Sorry, But I Don’t Hate Mitt Romney

flickr: mafleen

This past weekend, I had the privilege of spending 36 hours in Ohio. Apparently they are getting a good deal of presidential election attention. In fact, I came “this” close to being at a joint Paul Ryan Rally and Pumpkin Chucking event.

Good times in Ohio. I am sure the election season can’t be over soon enough for my Ohio friends.

While I was there I had a good talk with a friend about what seems to be a genuine HATRED of President Obama. I realize that during election season there is always some level of mud-slinging and personal attacks, but the tone this year feels different than just trying to sway voters. This year it feels like the disdain and hate of Barack Obama is clogging up whatever free-flow of public debate that was left. I almost don’t care about why the hate seems to be so strong and I am not so naive to think we can all “just get along,” but I do think this tone has to be challenged and we must all refrain from stoking the fires of hate.

This past week, with my “People really HATE Barack Obama” antenna up, I clicked on an article, Fear and loathing in campaign 2012: As patriarchal, Christian dominance fades demographically, its backlash politics have only become more vicious by Arthur Goldwag, author of Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies.

…the kind of hatred that I’m talking about goes way beyond ordinary politics and deep into the realm of abnormal psychology. In its full-blown manifestations, it is akin to what an ophidiophobe feels at the sight of a snake: visceral and existential; categorical and absolute. It turns on the gut certainty that your adversaries aren’t looking just to raise your taxes but to destroy your whole way of life: that they are not only wrongheaded, but preternaturally evil. Comparatively few people experience these feelings on a conscious level, but they lie latent in many more of us than we might suspect.

Now I have been pretty clear that I am not a Romney Supporter. I would say that I am an Obama supporter, with a soft spot for Stein. And while I vehemently disagree with what Romney stands for on marriage equalityimmigration, government programs, etc. and think his election would be horrible for the United States in so many ways, I can honestly say that I do not hate him. In fact, I am one of those people that does not hate anyone. Be it political, professional, or personal, hate is a waste of my breath, a waste of my energy and a dishonor to God.

  • I don’t hate the girl who dumped me in high school.
  • I don’t hate the colleague who I think is incompetent.
  • I don’t hate George W. Bush, who I believe a horrendous President.
  • I don’t hate the person who beat me as a child.
  • I don’t hate the man who shot and killed my brother-in-law.

Disappointed in, angry with, livid towards, offended by, yes, but hateful towards another?

Never.

Hate is a powerful driving force and when repeatedly called upon, it strips us all of our humanity. As a parent, I do not forbid saying the word, but its use never goes unchallenged by a conversation with my children about what they are feeling. Call it hippie-talk, “politically correct” or whatever, but I believe that actions driven by hatred have allowed us to one-dimensionalize one another and our apathy towards it is tearing our culture and our country apart.

Hate in personal or professional situations has its own set of problems, but in politics hate renders us unable to separate the human being from the politician. One can hate and fight against what someone does or believes, but to hate the human being behind those things is a dangerous place to be for us a individuals or as a country. When hate invades our politics we begin to create legislation based upon assumptions and understandings that are not driven on a deep understanding of complex issues, but upon how we want to culturally and institutionally hold captive the other.

I understand that at this point, folks who are going to vote against Barack Obama are not going to change their minds. All I am hoping for is that, in the pursuit of the common good, our decisions on election day and beyond are made based on disagreement about the issues and not hatred of the individual. For when hate is the lens through which we view the world and form our policies, a cycle of reciprocated hatred by those who are targeted will undoubtedly be the outcome.

When we hate we all lose, no matter who gets elected.

To receive all of my posts via email please subscribe: LOCAL and GLOBAL.

  • CarlMN

    Very good post, Bruce. I also do not hate Romney, despite my strong disapproval of so much of what he seems to stand for, as well as what he doesn’t stand for. There is yet another (huge) step to take, though. Can we love Mitt Romney for who he really is?

    If not, then we cannot claim to love God. Unless we don’t believe that everything that exists, and everyone who lives is a creation or manifestation of God.

    So the challenge and the opportunity before us is to see beyond the outward manifestations of individuals and into the essence of who they are as human beings. The behaviors are not the person. The true essence of a person is an embodiment of a bit of the divinity of God. Hindus (as well as many others) recognize this when they put their hands together in prayer position and bow to another with “Namaste” – “I honor the place within you where the entire Universe resides; I honor the place within you of love, of light, of truth, of peace; I honor the place within you, where, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us” as Mahatma Gandhi put it. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is a Christian form of guidance to do exactly this – to love the essential God-nature of each and every person, regardless of how much we might disapprove of and perhaps fear their behaviors.

