Last night, Holly and I were watching TV and there wasn’t much on, so when we came across the 20/20 Special “State Of The Union: A Country Divided“, we watched the introduction to the show. As George Stephanopoulos gave an overview of what was to come and showed clips of what we would be seeing, I was startled to see one of my clients being interviewed! Nothing else had our attention, so we stayed tuned to watch more.
The basic premise of the show was that the United States is more divided than ever, polarized if you will, between liberal (blue state) and conservative (red state). So George showed the small town of Montclair, New Jersey to illustrate a blue state community and then Franklin, Tennessee as a red state community. That’s where my client came in. H. Leonard Issacs is a reverend for a church in Franklin, among other faith based endeavors, and he leads a mens prayer group in Darryl Waltrip’s home.
It was somewhat exciting to see someone I know being on a national program, but I have to confess that I HATED the special. I tried to watch it up to the end, but I just couldn’t do it. I really wanted to like the program because I happen to like George Stephanopoulos and I think 20/20 is one of the better news programs out there. Unfortunately, this program was tainted from the start.
The reason for my distaste for the program stems from the fact that there was an un-mentioned bias that clouded the whole program. It’s an assumption that I see popping up more-and-more in the media, in books and in everyday conversation. It’s almost being boiled down to a mathematical equation:
Democrat = Liberal
Republican = Conservative
~ thusly ~
Liberal = Non-Christian, tree hugging, hippie
Conservative = Christian, gun toting, war monger
Since 20/20 had this preconceived notion in their minds already, everything in the program was styled to reflect this belief. I kept wanting to scream “Facts, not in evidence!”. Because until you define the terms that you’re throwing about willy nilly, your argument is flawed. What was presented was nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. So all the video and discussion that was presented was nothing more than content that supported their world view – a world view I don’t agree with.
I’ve never been one for labels. In high school, I wasn’t a jock, or one of the BMOCs. I wasn’t a nerd, or a band geek. Looking back now, I don’t know what I was other than just a kid. As I grew up my politics seemed to follow the same style. I’ve never labeled myself a Republican, or a Democrat. I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly liberal, or conservative either. I’m a mix of all those things. On some issues I tend to be liberal and on others more conservative. And you know what? I don’t think I’m unique. I think everyone is a like that. It’s only when you force someone to pick sides that you start to polarize the issue. “Well gee, I guess if I have to choose between a rock and a hard place, I’ll go with that team.”
I don’t care what color you choose, but by putting up the context that you have to choose, you’re forcing people to go to one extreme, or another. Then with everyone entrenched on being either liberal, or conservative, you’ve created extremists for both sides and isn’t that what the whole War On Terror is about stopping?
Sure, America is divided when you force the artificial constructs of liberal or conservative, but for that matter, you might as well do a program about north versus south, because there are just as many differences there. The simple fact is that America is a diverse nation and whatever type of American you’re looking for, if you look hard enough, you’ll find it. Using 20/20’s logic, America must be full of women who don’t know who the father of their babies are, because that’s about the only type of guest I see on Maury.
I haven’t really written about politics in the past and I’m not usually one to get up on my soapbox and berate an issue, but after watching the first half of “State Of The Union: A Country Divided”, I just felt compelled because it was so poorly done. I could go into great lengths regarding some of the facts that they presented and how I think they’re flawed — such as how Franklin is really nothing but an extended suburb of Nashville, or how Franklin is not the largest “city” in the county and so their votes have to be weighed against the rest of the voters in the county, — but I’m reminded of the old saying, “There are lies, damn lies, — and statistics.” 😛
The bottom line is that this whole red state, blue state thing is a load of crap. I for one and tired of the argument and just wish that there was a third option. I’m not red and I’m not blue. Can’t I just be purple? ???