings for the role of business and the private sector” (6). Although my initial reaction upon hearing the speech was insult and anger, I gave it deep consideration. Rather than focusing on sound bites and isolated lines, I read the 38 minute speech for myself. I also watched the video. Despite the many platitudes, ideals, and personal reflections contained within, there was only one portion that stood out to me, and it still insulted and angered me. The following excerpt, approximately 33 minutes into the speech, is what I believe deserves analysis:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something
back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get
there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.
There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me
tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in
your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.
Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else
made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that
all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do
things together. (7)
I realize that the conservative media and republican party have picked lines from this section of the speech to strengthen their attack on Obama. Nevertheless, that is not specifically why I chose it. As a matter of fact, I feel that in this instance they are fully justified in their attacks. Despite the fact that Obama’s main message is that everyone works together and relies on others to accomplish goals, which I support, I think there is also a hidden message here. I see some very disturbing and telling things in these spoken lines.
It is obvious that Obama is not following a script at this point as he says “They know they didn’t — look…” The shift in his sentence structure and a brief pause indicate a change in direction, and his expression and tone clearly demonstrate deliberate thought. As he continues, his facial expression, body language, cadence, and tone all change. When Obama says “I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there,” he appears agitated, almost angry. I would even go so far as to say he has the beginnings of a smirk or sneer on his face. Then he continues to attack some invisible adversary as he lectures, ” It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” All of this combined forces me to question his real target. Is it Mitt Romney? Is it those who earn $250,000 or more a year? Is it the individuals who have taken pride in establishing their own businesses? Just whom is he addressing and berating? I also wonder if this is how he views the mindset of “successful” Americans (I’m so smart and worked harder). Does Obama define success by wealth?
These questions all lead me to wonder exactly what Obama means when he says, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” I now know that the object of his derision is the business owner. Obama’s tone is still accusatory and bitter. His body language and expressions continue to indicate agitation. His curved fingers and lowered eyelids as he expresses his thoughts signify anger. Unfortunately, he does not pause to define who that “somebody else” is that made things happen. Is he speaking of the government? middle-class Americans? other businesses? Just who is the “somebody else”?
The next two lines in the speech absolutely define who Obama thinks “somebody else” is- the government. He states, “The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.” This may be two short lines, but they resonate loudly as a clear example of Obama’s point. Companies (aka businesses) are successful (aka rich) because the government provided the Internet (aka means). The statement is faulty logic (post hoc I believe), and also plays off the fact that most people do not distinguish between the Internet and the World Wide Web- which I will save for another post.
Obama’s words are clear here, and no spin, retraction, or “what I meant” can make it any less shocking to me. The obvious disdain and vexation with which Obama speaks, the facial expressions, the body language, all paint a very vivid picture for me. I am no expert in body language, but I sense the change at this point in the speech. I see the sneer, sense the slight variation in his voice, notice the tension in his body. All indicate to me a strong, deep, personal feeling about something.
Gaffes are a part of human nature. Sometimes they are a harmless slip of the tongue signifying nothing. Sometimes they provide material for late night talk show hosts and opponents. Sometimes they reflect the true beliefs and feelings of the speaker. In the case of Obama’s speech I feel it is the latter. I believe that he meant exactly what he said.
I really like the points that Patrick Gage makes in his blog regarding Obama’s speech. He poses a good argument to support his assertion that “Obama believes that government is the foremost creator of economic prosperity in America.” Please take a moment to read it.
(1) Famous Quotes About Politicians and Politics
(2) Politicians (Barack Obama) Who Use a Teleprompter Can’t Think for Themselves
(3) The Gaffe-termath of Political Slips
(4) President Sticks to the Script, With a Little Help
(5) Obama Teleprompter Getting Less Use On Campaign Trail
(6) ‘You didn’t build that’ remarks won’t change Obama’s strategy on the stump
(7) Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event in Roanoke, Virginia
10 Most Awkward Political Gaffes (video)
Dumb Mitt Romney Quotes
Romney: ‘I like being able to fire people who provide services to me’
Mitt Romney: Wife Ann drives ‘a couple of Cadillacs’
Obamaisms: Dumb Quotes and Gaffes by Barack Obama
President Obama’s ‘private sector’ gaffe a possible window to soul like other recent gaffes?
Last call: The President is heading home to Chicago for his birthday — and you could join him for the celebration.
Pitch in $3 or whatever you can before tonight’s midnight deadline to be automatically entered — we’ll cover your airfare.
(((recycled publicity photo )))
Obama for America