You read the title right. This Tuesday the world ends. So say about two thirds of my Facebook friends. One third of my friends believe that the world will end if President Obama is re-elected. They think that we are on our way to socialism. The government will tax all rich people into poverty. The government will send agents into our churches to take away our religious freedom. The borders of our country will swing wide open and immigration will explode into the country unabated. Crazy environmentalists will create so many regulations that it will be impossible to run a business in the United States. Our military will be reduced so much that we will be unable to defend ourselves from Canada, much less against Islamic terrorists.
On the other hand, a third of my Facebook friends believe that the world will end this Tuesday if Governor Romney is elected president. They think that we will usher in a fascist government. Women will be forced to become child -bearing machines. Blacks will have to return to slavery. Wealthy individuals will be able to write all of our laws and will do so in such a way to make sure there are a lot of poor desperate people who will work for feudalist wages. Pollution will be allowed so much that global warming will bake the earth to a cinder. Yeah, good times to be had by all.
The good part is that I am exaggerating. The bad part is that I am not exaggerating by that much. If you listen to those on the left and the right you would start to believe that if their guy does not win then the world really will end. This is the natural result of what happens when we develop a dichotomous attitude within our political system. It is not only that we have to think of our side as angelic. We also have to think of the other side as demonic. The ends justify the means. It really does not matter if people vote for our party because they buy into our vision or because they are scared to death of the other party. Therefore, sowing fear is justified by the far right and the far left.
Now I am not going to make the stupid argument that it does not matter who wins the election because both parties are the same. I have a preference for who wins the election. I believe that if the guy I want to win does win that it will make things a little better in our country. If the other guy wins, I believe that things will be a little worse than it would be if my guy wins. But society will not end. The world will not fall apart. My life will keep on going and I will go to work the next day. The political parties do have differences, but neither one is going to overhaul our society so much that it will not be recognizable. If the person I want does not win, I will naturally be disappointed, but I will not be fearful or depressed because I never bought into the narrative that the other guy was a demon in the first place.
Much of my earlier research has been on the racial divide in our society. That divide is real and it still exists. See my colleague’s post of a couple of days ago to see even more evidence of this divide. But as I studied cultural progressives and became more acquainted with the literature on the culture war, I have come to realize that there is a political divide deeper than the current cultural divide in our society. Understanding the origin of that divide is beyond my knowledge right now, but the depth of that divide is so much that it threatens to poison our society with the hatred and vitriol that comes out of this level of hostility.
You may have noticed that there is a third of my Facebook friends missing in this analysis. I fit into that third. It is those of us who get tired of all of the political nastiness that comes out in this election season. We want a society where people can disagree but they do so in an attitude of respect with those they disagree with. I know that there are people who have this attitude since so many of them “like” my Facebook posts when I complain about the political rhetoric we have to put up with. They, like me, are so ready for the election to be over with and for some sense of normalcy to come back to our culture. We will especially be excited to see the end of the nasty Facebook posts which insult anyone who disagrees with the political view of the person sending the post.
Now before someone complains that my third, third, third evaluation is not a scientific assessment of the entire society, let me be the first to agree with you. I do not know what percentage of society is far left and believe that there is nothing good about Republicans and what percentage of society is far right and believe that there is nothing good about Democrats. I especially do not know the percentage of people who are tired of all of this political hatred and want to see a country that works things out instead of making inane accusations. But there is enough in each group to have a non-trivial presence in our society. This is the dynamic we have to work with as we move forward after this Tuesday – once we see that the world has not ended.
I hope that after all of the emotions of this next week’s election have played themselves out that we as a society can begin to rethink our approach to politics. Indeed, we should feel passionately about our political causes. But we should also recognize that people on our political side can be wrong and those on the other side can be right. Such recognition may help us to be a bit more humble in our political proclamations. Such humility might allow us to see the humanity within those who have a different vision of society than we do.