Monday, March 22, 2010

What HAPPENS to People?

So, probably like a lot of people here, Facebook has become part of my online landscape, and it's reconnected me with some old friends and acquaintances. It's been interesting to get a glimpse into people's current lives these several decades past high school, and in some cases we've had a chance to get together in person, which has been awesome.

Now, it's not like we were policy wonks as teenagers. I mean, we were all in junior high during the Watergate hearings. Politics was just about the last thing any of us wanted to spend our time on...well, this side of the Debate Club and Model U.N., neither of which was my crowd. So I don't know if some of the views I have been seeing pop up lately have been there all along, quietly, or if they've built up over time.

But among that segment of my Friends From Youth, every now and then I'll see FB posts like these:

"So-and-so just became a fan of John Boehner."

"Xxxxx just joined the group Proud Conservatives."

"Can this goat get more friends than Barack Hussein Obama?"

And, tonight, in the wake of the HCR vote, one Old Friend actually commented "This is how democracy dies...to thunderous applause" and continues to insist that it's all a "government takeover" leading inexorably to Communism, and that "the dems" will "try to blame Bush."

These are the utterances of people I don't recognize as themselves anymore. They've morphed into Fauxbots who fan Sean Hannity's FB page and post all kinds of the crazy.

What do you think happened? On the whole I don't comment on these posts of theirs - just let them go, as you might at the family dinner table for the sake of peace. (Though tonight I did challenge - with civility - one post which put forth the views of felon/fraudster Conrad Black as an accurate portrait of Canadian health care, a topic on which I feel I know a bit more than the average American these days.) I just find myself wondering what may have made people whom I remember as basically reasonable come to sip from the Tea Party's trough.

I can't honestly remember a time when my views didn't trend progressive. A level playing field and a decent shake for the middle class always seemed like common sense. Public education and access to social services logically made for the bedrock of a stable and competitive society. Trying to stick my nose into other people's bedrooms or churches or lack of a church? Rude and disrespectful of their choices and intelligence. And shrinking government down to nothing? Please. I like having paved roads, safe drinking water, national parks, and a fire department.

Liberalism was always the default, the sane position to hold, from my perspective. So now, to find people whose names and faces I know - rather than anonymous wingnuts on the Series Of Tubes - throwing around viewpoints at such a 180 from my own basic settings is perplexing and unsettling. Not to mention unexpected.

The closest thing to this, in my own life, was when my grad school roommate voted for Reagan because she thought he "was a nice man." (She has wised up, over time...)

If any of you have examples or insights from your own experience to share, I'd be grateful. I'm not about to de-friend anybody over there on FB just over politics, but I'm at a real loss to understand what has spurred some of these transformations. Surely the right-wing kool-aid isn't that tasty...?!

4 comments:

Count Istvan said...

A lot of it like it or not is the President is black. Being where I am and having family from here and In laws in Missouri I just shut it out.

I am absolutely convinced it is nothing more than fear of what they do not understand. That's it. They do however understand they won't be in power again for a long, long, long time and that too brings much anger.

As for the Star Wars reference not the first time I have seen it to night. It makes me laugh. Where were these people's concerns over democracy in 2003? 2004? 2006? See the truth is Conservatives hate democracy unless they are in charge of it.

As for the thoughts of the rightwing I thought about saying a few things to some of my old twitter "friends" Fleckenstein, Dickerhoof (they're actual names) Cubachi, Eddie Burke, Rockonrobin (losers each and every one) and letting them have it tonight. But I left them alone. There is too much to happy about tonight with letting their ignorance and misery bring me down.

March 22, 2010 3:17 AM

Count Istvan said...

There is one more answer you could hope for I guess. Other people send groups for them to join and they do with out even bothering to see what that groups is. It's a long shot I admit.

et said...

The ethnic issue may well have a lot to do with it. At my Southern AZ high school - the first one built there, aka "inner city" - the majority was decidedly Hispanic. Not to evoke "West Side Story" or anything, but on one occasion we actually had SWAT teams with rifles on top of one of the buildings because of the gang fights in the parking lot, often involving chains and knives. So there may have been some latent Caucasian resentment, ready and waiting for any trigger to bring it into flower.

And now that I think of it, this was also the era when the slick, multimedia revivals and megachurches first began to emerge - the age of those bumper stickers proclaiming "I Found It!" People who bought into that franchise gradually saw it embrace all kinds of wingnuttiness, and probably went along for the ride. (The friend who posted the SW reference? Actually WORKS for Focus On The Family. That is so NOT the person I used to know, I can't begin to tell you.)

I don't understand how the GOP can't recognize its own hypocrisy, though. Slam through a vote on Terri Schiavo and her tragic situation on the most disingenuous of terms, and yet decry what has just happened as some kind of unconstitutional perversion of the Founders' intent? Whine about reconciliation as a tactic after using it themselves dozens of times? (I actually think the furor the Democrats were able to fuel over the "deem and pass" strategy ended up brilliant - it took all the teeth out of the GOP play to paint reconciliation as illegitimate, since it made it far the lesser of two presumed "evils.")

But, you're right, Count. Too much good has been done tonight - if imperfect and in need of tweaking - to dwell on the naysayers, perplexing though I find their views.

The nation of my birth has done something historic and, ultimately, beneficial, and I am proud and content.

et said...

And, today? - their comments are all about "revenge" in November, how now everyone's "freedoms" are curtailed, and nobody has to take responsibility for their own health any more in this nasty, Socialist state the USA is becoming.

Seems that detoxing from the RW kool-aid takes more than a single historic vote, let alone a single election cycle! I think I'm resigned to wincing and ignoring some FB friends' posts for quite a while longer...

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