Rob Port: The most patriotic thing you could do today? Stop listening to idiots
From the commentary: Democrats haven't given up on America. Republicans don't want people to be miserable or dead. Most Americans, whatever their politics, have universal goals, mostly concerning peace and prosperity, and only differ on the paths we ought to take to get there. All we have to do, to make things better in America, is stop listening to the people who say otherwise.
MINOT, N.D. — On a recent episode of Stephen Colbert's talk show, Jon Lovett, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama who is today one of the hosts of a wildly popular left-wing podcast, said Republicans support "a bunch of terrible stuff that makes life worse and shorter for a lot of people."
He said the Republican slogan for the midterms ought to be, "We'll make life worse and shorter."
Meanwhile, across the widening chasm that is America's political and cultural divide, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, during a recent broadcast of his nightly show, accused Democrats of having "given up on the country and given up on the people who live here."
Democrats believe there's "no future worth having," he ranted.
"They don't care about you at all," he said.
Are these men right?
Is American politics dominated by Republicans, who want us to be miserable and die, and Democrats, who have descended into nihilism?
Well, no. That's not right at all. And yet, millions upon millions of us listen to people like these men who fill up television screens and social media threads and hours of podcasts hurling invective across the political divide.
No wonder our nation is dysfunctional.
Another example is the recent kerfuffle over the PACT Act , which saw Democrats and Republicans at odds over funding for medical care for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. It should have been an easy bill to pass, even despite debates over the amount of funding and whether or not that funding out to be discretionary or nondiscretionary.
Grownups should be able to resolve those sort of differences easily. Instead, we got Jon Stewart cursing at people on television while Republicans and Democrats jockeyed to convince Americans that their opponents want veterans to die slow, cruel deaths from cancer.
There is no "loyal opposition."
Dissent, in a democracy, should be considered a form of patriotism (except when motivated by rank partisanship). In today's politics, disagreeing with one side just means you're evil to them.
And here you readers are, nodding along, thinking I'm basically right, in a quaint sort of way, but maybe also thinking that Carlson has it right (or Lovett, depending on your biases), and that somehow today's Democrats (or Republicans!) are different. That they really are horrendous, uncaring troglodytes.
Carlson and Lovett and the legions of other hate-spewing pundits thrive off of people like you. It's how they make their living.
Yet they're wrong. And you're wrong, if you believe them.
Democrats haven't given up on America. Republicans don't want people to be miserable or dead. Conservatism isn't bigotry, liberals aren't trying to turn your children into transgender communists, and nobody stole the 2020 election.
Most of us, whatever our politics, have universal goals, mostly concerning peace and prosperity, and only differ on the paths we ought to take to get there.
I'm not even sure that the braying reactionaries who package and sell this stuff to you really believe it, though they sure believe in the paychecks, and they believe it will get your attention. They believe it will draw your ears and your eyes and perhaps your votes, and they care very little that what they're saying is tearing our society apart.
If there are nihilists in American politics, it's them.
The only thing we have to do to improve things is to stop listening. Stop tuning in. And stop imputing to anyone who disagrees with you the worst possible motivations.
Rob Port is a columnist, news reporter and podcast host for Forum News Service. Reach him at email@example.com.