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.

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Election 2012, What Presbyterians Should Care About – Norb Kumagai

Photo: LWVC

As part of the ongoing Patheos 2012 election coverage and commentary, I am opening up my blog for Presbyterians to answer this week’s question, “What are the key issues at stake in this election for people of your tradition?” I gave no guidance other than to keep it under 500 words and to avoid bashing and dehumanizing rhetoric. If you would like in for this week, message me via my FB Page.

First up, Norb Kumagai -

We lost our Dad, Lindy Kumagai M.D., to cancer almost five years ago. Our Dad, one of the original faculty members at The U.C. Davis School of Medicine, was the author of the school’s “Special Admissions Program” and was Chair of The Admissions Committee the two years that Mr. Alan Bakke applied and was denied admission (U.C. Board of Regents v. Bakke, 1978).

In mid-November’07, I made arrangements with our County Elections Office for our Dad to cast a “Vote By Mail” Ballot (February’08 California Presidential Primary Election), as soon as it was legally permissible.  I recall explaining to our Dad that he would be able to vote early (“One, Last, Final Time”) and asked whom he would support to which he replied, “Obama, Because It’s All About Race”.

Sadly, our Dad was never able to cast a ballot for Barack Obama having passed away over Thanksgiving Weekend’07.

For me, someone who has a strong interest in civil rights and social justice issues, Election 2012 in many respects, is all about race. My faith and my personal experiences are what guide me.

Our Mom, my relatives and my grandparents were interned during World War II in Topaz, Utah. They were denied their constitutional rights as they were rounded up and “deported” to “The Jewel of The Desert”.  The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., U.F.W. President Cesar Chavez and U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy all combined their faith with their advocacy for civil rights. As Presbyterians, we should be called to do the same.

We have witnessed Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer’s SB 1070 “Papers Please” which targets Latinos. Although The Supreme Court threw out most of the statute, local law enforcement is presently allowed to stop and question anyone whom they “reasonably suspect” is undocumented.

Voter Identification Laws, which Republicans claim will ensure the sanctity of the ballot box, also targets race. According to The Brennan Institute For Justice (New York School Of Law), potentially five million eligible voters, many of who are people of color, could be disenfranchised because they lack the identification necessary to vote in specific states.

U.S. Attorney General Erik Holder has successfully challenged both Arizona’s SB1070 and Voter Identification statutes. I’m pretty certain that former Attorney Generals John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzalez (who both served under President George W. Bush) would not have done the same.

Following The Rodney King Verdict and the subsequent unrest, a close friend of mine, Ms. Angela Oh, was asked by President Clinton to serve on a task force which traveled throughout the country and engaged others in discussions about race.

As you cast your ballot (either by mail or at the polls), please prayerfully ask yourself, are we progressing forward or taking our country back to the early 1960’s where African Americans lost their lives to ensure our right to vote?? I would welcome a renewed discussion about race relations and social justice issues once this election is over. Perhaps like-minded Presbyterians could lead the way.

[Norb Kumagai, who “Lives & Breathes Politics”, resides in Northern California and is an Ordained Elder in The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)]

Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

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