Are you a political bigot?

Time writer retraction Zeke Miller MLK bust

The Time magazine writer did retract his false claims about the MLK bust. He apologized to his colleagues, but the original message persisted. (Via Twitter @ZekeJMiller)

Have you banned someone from social media or your life because you disagree with his or her politics? Do you walk around comparing former or current presidents to Hitler? Do you believe every claim your favorite pundit makes, even if it’s not based on fact?

If so, you’ve been had. 

Technology has brought information into our lives on an unprecedented basis. We’re addicted. When my husband drives us somewhere, I watch people in cars. I lost count of individuals looking at a phone above the steering wheel and oblivious to other cars on the road. It’s insane.

Years ago when my husband and I became a couple, I had a major adjustment. Even when he didn’t watch TV, he left it on. This was long before 24/7 news cycles, by the way. We had talks about this silly thing. Finally, we arrived at a compromise. He agreed to “try” to remember to turn the TV off. I agreed to whack it if he forgot to turn it off.

I watch less TV now than I ever have in my life. I’d rather read. And that brings me to the point I want to make.

Having witnessed smashups on social media between friends, I’ve come to the conclusion most people shouldn’t even try to talk about politics. Why?

Most who argue politics rely on corporate media, both right and left. The majority of media belong to one side or the other.

Thing is, most of what you hear or read is based on information distributed by the government.

Therefore, as I often recommend to others in person, if you want to know what your government is actually doing, go to the government websites. There are countless .gov websites with troves of information.

Representatives and senators maintain websites. I’d wager most voters have rarely if ever even looked at those sites. Same goes for the US House and Senate websites where you can see what business will be dealt with and what votes will be taken.

Want the juicy stuff? Look for pages for Inspector General. Or check out the fine print on State Department and IRS websites. Meander through releases at the Dept. of Justice. Or EPA. Or HHS. Only when you do this and when you objectively view the actual deeds of those you elect, as opposed to cheerleading their rhetoric, will you begin to be able to gauge the deeds of government. I am talking about the federal level here because that’s where I see the rabid divisiveness.

It’s odd that I don’t see the fiery animosity in convos about local or state government that I see in exchanges about the feds.

I spent years writing about politics and government. I readily disclose my own political leanings, but most writers don’t, even those who project themselves as unbiased “reporters.”

I count people from both sides of the aisle and beyond among my loved ones. I have never banished anyone because of his or her politics, even if I disagree with their positions. I enjoy hearing opinions of others and I am respectful when others share them. That said, I am often dismayed at the outright misinformation people take as truth on both major sides of the aisle.

When you want to know something important about your government, go directly to the source. Regardless of your ideology, you will be surprised at what you find. I guarantee it.

Bear something else in mind.

Professionals who make a living off politics are doing a job. When you hear statements made by “analysts” or former government employees, don’t take them at their word. Go to the government site and compare what is being said to what was done.

Members of the political class may be aggressively partisan in public, but when the cameras aren’t around, it’s a different story for most of them. After all, even ex-presidents whose rhetoric differed in major ways seem congenial with one another once their government service ends.

Persuasion politics is aimed at acquiring power through promoting ideas. Those ideas are most often funded by interest groups. Don’t lock yourself into a mindset because you hear what you want to hear.

Don’t be a political bigot. In the end, you lose if you choose to be suckered by rhetoric.

And for the record, no president in modern times, including the current president or the one he replaced, should be compared to Hitler. That’s pure propaganda and the purveyors know it.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Oct. 20, 2017)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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