    Every religion and spiritual tradition offers some statement that is essentially equivalent to the “Golden Rule” of Christianity, thus providing essentially the same guidance to both challenge and inspire us towards our greatest potentials and our highest ideals.

  • Missy

    Well said, but sadly, no one here seems to recognize that hate knows no party. Have you not seen all the tweets threatening to riot and murder Romney if Obama lost? We have to start being realistic and not think “hate” is owned by Republicans and conservatives. It’s an equal opportunity emotion.

  • Reader

    I like the following quote:

    “I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

    - John Wesley
    6 October, 1774

    I feel those words from long ago, still apply and fall in line with your article. Thank you for sharing your views with all of us, and please remember to vote.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    Thanks for taking the time to respond, you are def navigated a difficult path, but one we all must get better at . . . and WANT to be part of.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    Richard, thanks for commenting and give a great opportunity for some conversation about language. Are you calling me stupid? My kids read many of these comments and I do need to help them to understand why folks do use language as they do, so any clarification would be great.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    Woud love it it if you left your real name, but I’ll answer anyway. Could you flesh this comment out as I am not sure what exactly you mean? Are you a Presbyterian and what has been your experience with the denomination? I simple do not want to make any assumptions about your perspective.

  • Dumbsheep Thoughts

    Bruce….to think you were moderator of the PC(USA)…..also in steep decline.

  • Richard Leonard

    I’m not sure what is the lesser of two evils–to hate Obama or to be stupid enough to be for him.

  • Small Town Rev

    I am a pastor in the most conservative (and poorest) part of a generally liberal state. It is important to me that there be “room” for all my parishioners, so I work hard to avoid divisive partisan politics in our common life. This means that there are those who don’t really know where I “land” politically and so they include me when they forward an email from their respective political parties. The ones that come from Democrats are consistently about issues, wanting to use their energy and political power to make a difference for the poor and marginalized. The ones that come from Republicans are consistently filled with at best misleading half-truths (and more often outright lies) about the President and Democrats in general. They are more interested in spewing hate than presenting a vision for the future. It saddens me that the people who most readily claim the title “Christian” are the ones doing the least to embody actual Christian values.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Raine/1634994532 Mary Raine

    Absolutely! I completely agree!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Raine/1634994532 Mary Raine

    Absolutely! I completely agree!

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    Thank you very much. I very much agree with how the word used with a perceived lack of power.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1275474104 Julie Punty Olsen

    The rising tide of hate and vitriol is quite troubling. I’m especially disturbed to see it in my Christian brothers and sisters (though, I don’t hold them to a different standard as that is a peeve of mine – it just surprises me as it’s not what I’ve come to know them to be like). When faced with factual truths that weren’t favorable about the candidate I support I think and respond wow that’s terrible and I look it up to verify the veracity of the claim…but what I’m seeing is others’ complete denial of even the idea that their original viewpoint might be based on a lie that evidence now disproves. To me, that is derived from hate and pride – behaviors that God clearly dislikes His children to engage in. It’s even more disheartening to see pastors perpetuating the divisiveness and hatred. It’s been a wake up call for me personally and I’ve made some changes in my personal associations and those who I have admired in the church and other circles as of late. It’s heartbreaking but a reality that had to be dealt with.

  • Saladdin

    Beautifully written post. Often, I think we use the word hate too easily, especially when we don’t really mean it.

  • Randi

    Bruce, I have been following you through your writings and on Facebook and all I can say is “FINALLY someone I resonate with.” I am a Christian person who often feels out of place- being “too liberal” for conservatives and “too conservative” for liberals. Where your heart is at and the care with which you present your take on things gives me hope that there are people out there who can be progressive and Christian, people with passionate opinions and a respect for the opposition. Good for you, Bruce. Thanks for your great work.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    Exactly. Seems to be a huge part of the fury though. Deeply troublesome.

  • pagansister

    It seem fruitless to “hate” a political figure—you can totally disagree with them, find them offensive, ignorant, aloof, etc. but to Hate them? Why? Services no purpose at all. Personally I’m not voting for Romney, for many reasons. President Obama hasn’t had enough time to continue fixing the mess left to him by “W”, who in my opinion was just dumb—and was being run by Chaney, the Puppet Master.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X